“Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.” (I Kings 2:10-12)
David had some parting advice for his son – who to watch out for and who to welcome. I guess after 40 years as king you make some friends . . . and some enemies. It is sad to think that David might have passed on a legacy of suffering consequences for making poor decisions, as David did on several occasions. But Solomon proved to be a little bit different from David; and that difference made a lot of difference!
“Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”
(I Kings 3:3-9)
Tradition had it that the higher regions of the land of Israel was where idol worship took place. Solomon worshiped God in the high places, but at least it was to God that he worshiped and sacrificed. Later on he built places of worship for his wives who did not worship God. But that is later in the story of Solomon. We are here now, at his beginning, when all things are fresh and new.
“It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.” (I Kings 3:10-14)
What do you ask for, beloved reader, when you are starting on a new job or new task? I had the experience the morning that I wrote this of knowing I needed to pray to God about the tasks ahead of me today, but I did not know what to pray for. Of course the simple answer was wisdom. But my thoughts were so tangled and confused I did not know what to pray for. Fortunately for me the Spirit knew what needed to be prayed and from my lips I heard words coming that I did not know how or why I was forming. It was a good prayer, asking, in a round about way, for the wisdom to deal with what was ahead. And I did manage to get through the first part of the task. But this task will take several days; hopefully tomorrow morning when I do my morning prayers, I will have the good sense to ask for wisdom. Not the wisdom that Solomon had, because his wisdom was legendary. But the wisdom I need, I will ask for that. However, if I may add, I will not worship in the “high places” but in my own room where I have prayed many times before. And the only sacrifice will be my willing and contrite heart. May you do so also, beloved reader. Selah!