PRAY for an UNDERSTANDING HEART for DISCERNMENT: At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, "Ask! What shall I give you?" And Solomon said: "Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" (1 Kings 3:5-9)
Solomon was following in the footsteps of a remarkable man David (1 Kings 3:6), a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). He was saddled with the responsibility of leading God’s people (3:8) who had historically been stubborn, rebellious, and hard on their leaders, even though he was young and inexperienced (3:7). He had just ascended the throne after a messy fight with his elder brother Adonijah over succession (1 Kings 1–2). Due to all these pressures, Solomon asked God for the ability to “discern between good and evil” (1 Kin. 3:9). In answer, God granted Solomon wisdom beyond any measure that he had anticipated (1 Kin. 3:12), and added “all these things” (Matt. 6:33) like long life, honor, and great wealth (3:13–14) as well.
Solomon “loved the Lord” (v. 3) and desired to know the difference between good and evil so that he could make righteous judgments using that knowledge. When Solomon prayed for an understanding heart, he wanted to hear the voice of God and following its lead in obedience. He also wanted to have the extraordinary ability to listen to all sides of an issue and judge righteously through the power of reasoning. Both qualities are needed in making good judgments, as wisdom and justice were highly esteemed qualities for a good king in the ancient Near East (Prov. 20:26; 21:1–3).
When Satan came in the form of a serpent to tempt Eve, he suggested that she should eat the forbidden fruit so that her eyes will be opened and she will be like God knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5). The ability to discern between good and evil has been a sought after ability from ages past and today is a sign of maturity for all believers. "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb 5:14).
We know that God answered Solomon’s request in abundant measure, granting him not only an understanding heart, but one that was wise for handling the crucial affairs of life in a fair and skillful manner. The abilities that God gave to Solomon were truly exceptional. Today God offers to everyone the greatest gift for which one could possibly ask—the Lord Jesus Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Let us pray to God that He may also grant to us an understanding heart that we too can discern both good and evil, and make the right decisions in every step of our life’s journey!
Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. "They shall be Mine," says the Lord of hosts, "On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him." Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him" (Mal 3:16-18).