|Volume 24 Number 2 February 2022
T. Pierce Brown
The inspired and inspiring story of the choice of Solomon as recorded in 1 Kings 3:1-16 is worthy of our intensive study. He had had a long and solemn time of sacrificing offerings to God, with a great sense of gratitude and an awareness of his weakness and unworthiness. He exemplified Jesus’ statement, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3 NKJV). The importance of making the right choices at the right time is beyond comprehension.
Every new opportunity or circumstance that confronts us demands a choice, or usually, many choices. Even for a somewhat insignificant event, many choices are involved. Suppose a friend says, “Let us go out and eat.” You have to choose first whether you go. Then, you choose the time to go, the place to go, what to eat and many other things.
Every choice, no matter how little it may be, involves your character. The things you choose and the basis on which you choose them depends upon and suggests the kind of character you have and will have. Often a seemingly small choice will determine the direction of your whole life. I am told that there is a place in Europe where a person might stand and throw a piece of wood in one of three directions. If it falls in one stream at that point, it will flow north into one sea. If it falls into another stream nearby, it will flow south into another sea. If it falls into another stream within reach, it will flow west into another sea. Each destination is thousands of miles from the other, but at the beginning, they were close together. Whether or not that is true, it illustrates the reality about our choices. To make it more realistic to you, think of standing on a spot and facing in one direction from which you may start walking. With just a slight turn, you are facing in another direction. If you start walking in that direction, you will end your journey several thousand miles from where you would be at the first point.
The greatest choices we can make are things that relate to serving humanity wisely under God’s direction. The most fundamental choice we can make is the one Joshua suggested in Joshua 24:15, “…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Keep in mind the principle involved here. Make the big choice right and most of the little choices are automatically made without difficulty. My choices of what drinks to serve at meals and what woman I take out to dinner were largely determined by one previous choice.
When I was a boy, I read of Aladdin’s lamp with the genie who granted wishes. God had a better offer to Solomon. “Ask! What I shall give you” (1 Kings 3:5). There are some principles behind making any worthwhile choice. First, we need to cultivate the proper desire. Second, we need to make that choice consciously and deliberately. Third, verbalize that choice. Let us note an important difference between having a desire and choosing what will cause us to gain that desire. A person may want to be healthy. Choosing to exercise, eat properly and exercise self-control are different matters. A person may wish he had the knowledge or the ability to be an artist, pilot, swimmer, golfer or personal evangelist. To do the studying and practice that would give any of these is another thing. Brother Gus Nichols told of a woman who said, “I would give 40 years of my life to know the Bible like you do.” He replied, “That is what it took.” Of course, she would not and did not either before or after the conversation.
I am persuaded the same kind of situation confronts us. God made promises to us that may surpass what He offered to Solomon, but few of us take Him at His word or accept them on His terms. Second Peter 1:3-4 says, “…His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…” Note some of them, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Even such a promise as the one found in 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 is not accepted by most of us. Do you have all sufficiency in all things? If not, perhaps the reason is that you have not accepted God’s promise on His terms. I am convinced that most of us do not really believe and accept Ephesians 3:20, which says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Our faith and vision are both too small, otherwise, we would be doing far greater things for the Lord.
Solomon made a very wise choice. He said in 1 Kings 3:9, “…Give to Your servant an understanding heart.” Before he made that choice, he looked backward to God’s goodness and power, outward to the needs around him, inward to his inability to do his work by his own power and upward to the source of the power he needed.
It is not enough to have the opportunity of choosing. One must decide what course to pursue or which goals are worth seeking. In Solomon’s case, it was to discern what was good and bad and to be able to do that which was best for all concerned. This should be our attitude. Then, there was a statement of his desire. James 4:2 says, “…You do not have because you do not ask.” Could that also be a part of the reason we do not receive more blessings? We do not really have our hearts set on worthwhile goals to the extent that we can specify those goals clearly. Often, we simply say, “Lord bless us.” Imagine a son who wants a bicycle, but only says to his father, “Bless me.” There are good reasons for God wanting us to specify. One of them is that unless we know what we want enough to define it clearly, probably if we received it, we would not use it properly.
Solomon’s choice pleased God because it indicated an attitude of humility. It was not for his selfish advantage. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Solomon’s choice was both for the honor and the good of his people, as well as for the glory of God. If our goals and aspirations always included those things, there is little doubt that we would receive far more things we want and need.
Because it was such a wise choice, Solomon not only got what he asked, but he received far more than he thought (1 Kings 3:12-13). When Jesus says, “…Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33), and when He said “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7), Jesus expressed the thoughts I want to emphasize in this article. When Jesus said, “Ask what you desire,” we must remember that our will must be to do His will. The promises of God for granting our prayers involve the attitude of loving obedience. These promises are for every faithful child of God.