Beyond Asking

Beyond Asking March 20, 2017

Paul said that God gives us abundantly more than we can ask or imagine, according to the resurrection power of Jesus in us (Ephesians 3:20). Solomon could have told us as much.

When Yahweh appears to Solomon at Gibeon, He offers to give the king whatever he asks (2 Chronicles 1). When Solomon asks for wisdom, Yahweh responds chiastically (vv. 11–12):

A. Because you did not ask for riches, wealth, honour, life of those who hate you, long life,

B. but asked for wisdom and knowledge

C. to judge this people over which you are king.

B’. Therefore wisdom and knowledge are given to you

A’. and I will also give riches, wealth, and honour beyond all kings before and after you.

Solomon’s request is specific, and he gets what he asks. But the Lord also responds positively to the prayers that are unasked. Solomon is not promised the lives of his enemies or a long life, but he is promised riches, wealth, and honor to go with his the wisdom and knowledge that he requested. Intriguingly, the gift of wisdom and knowledge is stated passively (“is given”), while the gifts of riches, wealth, and honor are explicitly from Yahweh (“I will give”).

The center of the Lord’s speech indicates the point of it all: Solomon needs wisdom and knowledge to judge Israel. And his riches, wealth, and glory are also intended for that end. Yahweh gives gifts to the king to enable him to rule well.

How might that work? Riches have the power to corrupt, but they can also be a protection against corruption. A king who is wealthy may be able to resist the lure of bribes. Besides, wealth expands the imagination, or can do. Projects that a man of modest means will dismiss as pipe dreams are within the range of possibility for wealthy people. A king with riches and wealth can act out his dreams of justice.

Glory can also corrupt, but glory can also be used to promote justice. Solomon’s glory attracts kings and queens to Jerusalem. They hear to his wisdom, the wisdom that begins with the fear of Yahweh. Without the awesome radiance of glory, Solomon would not have an audience of kings. Glory gives him a platform to encourage kings to walk in Yahweh’s ways.

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