Early in his tenure as king, Solomon had a dream where God said to him, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” (1KGS 3:4) Solomon’s response is striking because it sounded as if he could have had anything in the world. He began by praising his father, David who had been a great ruler and the beloved servant of God. Then he talked about his own inexperience because he was young, and his lack of knowledge about how to act as king over such a vast populace. How amazing his wisdom at such an age! How astounding the sentence that followed. “Give your servant, therefore,” he said, “an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” In return for the selflessness of Solomon’s request God gave him not only what he asked for but also many things he did not seek: the riches and glory that might have been the request of a lesser man.
Solomon is a good example, not only for young people learning to navigate in the world, but for all of us who still wonder occasionally what it is God is calling us to do. I hope I am never too old or too “settled” to direct a plea to God for wisdom in great moments as well as in the everyday situations of life. An understanding heart is always at the top of my list of perfect gifts and I pray that it is as renewable as it is necessary.