By Nathan Washburn
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Greenbrier
Focal Passage: I Kings 3:3-14; 4:29-34
We are terrible at seeking two things at once. In fact, we cannot seek two things at once. Only one thing can actually occupy the primary place of prominence in our lives. We will use our energy, time, and resources to seek something or someone first, and anything that pulls us toward something or someone else will take us away from that first priority.
When we read the account of Solomon ascending to the throne of Israel, we see a man who had tremendous opportunity. It seemed that he’d been appointed for greatness by the Lord and primed for success as a leader by his father, King David. One night in a dream, the Lord appeared to Solomon and asked him what one thing he would like for Him to give him (I Kings 3:5). And Solomon chose wisely.
He recounted the Lord’s faithfulness to him already. Solomon didn’t answer hastily, which shows that he already had traces of wisdom. Instead, he went back over in his mind what had already taken place up to that point. He recounted the faithfulness of his own father (v. 6). He reflected on how the Lord had preserved him with His steadfast love (3:6). He thought about how he himself was now the king (v. 7). All this undoubtedly humbled Solomon with profound gratitude.
He asked for wisdom because he knew his limitations. Although it’s not ever mentioned how old Solomon was when he became king, more than likely he was a grown man (albeit a young man). And yet, when he answers the Lord, he refers to himself as a “little child” who does not know “how to go out or come in” (v. 7). Solomon knew that as far as experience, he didn’t have much, and as far as leadership ability, he needed all the help he could get. So he asked for wisdom. He needed it, and he knew it.
He asked for wisdom because he knew his responsibility. Solomon grew up in the home of the king. He knew what it meant to lead the kingdom and have the responsibility of the well-being of the people on his shoulders (v. 8). He also knew the people belonged to the Lord, so he sought to steward them well (vv. 8-9). So he made his plea, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people” (v. 9). The Lord was well-pleased by this request, and so He gave it. But not only did it please the Lord to give Solomon wisdom, it also pleased Him to give him both riches and honor (v. 13), things he had not asked for or sought first.
It is wise to seek the kingdom first. When we turn to the New Testament, we see that we too are to seek a kingdom first. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Just a few verses earlier, Jesus said that we absolutely cannot serve two masters at the same time (Matthew 6:24). We will either be really good at seeking after “all these things,” or we will be really good at seeking after His kingdom. If we seek things, we’ll never get the kingdom, and we’ll lose the things too. If we seek the kingdom, we get the kingdom, and all the other things are added in as well. This is the wisdom we need — to seek Christ’s kingdom and righteousness as our top priority.