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Author:Rev. Jack Moesker
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Congregation:Canadian Reformed Church at Owen Sound
 Owen Sound, Ontario
Title:Solomon's request of the Lord at Gibeon
Text:1 Kings 3:9 (View)

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 145:1,3

Psalm 145:5

Psalm 72:1,2,4

Hymn 79:1,3,5

Hymn 46:1-4

Read: 1 Kings 3

Text: 1 Kings 3:9

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jack Moesker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ;

In 1 Kings 1 we’re told how Solomon ended up becoming anointed king of Israel. In chapter 3 Solomon is shown making a political move to establish himself as king by making a treaty with the Egyptian Pharaoh and sealing that treaty marrying Pharaoh’s daughter. That was a normal thing for kings to do in those days, but as we know now, it made trouble for his reign later on. However, at the time Solomon made that treaty and married the Egyptian princess, his determination was still to love the Lord and walk in the ways of his father David.

And that’s what brings him to Gibeon. David had brought the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem. But the tabernacle and the great altar of burnt offering remained at Gibeon. And Solomon showed his love for the Lord and his desire to serve the Lord in his kingship by offering a thousand burnt offerings on that altar there. Those whole burnt offerings were expression of Solomon’s determination to give himself wholly to the Lord in his kingship.

All that sacrificing of burnt offerings wasn’t done in a day, so Solomon slept there at Gibeon. And then the Lord God appeared to him in a dream at night. He was pleased with Solomon’s determination to serve Him. And so He said to Solomon (vs.5), Ask what I shall give you!  Wonderful that the Lord wants to hear what Solomon wishes most! And those words of the Lord God remind us of the words of God’s Son Jesus Christ, don’t they? Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you. Jesus Christ’s one great sacrifice has opened God’s heart to His people so that He wants hear our requests and give us what we need to serve Him.

Lets listen to what Solomon asked of the Lord there at Gibeon. I preach to you the Word of God in our text in 1 Kings 3:9 with this theme: Solomon’s request at Gibeon.

1. How he asks.

2. What he asks for.

3. What he received.


1. How Solomon asks.

Solomon asked, Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people…. That request, congregation, shows a number of things. In the first place, notice that Solomon asks God to help him with his task as king, his work. His responsibility as king was to govern and judge the people. Formulating good laws, making sure that those laws were upheld, and acting as a kind of supreme court in the land. In other words, handling lawsuits and counter-suits and ensuring that criminals were punished and making sure that those who were robbed got their possessions back again. And Solomon asks, prays, at God help him do a good job with all that. Help him with his daily work to serve God and the people uprightly.

That tells us something, congregation. It teaches us first of all to pray for our tasks too, our daily work in God’s kingdom and in His church. Do you pray for God’s help to fulfill your responsibilities every day? You know, it can have serious consequences if you make wrong decisions in your daily tasks. Think of Solomon. If he made wrong decisions, the people would suffer as a result of that. If he judged wrongly in his court, that would mean that innocent people would end up condemned and people would lose respect for the laws in Israel. Now, we don’t have the task to reign over a nation like Solomon, but we do all have responsibilities. If you’re a truck driver or simply driving a car to go shopping, and you make a wrong judgement in traffic - that can have serious consequences. Or if you work in construction and you misjudge the placement of a beam and it falls. Or if you make a mistake with machinery on the farm. One mistake can have serious consequences for your or someone else’s well-being. Good to ask the Lord God to help you fulfill your responsibilities every day again! That's the first thing that comes out of our text.

The second thing to note is that Solomon doesn’t overestimate himself. He asks God in humility. He asks for the Lord God’s help right at the beginning of his responsibilities as king of Israel. He says at the end of our text, For who is able to govern this your great people?  He accepts that he can’t do his task of governing the people of God properly without the Lord God’s help. Oh, he could have reacted so differently to being anointed king of Israel. He was just over 20 years of age. That highest position as king over those people could have gone to his head right away. He could have figured he didn’t need any help, that he could tackle everything on his own, that he would do things his way and everybody had better listen to him. That can happen when someone is given greater responsibilities, can’t it? You just get a higher position at your work and you walk around as if you’re going to show everybody now how this job is supposed to be done. Or you’re new parents and you’re sure you’re at least going to be better parents than your own parents. You just get your driver’s license and you drive 130 kilometers an hour and figure you can handle it, you’ll never cause an accident. But Solomon prays to God for wisdom right at the beginning of his kingship. And that in itself already shows us that he was humble, that he didn't overestimate his own wisdom.  It teaches us to think, Don’t overestimate yourself! Don’t be blind to your dependence on God who has everything in His hands. Be humbly dependent on the Lord God!

