Give Me a Wise and Discerning Mind

Meditation on 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14

Pastor Karen Crawford

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, OH 43812

August 15, 2021

We are finishing week 2 following Jim’s knee surgery. These past two weeks have been nothing like any of the weeks we have experienced in our 16-year marriage. But I want you to know that Jim is doing better! Thank you for your prayers and cards and words of encouragement! His pain is a little less, and he’s getting around a little more. He has begun physical therapy at Three Rivers with Michelle. Isn’t she awesome? I took him for the first time on Wednesday and asked, “How long is this going to take?” She said,  “About 45 minutes.” And I asked, “Could you keep him about 4 hours so I can get my life back?” They said it was OK if I were a little late coming back from shopping at Buehler’s. So I was!

     That’s one of the new things in my life with Jim—I am doing all the driving and the shopping, for now. Jim used to do all the shopping—and there was a good reason for this. When I go to the store, I am distracted—and I get so excited, because I never go to the store! I end up buying way more than what’s on my list.  Then I get home and I’m wondering, “What should we have for dinner?”

Another thing I am not used to doing is cooking for the family. There’s a reason for that. It takes me forever!!! Jim plans ahead, shops for the ingredients, and knows how to throw everything together quickly and have dinner ready on time. And tasting delicious!

He also manages to wash all the dishes and have the kitchen clean every night. I often end up having pots soaking overnight and washing in the morning while I am unloading the dishwasher.

These last few weeks, we have had many decisions to make—about Jim’s care, his rehab, and PT and how we would set him up at home. I didn’t know we would need to rent a hospital bed. I had never done that before. Thank God for Betty Jo at Free’s Medical Supply!

We ended up moving our bedroom and my office downstairs in the basement so we could kind of live on one level of our split-level house. Jim would be able to use his walker and get to the only handicapped accessible bathroom.  Theoretically, I wouldn’t have to run up and down the stairs too much. The reality is that I am running up and down the stairs all day long. My friend, Sis, a retired gym teacher in her 90s, comforted me by saying,  “At least you are getting good exercise.”

   “That’s true,” I laughed. Now if only I could get more consistent sleep!

I had a terrible dream a couple of nights ago. I woke up in a panic! Has that happened to you? I dreamed that I came to church  and discovered it was Sunday morning. I was in my pajamas! And I didn’t have anything prepared for the service! Now you know a pastor’s nightmare!

That’s when I realized that my prayer needed to be more than, “Lord, help us and Lord, heal Jim.” It also needs to be, “Lord give us wisdom for all these decisions.  Guide us in your will every moment of every day.  Help us to be faithful to walk in your ways.”

     Solomon is our example of the one king of Israel who knew his limitations—and how much he needed the Lord to be able to live out his calling from God. He had a dream encounter with God when he was worshiping him, offering sacrifices in the high place at Gibeon, at the beginning of his reign. When God asked him what he should give him, young Solomon answered humbly and eloquently, “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.”

      Solomon is all of 15 when his father dies or “slept with his ancestors,” as the Hebrew Bible so poetically describes death. He knew he had BIG shoes to fill. His father, David, was 30 when he was anointed king.

Acts 13:22 says that God testified “concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” David led his army to conquer Jerusalem; he made it the capital and, having the Ark of the Covenant brought there,  he made it the center of worship for the Israelites. David was a musician and is considered the author of many of the songs in ancient Israel’s hymnal—the book of Psalms.

Though David was a sinful man, committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband, Uriah, killed, to cover up his sin and be with her, he would become the most beloved king in Israel’s history. He reigned 40 years over a united monarchy of Israel and Judah.

His son, Solomon, would go on to do great things, reigning from 970 to 931 BCE. Beginning in the 4th year of his reign, he used some of the enormous wealth that he and his father accumulated to build the First Temple in Jerusalem.

 Solomon is traditionally considered the author of several biblical books: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon or Song of Songs.

But that day, when Solomon was offering sacrifices to the Lord on behalf of his people and worrying about how on earth he would ever be king of Israel, he had only one request of the Lord—wisdom.

 “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people,” Solomon says, “able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

God is pleased with Solomon’s request—as God would be pleased if we asked for the same. The Lord blesses him with more than he has requested. Solomon will have great wealth and long life.

What Solomon is best known for is his wisdom— the gift of a wise and discerning mind to lead God’s people. One famous example of Solomon’s wisdom is when two women came to him claiming to be mother of the same child. Solomon resolves the dispute by commanding the child be cut in two. One woman quickly renounces her claim, proving that she would rather give the child up than see it killed. Solomon declares the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, entitled to the whole child.

      Our readings in 1 Kings and in Ephesians remind us that now is the time to live as wise people, not foolishly wasting these days God has given us. Let us prepare for our Lord’s return by seeking the source of all wisdom. Here is the promise in James 1:5,

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

But what is wisdom? It’s not being smart or knowing the answers to every Jeopardy question. Wisdom isn’t the same thing as trivia or knowledge, which “puffs up.” And the wisdom of this world isn’t the same as the wisdom of the Lord.  Paul says in 1 Cor. 3:19-20:  “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

The wisest thing that young Solomon ever did was admit to God that he didn’t have a clue!! And that his calling to rule over Israel was something he couldn’t do on his own. He certainly hadn’t earned this calling from his own merit or good works. Just as we don’t earn our callings through good works.

The starting place for wisdom, then, is knowing, loving, and TRUSTING the Lord AND knowing ourselves and being honest with ourselves.  There is a wisdom in knowing our limits.  There is a wisdom in knowing our potential—because  nothing is impossible with God!  And we are God’s beloved!!!

Most of all, there is a wisdom in knowing  God is with us, we are with each other, and we are not alone. With the gift of wisdom comes  responsibility for FAITHFULNESS. Do you want to be pleasing to God? Seek to DO God’s will every day. Be faithful!

When you leave this place today, go, walking in the wisdom of the God who lights the path before us.  Go blessed by the God who journeys with us. The God who wants us to ask of him, like Solomon, “Give me a wise and discerning mind.”

Let us pray.

Dear Lord, sometimes we don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to ask for. We feel overwhelmed in some of the seasons of our lives. But we always know that we need you, we love you, we trust you. We want to be pleasing to you, like Solomon was. Lord, give us a wise and discerning mind. Grant us wisdom for the many decisions that we are facing as individuals and as your Church, the Body of Christ. Heal the sick, bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted. Provide for those in need—body, mind, and spirit. And guide us in your will every moment of every day. Help us to be faithful to walk in your ways. In our Triune God we pray. Amen.

Published by karenpts

I am the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, New York on Long Island. Come and visit! We want to share God’s love and grace with you and encourage you on your journey of faith. I have served Presbyterian congregations in Minnesota, Florida and Ohio since my ordination in 2011. I am a 2010 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and am working on a doctor of ministry degree with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I am married to Jim and we have 5 grown children and two grandchildren in our blended family. We are parents to fur babies, Liam, an orange tabby cat, and Minnie, a toy poodle.

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