Connections 08.15.2021: Pursuing Wisdom

1 Kings 3:3-14

In today’s passage, we have an earnest king. Solomon loves God and is trying hard to live like he should, “walking in the statues of his father David” (v. 3). And he’s doing a pretty good job of it—“only,” as the biblical writer notes, “he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places.” It’s like Solomon is trying to cover all his bases. He wants to stay in God’s good graces but also appease any other gods who may affect his reign.

His desires aren’t unusual for people of faith. In fact, he’s following in the footsteps of his father David in this as well. King David “walked before [God] in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart” (v. 6), but he also committed adultery, had a man murdered, and struggled mightily to be faithful to the Lord God.

In this world, it’s not easy to follow God with so many competing loyalties and distractions. It has never been easy. This is why God is so pleased with Solomon’s prayer. Despite the other claims to the king’s devotion, the tempting material possessions afforded to one in his position, and his longing to fit in as leader of the nation, Solomon comes humbly before God, as “a little child” (v. 7). He confesses his inadequacy and asks God for “an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil” (v. 9). He knows he’s a work in progress, and he realizes that only God can help him get better.

God rewards Solomon for this prayer, giving him not only wisdom but also riches, honor, and a long life (vv. 13-14). The transaction doesn’t always (or even often) work that way. Many times we pray to God in humility, asking for the right things, and God gives us exactly what we need…though not the other things we would like to have. The point here is not a “prosperity gospel” in which God rewards us with material blessings when we pray in humility. The point is that God rewards the humble pursuit of wisdom by giving us what we truly need: the wisdom to walk through life in faith, hope, and love, no matter what we own or how well we are known.

Discussion

• Why is Solomon still known as a wise and godly king in spite of his faults?
• What are some areas where you struggle to be faithful to God?
• Have you ever prayed for wisdom? Did God give it to you? What happened?
• Why do you think the biblical writer noted that God gave Solomon wisdom and also so many earthly goods, like material possessions, fame, and long life?
• When we don’t get the things we want in this world, how can we still pursue wisdom and strive to follow God faithfully?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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