Missiology Through Scripture – 1 Kings 3:8-9

“And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. 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?” – 1 Kings 3:8-9

Solomon is known for his wisdom. His great understanding transcends history and culture. The great 18th Century composer Handel wrote an oratorio to Solomon. Even famed author Mark Twain had his title character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn debate the wisdom of Solomon with Jim. But, truly, how intelligent was king Solomon and why did he possess such renowned wisdom?

In verse seven Solomon himself makes the reader aware of the natural state of his knowledge. Solomon stated he was, “but a little child.” And, he did not know, “how to go out or come in.” Solomon, on his own, was ignorant and insufficient of that which he needed to govern God’s elect. It is only later (v. 12) it becomes clear it was God who gave Solomon wisdom and discernment. Karl Barth stated, “The wisdom of Solomon is not, then, a private wisdom, but a public, official wisdom of kingship and government.”[1] All which is good in us is given to us by God. Anything profitable is bestowed to us, not to benefit ourselves, but to advance God and his perfect will.

Like Solomon, our blessings of health, wealth, and comfort are provided for us to advance God’s glory. Our modern Western church, and its congregants have not been bestowed with historically unmatchable wealth and resources, so we can lavish ourselves with ease and excess. God has gifted us with the resources we need so, like Solomon, we can serve God and his elect. If we are personally enjoying God’s provision while there are still countless of cultures who do not know the grace and mercy of God, we are not using God’s resources as God intended.

As Solomon did, we also misuse God’s resources for our own benefit. Prayerfully, like Solomon, we will return to the true purpose of our blessings.

[1] Karl Barth, Geoffrey William Bromiley, and Thomas F. Torrance, Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of God, Part 1, vol. 2 (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2004), 433.