If you could ask God for anything, what would that be?
We may sometimes fantasize about that question, but for Solomon it was reality. When he became king after the death of David, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon could have requested anything. He could have asked for material riches, power, victory over his enemies, or whatever he liked. But Solomon asked for discernment: “Give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). Scripture says “it was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing” (1 Kings 3:10).
Moreover, the Lord told Solomon,
Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been none like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days. (1 Kings 3:11-14)
Notice that God commended Solomon because his request was completely unselfish: “because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself.” Selfishness is incompatible with true discernment. People who desire to be discerning must be willing to step outside themselves.
Modern evangelicalism, enamored with psychology and self-esteem, has produced a generation of believers so self-absorbed that they cannot be discerning. People aren’t even interested in discernment. Their spiritual focus is on self and getting their own “felt needs” met.
Solomon did not do that. Although he had an opportunity to ask for long life, personal prosperity, health and wealth, he bypassed all of that and asked for discernment instead. Therefore God also gave him riches, honor, and long life for as long as he walked in the ways of the Lord.
In the same way, James 1:5 promises us—as New Testament believers—that God is still eager to provide us with the discernment we so desperately need: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). We can ask Him for discernment, and He will gladly supply it.
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