Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom

Read: 1 Kings 3:5-14

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people? (v. 9)

Early in his reign Solomon had a realistic self-image. Even though he was king of Israel, a son of the widely renowned King David, he was still just an ordinary mortal. He knew that ruling a nation was a daunting task. So when God appeared to him and invited him to ask anything he wished, Solomon had enough sense to think not of his personal desires but of his public responsibilities. He prayed for wisdom because of the needs of the community of people he was ruling.

God was pleased with Solomon’s prayer, pleased to see that Solomon’s main concern was not his own life or his own enrichment, but God’s own chosen people, the ones God loved. Our prayers are often focused on our own personal concerns. This is appropriate, for God cares for us personally and individually. But Solomon reminds us that our prayer horizon must extend to our community as well, to the community that we love and that God loves.

Jesus taught us that our neighbor is anyone who needs our attentive care. So in obedience to him, our prayers and service must extend beyond our immediate community to the entire world. —Leanne VanDyk

Prayer: God of all communities, we pray for all people that you have created. Help us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Amen.

About the Author

Leanne VanDyk

Leanne Van Dyk is a Reformed theologian and theological educator. She has focused much of her work on atonement theology and the development of theological education. She is the tenth president of Columbia Theological Seminary.