Sermon by Teresa Coulthard for Parkview United Church, Aug. 16, 2015. Sermon Topic: Just Ask (Solomon Asks for Wisdom)


Sermon by Teresa Coulthard, Aug. 16, 2015.   Sermon Topic:  Just Ask (Solomon Asks for Wisdom)


1 Kings 2:10-12 and 1 Kings 3:3-15 Teresa Coulthard


Do you ever think back to your teenage years? When you were a teen, did you ever have the feeling that you “knew it all”? The author Mark Twain, known for being blunt, once said, ““When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have my old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much my old man had learned in seven years.”


Well, when I think back to my teenage years, I’m pretty sure I was like Mark Twain and that I thought I did indeed “know it all” (just ask my poor teachers at high school or my parents – sorry Mom & Dad) so I would never have been someone to ask anyone else for wisdom or guidance, let alone ask God for wisdom or guidance. Yes, looking back, I think I was more like Mark Twain than I care to admit.


But that was not the case for the newly crowned, young King Solomon, not at all. Solomon’s father, the powerful King David, had been a man devoted to God, and Solomon was just like his father. To show his devotion, one day Solomon went to an important place of worship and presented 1000 offerings to God, and that very night, God appeared to Solomon in a dream…


God said to Solomon, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you.” Wow. Can you imagine being asked that by God? To have God say to you, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you.” What would you ask for? How would you answer that?


Well, Solomon answered by being thankful for God’s great and faithful love. Then Solomon lets us know how he feels about the task he faces of succeeding his father and becoming the next king in a well-established kingdom – He says, “I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your chosen people, a nation so great and so numerous they cannot be counted!”


It sounds to me like Solomon understands the enormity of the responsibility he is facing. He was raised as a prince in King David’s large royal family, and he had many ambitious older brothers. But Solomon was chosen by God to be the next king. Solomon likely would have watched his father lead the people of Israel all of his life – but he was still young and inexperienced at leading a nation by himself. I get the impression that Solomon feels a bit unprepared and maybe a bit inadequate for the job.


Solomon continues on to answer God’s question by saying, “Give me an understanding heart 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 people of yours?”


An understanding heart … a knowledge of the difference between right and wrong… the ability to rule with justice – wouldn’t it be great if all leaders had these qualities … or even if all people had these qualities? Solomon wanted more than just knowledge in his head, he wanted understanding, and he wanted the understanding to be in his heart… he wanted to have a heart that would listen to God.


Solomon, a strong and proud man, a man raised to be a strong leader, knows that he is going to need God’s help to govern… and he does not hesitate to admit this and humbly ask God for it.


God was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom, and God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or death of your enemies – I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or will ever have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for – riches and fame! … And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you long life.”


Then Solomon woke up and realized it had been a dream.


Dreams are very interesting… in ancient times people believed that dreams were divinely inspired. Some people feel that dreams reveal what is really going on inside a person – in their subconscious. In Solomon’s case, his dream indicates that the responsibilities of his new position as the King of Israel were weighing heavily on his mind.


I don’t know about you, but in some ways I can sort of relate to how Solomon was feeling. Sometimes, or maybe quite often, we may not feel ready for a challenging leadership position that comes our way, whether it is at work, at school, at church, or within our families. The church is a good example actually. Think of the things you have done, or are currently doing at church, that at one time you did not know how to do – whether it be coordinating coffee breaks or dinners in the kitchen, teaching Sunday School, organizing a fundraiser or leading a committee – to name just a few examples. When we are faced with a new leadership duty – whether we have volunteered for it or whether it has been thrust upon us – we may feel fear, self-doubt or a lack of confidence. We may feel a strong urge to just run away. It sounds like Solomon was feeling some of these things, as well.


But Solomon didn’t run away… instead, he humbly admitted his fears and weaknesses to God, and asked for guidance. Solomon knew that, as a king, he would have great power, and with great power comes great responsibility.


God was pleased by what Solomon had asked for – that Solomon knew he had a great need for wisdom, discernment and understanding. God was also pleased by what Solomon did not ask for – he did not ask for riches or power for himself. He did not ask for worldly goods or for revenge.


God not only answered Solomon’s prayer, but God answered it beyond all expectation – granting Solomon not only wisdom to govern with justice and a wise and understanding heart, but also riches, fame, peace and a long life.


God listens to and answers our prayers, too, although maybe not the way we want or the way we expect, or perhaps not as quickly as we’d like. Prayers are answered in God’s way and in God’s time, not ours.


Solomon knew God would be pleased with him if he gave it his best shot and he had faith that God would help, guide and support him. God is pleased with us if we try our best, too – and wants to share our feelings and fears with us and be part of our lives… God wants us to ask for help and guidance – not just during times of trial and upset, but in good times, as well. Anytime. All the time.


Wouldn’t it be nice to have God offer us the same promise that was offered to Solomon – “Ask and I will give it to you?” Well, God does, on numerous occasions throughout the Bible. The most familiar one to me is found in the book of Matthew (7:7-8). Maybe it will sound familiar to you, too – Jesus said:


Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Let us pray in silence for a moment for God’s guidance in our lives …