It could also be the other way around, namely, that you feel inadequate. Like when you got that big promotion, or when you became parent for the first time, you didn't feel up to the task. Maybe you thought, something like Solomon, Will I be able to handle this? But things went OK and over time you just assumed that you had it all in hand. You lost your dependence on the Lord. And then you prayed less or maybe not at all. You leave home for work and get behind the steering wheel of your car. And you come home again after work and step in the door. And you just presume that it’ll all go fine at work and on the road. You have then lost your dependence on God. You pray less and less about those things until you maybe just forget to ask God for wisdom and protection altogether.

But Solomon’s request shows us that we need humbly look to God for that protection and guidance every day again. Sometimes the Lord reminds us of our dependence on Him and our need to look to Him when something goes wrong at work or on the road. And you think, This could have gone terribly wrong. And then you realize again how dependent you are on the Lord God. And you pray again. But do you still feel that dependence a week later, or a month later, or a year later? And do you still humbly ask Him to watch over you and help you in your responsibilities?

The third thing that comes to the fore in thinking about how Solomon asks the Lord God for wisdom to govern His people is that he actually doesn’t actually ask for something for himself, but for something that would be of benefit for God’s Kingdom. He could have asked for wealth and celebrity and long life. But no, he asked for an understanding mind because that would benefit God’s people and Kingdom. And see, that’s asking the Lord God in faith. That's fruit of faith in and love for the Lord God and His Kingdom and church – that you pray for things with which you can serve God’s kingdom and be of help to the citizens of that kingdom. And that you pray for and look for training and later for work with which you can help others and serve God’s kingdom. And that you ask that you can do that to the best of your ability at your present place of employment. Lord, help me to be a testimony to you and your grace at my school or college. Help me to see where I can help others and promote your Kingdom at my work. Help me to not be a stumbling block to my children but to be a good parent and to show your love and care to them so they have everything they need to love and serve you too. Help me to be of service to your Kingdom today.

It’s so important to keep asking that from the Lord God. Much later on Solomon apparently took it all for granted and his heart wasn’t in that kingdom service anymore. His greatness probably went to his head and he didn't keep praying for wisdom. We need to humbly keep asking for those things from the Lord God, congregation. For at the end of our lives the thing God will ask us is not whether we achieved this success in business or that success in academics or whether we can look back on our lives in self-satisfaction.  No, He’ll ask, What did you do for my kingdom? What did you do for even the least of these my brothers?  If you’ve only worked for yourself and demanded things for yourself, but basically done nothing for God’s Kingdom and church, then He’ll say to you, Sorry, I don’t know you. And then you’ll end up outside His eternal Kingdom, in everlasting darkness. However, there’s still time to change, to repent. And there’s only one who can help you if you go to Him with empty hands – Jesus Christ the Saviour. Lord Jesus, renew me after your image.

We come to the second part of the sermon:

2. What Solomon asked for.

Back to Solomon’s request: Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil. Discernment between good and evil. Solomon certainly needed that in order to govern and judge Israel. Discernment means insight. Sight and insight are two different things. You can see things as they are. But insight is to be able to perceive what’s really behind what's going on. Like when someone comes to you and asks if he can use your drill or so. That's seeing. But having insight, discernment, is thinking things through. You had other experiences with that person in which he didn’t return things of yours unless you demanded them back. And your insight leads you to suspect that person’s motives. You need to be careful or you’ll lose your drill. Seeing and insight are different.

Well, Solomon asks for insight into things, for perception to understand what’s really going on, so he can see through things, see the motives behind them, so he can discern good and evil. Note those words. He doesn’t ask that he may discern between what’s profitable and non-profitable or between sophisticated and not sophisticated or so. No, discernment to know good and evil. Good, meaning according to God’s will and good for spiritual life and bringing blessing. And evil meaning against God’s will and not good for spiritual life and not resulting in blessing. Solomon prays that he may discern the difference between those two, understand what’s good in that way and what’s evil.

Discernment like that is so important, also for us in our life and tasks today! Something might look nice – nice house, two incomes to pay the mortgage, work day and night to get ahead. You see that nice house and that money rolling in. But insight is: what will that mean for the upbringing of our children? It may look good if your child has his or her own laptop and  phone and so on. So many fancy things available to be connected in this digital age!  So many doors open up for them then. But insight is: is it really a blessing for their minds? It can look wonderful to have a good-looking girlfriend or boyfriend. But insight is: what’s his or her character like, does he or she have a living relationship with the Lord?

Seeing and insight. That's where things went wrong in Paradise already. Eve saw the serpent and heard his friendly words. She saw the fruit on the tree, that it was tasty and desirable. That's what she saw. But she didn’t have insight into what the consequences of taking that fruit would be, the Satanic motives behind the serpent’s words. And so she took and ate and gave to Adam and it was evil. It brought a curse on the world and the whole of mankind. That's how we are by nature now too. Our inclination is only to see, but not to discern.

