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Solomon and Pastoral Wisdom

This past Sunday Lee Tankersely preached a good message on 1 Kings 3-11, Solomon’s rise & fall. Chapter 3 caught me afresh with implications for pastoral ministry. As Solomon came to the throne the Lord essentially granted him a wish. We know he asked for wisdom and this pleased the Lord so that the Lord gave Solomon wisdom plus wealth, honor and long life.

The Davidic king is not a type of the New Testament pastor, but there are some lesser parallels here. Solomon in chapter three is beginning his role of leading the people of God. If God, as you began a new pastorate, offered you any wish in regards to your ministry, what would you ask for? Longevity? Increase, of wealth or membership? Honor? Or wisdom so that we might shepherd God’s people well?

What struck me was the motivation Solomon gives for his request for wisdom. We know he learned from his father the value of wisdom. But, he does not say, “I know wisdom is the greatest thing so please give me wisdom.” His request is not so abstract. Rather, he acknowledges his inexperience (“I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in”, v. 7) and the greatness of the people. His request arises from humility, acknowledging the greatness of the task and his need for divine aid to adequately lead the people of God. Surely God’s pleasure in this request is tied not only to God’s esteem of wisdom, but even more so to God’s love for His people and his desire for leaders to care for His people (cf. Acts 20).

Surely pastors today realize our own inability to adequately shepherd the people of God. Rather than dreaming of large numbers or wide acclaim, let us ask God for wisdom to lead God’s people well. This will please God.

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