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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, July 28, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  1 Kings 3:5–12   

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. (NRSV)

As with many (all?) of our biblical texts, much history and theological narrative rest behind this passage in 1 Kings. Generally the writers are trying to help us understand the shift from King David to King Solomon. But I am not interested in using the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation for this short devotional. Rather, let us simply look at the plain sense of the text today to see what we see. And what do I see? I see an emerging leader who recognizes the faithfulness of God to God’s people in the past and who realizes he will have to constantly try to center himself in the wisdom of God as he makes his way into the future. In this passage, Solomon primarily expresses his desire that he make decisions in line with God’s hope.

I am sure I am not the only one who can relate to this text today! Many of us are continually trying to discern between what is wise and what is foolish in the time of COVID-19. Many of us recognize there is so much that we do not know. Many of us are simply trying to remain as faithful as we can, trying to ground ourselves in prayer as we ask for God’s wisdom and hope to be revealed to us. And so I am grateful that God responds with a yes to Solomon’s request. God does indeed bestow upon him a “wise and discerning mind” that helps Solomon be who God needs him to be at that time and in that place. May it be so for all of us, as well.

God of wisdom and grace, I pray for this wise spirit to be born anew in me today. Give to me the clarity of your vision. Lift my eyes to see your horizon. And bestow on me the courage I need to step into it. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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