The LORD Jesus Christ made Solomon king over His people. When He did, He offered to give him whatever he asked. He said, “Ask what I shall give thee” (1 Kings 3:5). God can give anything. Knowing this, Solomon did a very wise thing. He asked for what he needed most, that he might do what the LORD had called him to do. He could have asked for riches. He could have asked for a long life. He could have asked the LORD to kill his enemies. He could have asked for many things. But he did not ask for himself.
Solomon humbled himself before God. He said (paraphrase), “It is because of your great mercy and kindness to David that you have given him a son to sit on his throne.” God made Solomon king. Solomon needed great grace to fulfill his calling. He knew that there was nothing about his father David or himself that moved the LORD to make him king. It was God’s mercy and kindness and faithfulness to David. It was God’s throne. God appointed whom He would to sit on it. It was called the throne of his father David. Solomon was humble and wise to recognize these things.
Solomon also knew that God made him king over His own people. Israel was God’s chosen people. They were His blessed people. He made them a great multitude. They would inherit Canaan, according to the promise God made to Abraham. Through them, as concerning the flesh, Christ would come. The LORD had made Solomon king over “the apple of His eye.” What a calling! What a stewardship! There is none higher!
Solomon was not puffed up in pride because the LORD made Him king. He knew that he was nothing. He understood what only the grace of God can teach us: that he did not have what he needed to do what God had called him to do. He said, “I am but a little child.” Not just a child, but a little child. He knew that in himself he had no more understanding to rule God’s people than a little child. Solomon also said this: “Thy servant is in the midst of thy people.” In other words, “I am one of them, their brethren, no more than any one of them.” He saw that he was no greater, no wiser, no more worthy. As Peter, “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:11). Paul knew this about himself: “By the grace of God I am what I am...” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Like Peter and Paul and all of God’s people, Solomon knew that he was only a sinner, saved by grace (1 Tim. 1:15; Romans 4:5; 5:6-10).
Not only did Solomon understand that it was God’s will and mercy to David that he was made king; not only did he understand that God put him over His own chosen, beloved, promised, blessed people; not only did he know that he was a sinner like all men and like those God called Him to rule (1 Kings 8:38,46; Ecclesiastes 7:20); and not only did he know himself to be nothing and in need of everything; but Solomon also knew that the people themselves had great need. He asked what he asked for them, for their sakes. Moreover, Solomon considered it his highest privilege to serve the LORD. He referred to himself as “Thy servant…” (vv7-9). He wanted to serve the LORD by serving His people to meet their needs.
Therefore, Solomon did not ask for himself. But he asked for the LORD’s sake, and for the people’s sake. He wanted wisdom to discern and judge the people for the LORD’s sake and for their blessing. That is what faithful servants of Christ do. They seek to rightly divide the scriptures to the glory of God and for the sake of God’s elect people.
Solomon surely knew his father’s heart. At the end of his life, David said, “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Sam. 23:3). The people needed a just ruler. Solomon was now king by God’s appointment. Having only the understanding of a little child, wanting to glorify God, wanting to discern with God’s wisdom for the sake of God’s people, Solomon asked God for what only God can give, and what he now needed. He said, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (1 Kings 3:9).
In humbling himself, in seeking the glory of God, in seeking the good of the people, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, did the wisest thing that he ever did. And the thing that Solomon asked pleased the LORD. It was the work of God’s grace (1 Kings 3:10). God is pleased with His own work.
1 Kings 3:11-13 “And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; v12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. v13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.”
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
Solomon is a great picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is God. Yet He humbled Himself. In His death, Christ was made the wisdom of God to His people. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God“ (1 Corinthians 1:17-18).
It is the wisdom of God that teaches us to seek God’s glory and the salvation of His beloved, chosen, promised, blessed people, by preaching only Christ and Him crucified. Is Christ the wisdom of God? Did Solomon ask for wisdom to the glory of God and for the people’s sake? If we seek this grace from our Lord Jesus, to His glory and for His people to be brought to Him alone in faith and love and worship; if we ask for what we don’t have, to do what our Lord has called us to do and what His people most sorely need, then we too will be wise as Solomon. It is grace that teaches us to ask what pleases God. And since it is the LORD’s grace, the LORD will be pleased with His own work. He will grant our request. His name will be honored. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). May it please the LORD to do so now, in this our day, for the glory of His great name. “Lord, take glory to yourself. Give us to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our wisdom before God, and in so knowing, possess the wisdom of God in our hearts (Colossians 2:3)”.
“In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength and my refuge is in God” (Psalm 62:7).
As the LORD was pleased to give Solomon what he asked, because Solomon did not ask for himself, even so, if we seek grace to do the LORD’s will for His people, He will surely give us all things that we need according to His mercy and kindness and faithfulness. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
"What unbelievers spend their lives seeking from the world, believers find in Christ alone" (Todd Nibert). “Christ is all.” “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him” (Col. 3:11; 2:3; 2:9-10).