Give your servant a discerning heart
to govern your people
and to distinguish between right and wrong,
for who is able to govern this great people of yours?.
— 1 Kings 3:9
Who is able to govern? This was Solomon’s question as he spoke to God in prayer. By the world’s estimation Solomon would become a huge success, bringing Israel up from being a tiny nation to a player on the world stage. But there on the threshold of his reign, he stopped and considered the magnitude of the task before him. Who in the world is fit for a job as big and important as this one? Surely not me, he must have thought.
And so, of all the gifts he could have asked God to give him, he asks for wisdom. Now, I know some people tell us we should pray for finances and prosperity for ourselves and others, but when we see what happens in the life of Solomon and his kingdom, I’m not sure that’s the best we can do. The time of Solomon reign was a renaissance — he lacked no material thing. His court was the richest, most impressive and highly cultured that Israel would see in its history. But it all grew from the seed of that one simple, heartfelt prayer.
What do you ask for when you pray? Good health and a good life? But what does that mean to you? How do we live a good life?
Scripture is full of helpful hints and suggestions about what the good life is and is not. Despite Solomon’s wisdom and early commitment to serving his people, somewhere along the way he began to lose sight of what it was all for. He became cynical and sad as he found that even his great power couldn’t solve all the world’s problems. He begins to see that even with the many material comforts he enjoyed, no matter how much he’d try to eat, drink and be merry, life seemed meaningless, like “chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:17, etc.).
So we know we need more than wisdom, success, comforts, food and drink and endless fun. These things are hollow and dull without real, honest-to-goodness human relationships — without love.
God knows we need relationships. In fact we were made that way on purpose. But why would God make us so dependant on each other? Why is it we get lonely and crave companionship? Why do we need other people to help us see and really understand the best and the worst that is in us?
Maybe because God craves companionship too. He wants to have a relationship with you, and with every person in the whole wide world. He loved you from the beginning of creation up to today and will go on loving you till the end of time. Through his Son Jesus, He poured out his heart and soul, and his very life at the cross. He longs for you to open your heart, confess your sins and receive forgiveness. He is waiting for your worship, honor and love. He is anxious, waiting like a bride at the altar for you to totally accept and embrace him in your life.
God longs for us to show our love for him, not just in prayer, worship and giving, but most powerfully in loving those He loves — the people of this world, our friends in Christ and those who’ve yet to find him. One young man came to Jesus (Luke 18:18), wondering what more he could do to honor God in his life. He was hoping to hear that he was already doing all that was humanly possible, since he was obeying the commandments and being as good as he knew how. Jesus told him he had one more thing to do — “Give all you have to the poor, then come follow me.”
When Solomon prayed for wisdom alone, he set everything else he could have asked for aside for the chance to become a good and godly ruler. When the disciples left their fishing boats behind on the Sea of Galilee, they put their livelihood aside so that they could know and follow Jesus. God longs to be your God, the God you would choose as he has chosen you. We have a relationship with God when we allow him to be our GOD — in other words, to set all else to the side and be willing to let go of it, even as Abraham was willing to let go of his only beloved son, Isaac (Genesis 22) and make God number one.
This election year, we are all asking, “Who is able to govern?” As we keep all of our elected leaders and candidates in prayer, let’s hope they’re asking that too!