Give me an understanding mind
so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.
For who by himself is able to govern this great nation of yours?
1 Kings 3:9 nlt
I remember when I first started becoming more aware of recognizing landmarks when my family and I drove places. I remember it being almost like a magic trick; one minute I wouldn’t recognize a single thing around me, and moments later I would see a familiar restaurant or building and realize I knew where we were after all! Eventually, I was able to create certain “maps” in my head that got me all the way from “A” to “B” and back again. It wasn’t too long before I remember thinking I had become a master navigator.
Then I learned to drive. It was at that point that I realized everything I thought I had mastered was merely theoretical knowledge. Once I was the one behind the wheel, navigation wasn’t such a simple thing anymore. There was a night I got lost going to my brother’s house, where I had been MANY times, because I missed one turn. I remember thinking that the “magic trick” of my childhood would happen again – that all of a sudden something familiar would appear around the next bend. Unfortunately that night each bend revealed nothing and I ended up parked at a dark, dingy pub humiliated and asking the bartender if I could use their phone because I was lost.
That whole “Failed Master Navigator” scenario has continued to replay itself in my life so many times and in so many ways over the years. It’s not just a “kid thing” to have awesome ideas and hundreds of answers. It’s also not any less humbling when I find out – as an adult – that I don’t actually know as much as I thought I did.
Within the first 3 chapters of the book of 1 Kings, 3 big things happen: 1) yet ANOTHER one of David’s sons tries to steal the kingdom from him, 2) David elects his son, Solomon, to take the throne instead, and 3) David dies, which leaves Solomon alone at the wheel. Solomon takes charge with an immense amount of conviction and confidence. Case in point, the last verse of chapter two states “So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip.” He isn’t bull-headed or arrogant, however. Take a look at how Solomon interacts with God:
That night, the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
Solomon replied, “You were wonderfully kind to my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued this great kindness to him today by giving him a son to succeed him. O LORD my God, now you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am among your own chosen people, a nation so great they are too numerous to count! Give me an understanding mind so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great nation of yours?” (1 Kings 3:5-9 nlt)
Solomon admits humbly that he is like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. His earthly role model was now gone and he recognized that all he knew was not enough in the face of this great responsibility. He doesn’t get frustrated, complain, or forge ahead in his OWN strength. He asks God for the gift of understanding.
So many times I waste my moments wishing for a “magic trick” or worrying or getting frustrated with my shortcomings. WHY?! God is near – he welcomes me to come to him at any moment, unashamed, and ask for his wisdom. And he promises he will give it. I have access to a wisdom that transcends all human understanding. What am I waiting for?!
Dear Lord, I want to come to you as Solomon did. I am a child in this world. I don’t know my way around and you have blessed me with responsibilities over your own creations. Give me an understanding mind so that I can govern well and know the difference between right and wrong. I praise you for your unending love and amazing grace and perfect example. Amen