Early in the reign of Solomon, God appeared to him in a dream and gave him an incredible opportunity: “Ask what I shall give thee” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon’s request teaches us a key truth about him as the king that many believers may have overlooked:
“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?” (3:9).
Given the opportunity to ask for whatever he wished, Solomon asked for wisdom so that he could judge God’s people. His request, therefore, shows that he viewed his work as the supreme judicial agent of God over His kingdom as uniquely important.
God was greatly pleased with Solomon’s request (3:10) and gave him far more than what he asked for (3:11-13). The record of God’s great pleasure over Solomon’s request and His richly rewarding him for making that request strongly suggests that Solomon asked for something that was of unique importance for him as the king of Israel.
By following this account immediately with a record of Solomon’s use of his excelling God-given wisdom to judge a dispute among God’s people (3:16-27), the inspired author confirms this interpretation. Moreover, by then stating the nationwide effect of his superlative display of divine wisdom to judge, the writer further confirms this interpretation:
“And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment” (3:28).
Through the inspired record that plainly stresses Solomon’s God-given wisdom to judge His people, we should learn that being the chief judge for God over His people, Israel, was of unique importance for Solomon as the king of Israel. What, then, should we understand about the work in the kingdom of God that was (and is and will yet in a special way be) of unique importance for Jesus Christ, the King of Israel (John 1:49), who was (and is and ever will be) greater than Solomon was (Luke 11:31)?