In a dream, the Lord said to king Solomon “Ask what I shall give you.”
If God gave you this offer, what would you ask for?
Solomon had before him one wish, without limits, to ask for whatever he wanted. He could ask for agricultural success to ensure food, oil, and wine for the nation. He could ask for livestock to ensure meat and clothing for the nation. He could ask for precious metals to make the nation rich and give them trading power. He could ask for military strength to provide security to the nation. He could have asked for wisdom alone to solve issues and innovate for the benefit of the kingdom. Any of these would have been an honorable, reasonable, and selfless ask.
But instead, Solomon asks for something better: an “understanding mind.” I love the way it sounds in English but I prefer the literal translation of the Hebrew lev shema, which translates to a listening heart.
He says, “Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1Kings 3:9). Solomon did not need to ask for anything else; food, livestock, wealth, national security, and wisdom would be the fruits of a listening heart.
Unfortunately, despite having a listening heart, he also had a disobedient heart. Solomon would squander his gift by destroying all the good he brought. But we are told in Matthew 12:42 that in Christ, someone “greater than Solomon is here.” One who had more than a listening heart, but also an obedient heart. Speaking of Christ, the author of Hebrews says:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him… (Hebrews 5:8-9).
Christ had a listening heart ready to obey what was required of him. As Christ modeled for us, a listening heart must be a doing heart. One that does not grow weary of doing good (Heb 13:16; Rom 12:13; Phil 4:18, Jam 1:22-25) and walks humbly and gently.
Let’s go back to the question we began with: if God gave you this offer, what would you ask for? Let our answer be,
Lord, give me a listening and obedient heart.