5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you.’ 6And Solomon said, ‘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 towards you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7And 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. 8And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?’ 10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.[I Kings 5-10 NRSV]
The above was read in churches following the Revised Common Lectionary last weekend (August 17, 2015, 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B) and it has been poking me all week ever since.
Some scattered thoughts about this story from the Hebrew Scriptures:
It takes humility to ask for wisdom. To ask for it assumes the lack of it. We don't pray enough about wisdom, I think. I worry it's because we think we don't need to.
Maybe "wisdom" isn't a helpful word right now. It has come to mean "smart," and that isn't necessarily the same thing. In fact, the NRSV doesn't use the word "wisdom" but "understanding." Solomon asks for "an understanding mind." Perhaps we need to remember Solomon's prayer when we are not understanding.
There are a number of things in my personal life that I'm really quite confused about. There's a lot happening on social and political fronts that look like a lot of angry confusion (and some angry clarity, perhaps, but a lot of confusion). We don't know how to talk to each other. We don't know how to negotiate peace between us. I think we need to find the humility to admit we don't understand and ask for it, in our religious and spiritual communities, and in our own personal lives. Solomon's prayer should give us pause, bring us back to some sense that we don't have all the answers.
I'm even feeling confusion about how to talk about this beyond this broad outline. I want to say things about #BlackLivesMatter and the 2016 presidential race and about famous pedophiles and famous adulterers. The daily (hourly?) news gives us something to comment on.
But I admit, I lack a certain amount of understanding about all these things, even as I have very strong feelings about all of them.
One of our hymns last Sunday was a favorite of mine, "God of Grace and God of Glory." It was obviously chosen to go along with the Hebrew scripture reading with it's refrain of "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage."
I'm going to close with an admission that I'm feeling like I am sorely lacking in both. It's time to pray.