It must be one of the best known encounters between a man and God in the Old Testament. And, it must be one of the most inspirational. God appears to the newly crowned king, Solomon, in a dream and says, “Ask what I shall give you.” Talk about a blank check! Talk about the classic, “If you had one wish what would it be?” And Solomon, the son of David, the king of Israel, asks for “an understanding mind” to govern God’s people. In sincere humility, knowing that he is insufficient to govern God’s great people, when told by God he can have anything he wants, Solomon asks for discernment that he might be a faithful leader and judge over Israel. (1Kings 3:3-9).
Bam! That’s the type of leader you like to see. Rather than seeking anything for himself, he wants what will benefit his people the most. It’s not about him, but about faithfully discharging the duty God has called him to. And not only does it ring right with us, but it also pleased the LORD (3:10). And so God gives Solomon what he asks for . . . and gives him what he didn’t ask for.
. . . behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. (1Kings 3:12-13 ESV)
Yup . . . pretty cool. Pretty inspirational. But here’s what hit me this morning . . . the foreboding context in which this divine transaction took place.
Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaohs daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the LORD and the wall around Jerusalem.
(1Kings 3:1 ESV)
As I read this I could almost hear the ominous tolling of a bell. Wife number one. One down, nine-hundred-ninety-nine to go. The first of many foreign wives which God had warned the people of Israel not to marry “for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. And if one might turn away a man’s heart, then one-thousand was going to do a job on this son of David. And Solomon “clung to these in love . . . And his wives turned away his heart.” (1Kings 11:1-3).
So the chapter starts with exposing Solomon’s Achilles heel. And yet, having seen this act of disobedience in the heir to the throne, . . . despite the perfect foreknowledge of knowing that this would be far from an isolated incident, . . . fully aware that Pharaoh’s daughter would be the first of many, many who would successfully mess with the king’s spiritual GPS, God still asks, “What shall I give you?” God still is pleased when Solomon asks for wisdom. And God still grants him not only wisdom but a royal experience which will be second to none in all of history. Can anyone say, “Grace?”
If it had been performance based, God might have held off asking the question? Maybe waiting to see if this Pharaoh’s daughter thing was a “momentary slip” before showering him with wisdom, riches, and honor. If it had been on the basis of works . . .
But it wasn’t. In God’s sovereign determination, in order to fulfill God’s sovereign purpose, according to God’s steadfast love, and by God’s super-abounding grace, He bestows upon a king that which he did not merit. Sounds kind of familiar . . .
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
(Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV)
God loved Solomon . . . and showered him with wisdom, despite his choice of wife. And then He gave more him than he asked for, or deserved, and bestowed on him riches.
And God loved us . . . and gave us life, despite our dead works. And, more than just redeeming us, He lavishes on us “the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
By grace, giving us more than we could ask . . . and more than we deserve.
How great is our God? Pretty!
To Him be the glory . . .