Solomon asked the Lord God for discernment, for an understanding mind. Literally it says in the Hebrew, “a listening heart.” A heart that really listens to people. What are they saying? What do they really mean? But especially then also a heart that listens to God, that especially listens to what God says in His Word. His good ordinances. But also a heart that listens to what God says in your circumstances. God also speaks in situations which we run into. That's hard to explain. You can’t just say when things are going well that God approves or when things aren’t going well that God disapproves. Still, you can hear God in things that take place. Sometimes when things don’t go well, we may perceive that God is calling us to change, to repent. On the other hand, when things aren’t going well, God could also be teaching us patience and perseverance.

The thing is, congregation, Solomon’s request shows us that we should also pray to God continually for a listening ear so that we not only hear what others are saying, but also what God says in His Word and so that we perceive what He’s telling us in our circumstances. We need to continually pray for that kind of understanding. In 2 Chronicles 33:10 it says about King Manasseh and the people in his time, The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. They heard, but didn’t listen. Their hearts didn’t want to listen. See, you can have read the Bible a thousand times and heard a thousand sermons and still not listen, still not realize that the Lord God is addressing you, warning you about that sin in your life.  And it can be that you have experienced so much in your life and still haven’t noticed that the Lord through those things is calling you to change your attitude. And congregation, if that continues, you drift farther and farther away from the God who has given you such great and eternal promises. Solomon himself eventually didn’t listen and discern anymore either. And then he took hundreds of wives and worshiped in the temples of idols. If we don’t keep asking God for a discerning heart that listens to Him, we’ll drift away too, so that we don’t see and hear anymore. We need to pray continually that God will give us hearts that truly see and hear!

We’ve see then how Solomon asked and what he asked for. We now come to the last part of the sermon:

3.  What Solomon received.  

Solomon, congregation, prefigured Jesus Christ who is much greater than Solomon. But Solomon prefigured Jesus Christ in a different way than his father David did. David prefigured the Lord Jesus in His humility and rejection. In David’s life we see that exaltation comes by way of struggle and suffering. Solomon though, foreshadows Christ in His exaltation after His victorious resurrection. Solomon prefigured how the exalted King Jesus Christ judges and reigns. His government is much more glorious than Solomon’s. In at least three areas.

In the first place, Solomon became wise and also wealthy. God gave Him not only wisdom and insight, but also riches and long life. But Jesus Christ is much, much greater than Solomon in wisdom and riches and length of life. He is wisdom from God. And He makes wise to salvation. He is rich - rich in grace and forgiveness and in the Holy Spirit and in heavenly blessings. And He lets His people share all His benefits and riches. He has obtained eternal life for His own and He lives to intercede for us always. And He gives life to His own, and gives it abundantly. He shares His wisdom, His gifts and His life with His church. How good it is to have Jesus Christ who is greater than Solomon as our King! He gives us blessing upon blessing. King Solomon had much and could do much for his people. But Christ the King has obtained eternal redemption for His people and eternal life and blessings.

In the second place, Solomon was given wisdom to govern God’s people with understanding. However, many still didn’t serve the Lord God uprightly. By God’s grace king Solomon was able for a time to give good example and give good government. He built the temple and organized the temple worship. But he wasn’t able to get all the people to worship God with their whole hearts. However, the one who is far greater than Solomon, Jesus Christ, not only gives wise government and good example. He as it were destroyed the temple and built it up again in three days through His death and resurrection. And by that He obtained the life-giving Spirit and through His Spirit He works in hearts of people - something Solomon could never do. And He blesses and renews us from within so that we live and work for His Kingdom.   

And in the third place, yes, Solomon gave good judgment. In the last part of 1 Kings 3 we’re told how those two prostitutes came to Solomon with a dead child and a living one. And you know how he came to wise and correct judgment, how he ordered that the living child be cut in two and each woman receive half. What a terrible but wonderfully wise way to find out who the real mother was! She was of course the one who wanted the child to live. But Jesus, the greater than Solomon, has come! And our Lord Jesus Christ judges rightly because He can look right into the hearts. He called the Pharisees and teachers of the law hypocrites. He knew what was in their hearts. And He still judges rightly today. He discerns who is upright and loves Him. And He sees who is hypocritical and only serves Him outwardly, out of custom or superstition. He knows those who are truly in need and fills them with good things and sends those who have abundance away empty. And congregation, on the last day He will judge everyone perfectly justly. He won’t make a single mistake! Then two people will say to Him, I prophesied in your Name and I ate and drank with you. But He will take the one and leave the other. Jesus Christ will be able to judge whether what we did here was real or if it was only outward form. He will bring into the light what was done in darkness here. He will unmask every hypocrite. But He knows those who truly love Him, those who though sinners also, sought His grace from the heart. He will welcome them into His eternal Kingdom with open arms, even if they were despised by others. He will say, Come, you blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jack Moesker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2010, Rev. Jack Moesker

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