Today’s reading: 1 Kings 3; Ephesians 1; Ezekiel 34; Psalms 83–84
In 1955, Frank Sinatra released a song called If I Had Three Wishes. It was on the back of the Capital Records single Learnin’ the Blues (Remember the 45 RPM records that had a hit song on the front and a horrible song they couldn’t even give away on the back?). Learnin’ the Blues went on to be a hit song in the U.S., Great Britain and Australia, but If I had Three Wishes was a dud. It never even hit the charts.
Oh, if I had three wishes, my first would be for you. And if you became my love, I’d return the other two.
With those lyrics, it is obvious why this wasn’t a hit song. It is the wrong answer to the three wishes question – if a genie grants you three wishes, the trick to getting everything you want is to ALWAYS wish for more wishes. Duh!
Today’s scripture in 1 Kings 3 is not about a genie in a bottle granting three wishes. It is, however, about God offering to grant King Solomon the desire of his heart. God says to Solomon, “Ask me for whatever you want and I’ll give it to you” (1 Kings 3:5, International Standard Version). The Bible doesn’t say exactly how old Solomon was in 1 Kings when he assumed the throne from his father David, but theologians estimate he was about twelve years old. He was very young and inexperienced. Accordingly, Solomon’s response to God’s offer was a request for wisdom – an understanding mind and the ability to discern good from evil. He understood his shortcomings and wanted to be better. His wish was bathed in humility and displayed maturity beyond his years. Now look at God’s response. He granted Solomon’s request, but also gave him more than he’d asked – Solomon received wisdom, greatness, riches and honor.
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:10-14, English Standard Version).
I have a twelve year old son. If God gave Freddy Armstrong the option to ask for whatever he wanted, I’m guessing he wouldn’t ask for wisdom. He might ask for wealth and popularity, or maybe for a fancy sports car and a bunch of video games. What would you ask for? Would you ask for wisdom like Solomon? I probably would, of course, because I learned from Solomon’s experience. He asked for wisdom, and received wisdom, greatness, riches and honor. If I asked for wisdom, there is a chance God is going to give me all those things too, right? Wrong. Here is the problem – my wishes are not bathed in humility, rather they reveal the true selfish desires of my heart. God knows my heart, he sees through to my impure motives.
People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives (Proverbs 16:2, New Living Translation).
Yes, I need to learn from Solomon’s experience. Not figure out how to manipulate God to satisfy my selfishness, but to figure out how to transform my desires into reverence for and obedience to God. Here is what Solomon did:
- He started with a sacrifice to God (1 Kings 3:4).
- Next, he acknowledged God’s faithfulness and steadfast love (1 Kings 3:6).
- Finally, he confessed his need for God (1 Kings 3:7-8).
Solomon’s heart was focused on God, not on himself. This is the right answer to the three wishes question:
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires (Psalm 37:4, New Living Translation).