Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“O Lord my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou hast healed me. O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave; Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit…In His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning…Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be Thou my helper.”
Psalm 30: 2,3,5, 10
“I hear it singing, singing sweetly,
Softly in an undertone –
Singing as if God had taught it,
‘It is better farther on!’
Night and day it sings the same song,
Sings it while I sit alone,
Sings so that the heart may hear it,
‘It is better farther on!’
Sits upon the grave and sings it,
Sings it when the heart would groan,
Sings it when the shadows darken,
‘It is better farther on!’
Farther on? Oh, how much farther?
Count the milestones one by one –
No, not counting, only trusting,
‘It is better farther on!’”
Today’s Study Text:
“In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night. And God said, ‘Ask what I shall give you’…’Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of David my father, and I am but a lad in wisdom and experience. I know not how to go out (to begin) or come in (finish)…So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people?’”
1 Kings 3: 5,7,9
An Understanding Mind
“Seek not so much to have thy ear tickled as thy understanding enlightened”
What does it mean to me to have an understanding mind?
What would it mean to be given God’s gift of an “understanding mind”?
“Understanding is the reward of faith. So do not seek to understand in order that you may believe, but believe, so that you may understand.”
Augustine of Hippo
“Be not like the horse or the mule, which lack understanding, which must have their mouths held firm with bit and bridle, or else they will not come with you.”
Psalm 32: 9
He was a young man who faced a daunting task – the leadership of the people of Israel as their king. What’s more, Solomon was following in the footsteps of his father David, who had left a large imprint on the lives of the people.
As this young, inexperienced “lad,” as Solomon referred to himself, rose to accept the assignment God had given him, I’m certain he had mixed feelings. And I would conclude that all of us might feel the same way. While the new position could look exciting, after closer scrutiny and even though he knew ahead of time that he was heir to the throne, Solomon recognized he had deficits. He was lacking. And where he fell short in job qualifications, led him to declare to God that he felt intimidated by the job he faced.
Let me ask you a few questions. If you had been in Solomon’s kingly sandals where would you have turned first? What would you have done to settle the butterflies in your stomach? How would you have armed yourself so that you could perform your job successfully?
I thought a lot about these questions. Some of the first things I might have done would be to get a proper educational degree behind my name. Or possibly, I would have surrounded myself with others whose training and experience could assist me in filling in the holes in my own résumé. I might add, none of these prospective plans are wrong or imperfect on their own.
But what we find is that before Solomon reached out for his own do-it-yourself improvement plan, he turned to his heavenly Father, who had been the “One” who had put him on the throne in the first place, and when God, our generous Father, offered to supply Solomon with gifts from His gracious hand, this young “lad” asked for, as our study text tells us, “an understanding mind and a hearing heart.” What a way to begin his rulership of Israel.
I found in the Hebrew, that the word “understanding,” “shawmah” in Hebrew, is only used once in the Old Testament and it is in 1 Kings 3. This particular Hebrew word for understanding means “to hear intelligently, to consider, to discern.”
In essence, Solomon was asking God to empower him with the ability to think before he acted. He wanted to be a thoughtful person whose reactions and judgments reflected considerations infused by his Father in heaven whose wisdom Solomon wanted to rely on.
Interestingly, as we read in the text above, found in Psalm 32: 9, and penned by none other than Solomon’s own father, David, the gift of understanding was something that seemed to weave itself through this family. Here we find David, likening people who don’t have heaven’s blessed gift of understanding, to unbridled, wild horses. Pastor John Calvin, known for his often colorful language, went a step farther when he declared, “Man (or woman) with all his (her) shrewdness is stupid about understanding by himself (herself) the mysteries of God, as an ass is incapable of understanding musical harmony.”
Mighty strong language! However, as I reflected on this statement, I must admit it rang with truth. How often I know I have mistakenly come to the erroneous conclusion that I “understood” all kinds of things, only to find out that what I thought was “understanding” was misguided folly.
Recently, I had a friend I’ve know for many years boldly declare, as she has frequently done in the past, that she and her husband are quite convinced, thank you very much, that God is a crock, dreamed up by those of us who need a crutch to lean on because we are too weak to hold ourselves up by our own strength which I might add, to her, means our own riches, our own brains and our own brawn.
But I’ll never forget an interaction this same friend and I had on a date that will forever live in history – 9/11/2001. You remember this date, too, I am certain. On this terrifying day, when “men and women’s hearts were failing them for fear,” my friend, who lived miles away from me, called me “9” times. Finally she admitted, “I needed to talk to someone today who has a firm belief in a larger power than themselves.”
You see, when we clear away all the bravado espoused by so many, even Christian sometimes, when we think we know it all and that we have an inside track on all truth and that we are knowledgeable and competent – we will come to the same conclusion that Solomon did: “I am incapable of doing it without Your wisdom and Your understanding, my heavenly Father.”
When we do this, how thankful I am that the same God, who so generously bestowed often Solomon, His child, the gift of an understanding mind when he asked, will do the same for you and for me!
As James tells us: “If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let (her) ask of the giving God (who gives) to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given (her)” (James 1: 5, Amplified Bible). What I appreciate about the words of James, who is identified as Jesus’ own brother, is that he says God doesn’t demean us for any lack we have in our lives when it comes to the “Department of Understanding.” He doesn’t regale us with how stupid we are, nor does He reproach us for being slow to catch-on. Instead, from His ever-flowing wealth of understanding and wisdom, He fills our empty tank!
So I ask you today, do you find yourself in a situation at work where you may feel you lack understanding or possibility there’s a baffling home problem which has your mind all confused? Then why not go to your Father, as Solomon did? Tell Him you are just a child, incapable of handling the huge task in front of you. And then watch as our Father starts pouring into you His understanding, given as a free gift from the riches and wealth heaven has to offer. All we have to do is ask for it!
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding.”
Proverbs 4: 7
“Almighty God, give us wisdom to perceive You, intellect to understand You, diligence to seek You, patience to wait for You, eyes to behold You, a heart to meditate upon You and life to proclaim You, through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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