Friday, May 13, 2016

Praying With Humility

Earlier this week, my bible study found me in 1 Kings 3, the story in which King Solomon asks for wisdom. Many know this story in only that brief description, but reading it this time around, something stuck out to me that I hadn't noticed before. Verses 1-15 tell of how God came to Solomon in a dream, offering him to have anything he desires. Solomon, however, did not answer the way one might expect the twenty-year-old king to respond. He didn't ask for wealth or power or the most beautiful woman in the country. No, Solomon didn't ask for any of these things; instead he asked for discernment so that he might rule well. In return, God granted him not only the discernment he asked for, but also so much wisdom, that he will forever be known as the wisest man who ever lived.
This is the story that most of us know, but what stuck out to me was not what he asked, but how he asked it. Take a look with me at verses 7-9:

“Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give Your servant a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of Yours?”

It was common during biblical times in the Middle East to refer to yourself as “your servant” when addressing someone of higher political/social standing or someone who, at least in this moment, has the authority to accomplish something with which you are incapable of. So this sign of reverence and respect was not unique.
What is unique about Solomon's request was how he humbled himself further by calling himself a “little child” and recognizing that he is nothing more than a steward of what God has given him by referring to Israel as not his people, but the Lord's. In this way he removed himself from the place of control and put God in control of the situation instead. He basically said, “Look, You put me over these people, but they are not mine; they are Yours. Now guide me in what I must do so that I might lead these people in a way that is pleasing to You.”

Between moving to a new apartment, starting a new job, getting engaged, and adopting a puppy, I have spent a lot of time recently not only thanking God for what he has given me but also turning over my life circumstances into His hands. This is big part of the reason I noticed this frequently overlooked aspect of Solomon's request.

But just as with anything in the scriptures, noticing something like this isn't what is important; applying what you've learned to your life is what is important. Here, we should follow Solomon's lead and not only recognize ways God has acted in our lives in the past (having the opportunity to become king, in Solomon's case), but also putting our current circumstances in His hands with humility and reverence. Maybe that will be with your job, as it was for Solomon, or some other big responsibility or blessing such as school, or family, or an important relationship. Whatever it is, we must do as Solomon did and say, “Lord, I did not get here on my own, You had Your hand in it the whole time. I only have what I have because You allow me to be a steward of it for this time—it is not mine, only borrowed. Not my job, my home, my kids, my significant other, or even my life. All of it has been given to me. You are allowing me the opportunity to have influence with these people and in these areas, so please grant me the wisdom to act in each of them with grace so that I may bring glory to Your Name and bring others closer to You.”

(For more of a look into times I have turned over circumstances to God even though it was difficult, read Losing Control.)