Equip Me to Carry Out my Duties
1 Kings 3:5-12
If you were given one wish, anything in the world your heart desires, what would you wish for?
Perhaps when we think of wishes we think of genies in bottles granting wishes to the lucky one who discovers the genie’s lamp. In the beloved story of Aladdin, the young homeless youth gets the offer of a lifetime—three wishes for anything his heart might desire. The only rules were you can’t wish for more wishes, and you can’t wish for someone to fall in love with you. So with his first wish Aladdin wishes to become prince Ali of Ababwa so he can marry his love Princess Jasmine. So what would you wish for?
Of course no one really gets to wish for anything they want. The Make-a-Wish Foundation tries, but only kids who are on death’s door really get to make these wishes. Oh, and King Solomon. He wasn’t on death’s door, but having just been newly crowned king of Israel, he doesn’t seem to fit the mold of someone who really needs a wish. What king does? All he has to do is issue a command and then someone will do it for him. You need some thing fresh to eat? No problem, your majesty it is on it’s way. You want some renovations on the palace? We’ll get an army of workers started tomorrow.
Nonetheless God comes to Solomon in a special dream to offer him an unique grace that he has not offered in quite the same way to anyone else who has ever lived:
5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
God came to Solomon in a dream: Ask me what you want me to give you. It’s an invitation better than getting a magic lamp with a blue genie, because if there is anyone with the power to grant wishes, it’s the God who has all power in heaven and on earth, who made all that exists. And God could grant any wish you could think of. You want all the riches in the world? Done. You want to live 1000 years? God could give it. You want to be the Prime Minister? Justin is out, you are in. You want to speak a dozen languages fluently? Oui, ja wohl. You want to be important? Here you go, you just invented the cure for cancer.
It was a dream, but a dream come true. Who hasn’t longed for some wish of our hearts to be fulfilled? Who hasn’t daydreamed about how our lives could be even a little better? Okay, maybe I wouldn’t wish to be the richest or most powerful. But couldn’t I wish for nice weather on my camping trip? Or for the death of all the world’s mosquitoes? Couldn’t you wish for a nagging injury to go away? Or for your boss to notice you? The possibilities are endless, so it makes us more curious what Solomon would ask God for given the chance.
Why does it matter what we wish for? Because the longing of our hearts says more about our relationship with God than we might think. Try this out. Fill in the blank. If I could only have blank I would be truly happy. If I could only have blank I would be truly happy. This is a trick question. There are only two correct answers. It’s not something for yourself—like good health, loads of money, or status. Nor is it something clever like, “If I could only have world peace I would be truly happy.”
If you put Jesus in the blank, then congratulations you already have him! Forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation are yours. Your every wish has been granted. So that is one answer. If you put anything besides Jesus, you are either creating an idol by saying, “only this can truly satisfy me” or you are accusing God of failing to do a good enough job in Christ. So one answer is Jesus. The other answer is “I already have Jesus so if I could only have what I need to serve him better” is other answer. This kind of answer simply shows that while we have all we need in God, there is room for God to bless us for the purpose he has for us.
And this is Solomon’s answer:
6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 7 “Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
You see? Solomon starts his answer to God’s offer for a wish quite simply by saying, “Lord look at all you have already given me! Look at what you gave my father David. And who am I that I should have all this?” He already has all he needs in the promises of God, especially the promise for a Saviour. So what is left?
Solomon realizes quite a lot. He was called to serve as king. But even though he had all these blessings, he felt he could really use even more blessing from God to carry out his duties. He feels like a little child who doesn’t know how to go in or out. He feels like he doesn’t even know the basics of ruling a nation, in spite of being brought up in the palace of King David. So he wisely asks for the ability to discern right from wrong. Solomon was using his one wish to be the best king he could be, since this is the role to which God had called him to serve. It was a very practical request. It was not selfish at all. As king Solomon would be listening to all kinds of people—advisers, ambassadors, people petitioning him for help and justice. And it would be his job to determine what is right and fair. In every case Solomon asks God to give him the heart to listen and then to determine what is right and wrong.
As Christians, when we consider what should be our greatest request of God has already been fulfilled in Christ. We are God’s children. Like Solomon God has already prepared for us all that we need in Jesus, forgiveness for our sins, peace with God, the status of being adopted into God’s family of believers in baptism, the promise of eternal life in heaven. If that’s all God gave us, we could truly be satisfied. But he gives us even more as well. So if we could, like Solomon ask God for anything we want, what more is there?
Like Solomon we can reflect and see that the response of a believer is not to ask more for ourselves—luxuries, comfort, and ease in life, rather we can ask for God’s help to reflect his grace in our lives more in service to others. We can ask God for help to be better workers in our jobs, better students in the classroom, better parents to our children, better husbands or wives to our spouse, more faithful in all that we do serving the Lord.
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.
What is amazing about this story is how God responds to Solomon’s wish. He not only grants this wish, he promises to make Solomon the wisest person who has ever lived, he even gives Solomon all the blessings Solomon didn’t ask for as well. A quick read through the stories in the Bible about Solomon’s reign shows us how God carried out these promises. Solomon’s reign as king became the golden age in Israel’s history of peace, prosperity and synonymous with the great temple that Solomon and the people built for the Lord. In the end Solomon didn’t need three wishes. In asking God to be equipped to serve people in his role as king, God blessed him with far more than he asked.
But that is Solomon. You and I, we haven’t been visited by God in a dream and given a chance to ask for anything we want, have we? We can’t really apply this story to ourselves because we’ll never get to ask God for something like a genie, will we?
Well, not so fast. Our Lord Jesus who sits at God’s right hand and rules all things as our resurrected Saviour has something to say to us in this matter. He says to us his believers in John 15 these words of encouragement:
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Solomon is not the only one loved by God and given this grace to ask God for anything he wants. Connected to Jesus through faith, and trusting in his Word, Jesus offers you the very same grace, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” But notice the context here. Notice for what purpose Jesus gives us this chance to ask—“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
You can ask God for anything you wish. But knowing in Christ, you are already connected to God as his dear children, what we ask for is not more for ourselves, but the chance to bear more fruit. God make me to be the best father I can be to my children, raising them as your own. Lord Jesus, make me to be the most faithful pastor to your calling serving even your lost sheep who don’t know you. Lord God, help me to be a loving husband and faithful to my wife. Lord Jesus open doors for our congregation to let our light shine in the community around us so that we may show ourselves to be your disciples.
And what does Jesus promise? It will be done for us, because this is how much he loves us—that he wants to bless us with everything our heart desires in him. And frankly it’s better than a genie in a bottle. Because the Lord wants to give us even more than what we ask. He who gave his Son for us, will certainly along with Jesus give us all things that we may grow up in him unto eternal life. Amen.