|"The Wisdom of Solomon" by James Tissot|
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Kings 3:16-28
TO CHEW ON: "And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered, and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice." 1 Kings 3:28
Solomon prayed for discernment when God came to him and asked "What shall I give you?" (1 Kings 3:5,9). In our reading today we see in a real life situation, the answer to Solomon's prayer.
Every time I read this story I marvel at the audacity of Solomon's suggestion (cut a child in two—really?!) and the innate understanding of human nature that it showed (the strength of a mother's love for her child).
[The word discern used in 1 Kings 3:9 is the Hebrew word transliterated biyn. Some of the many English words and phrases used to render it are act wisely, consider carefully, gaze, interpret, investigate, observe, ponder, and perceive.]
Biyn occurs 28 times in Proverbs (thought to be written mainly by Solomon). These proverbs alert us to some of the many aspects of discernment.
1. Discernment is present in God, comes from God, and is enhanced by seeking after God (Proverbs 24:12; 2:6-11; 28:5).
2. It involves listening to and taking advice from the wise, and being willing to learn (Proverbs 1:5,6; 18:15).
3. Its presence or absence is revealed in the words that come out of one's mouth (Proverbs 10:13; 16:21; 17:28).
4. The discerning person learns from rebuke and reproof (Proverbs 17:10; 23:1).
5. He/she also pays attention to circumstances (Proverbs 23:1).
6. Discernment in citizens makes them an asset to the community (Proverbs 28:2; 29:7).
7. Discernment isn't determined by class or position (Proverbs 28:11).
8. Self-discipline is an aspect of discernment (Proverbs 28:7).
9. Some of discernment's enemies are scoffing, naiveté, and foolishness (Proverbs 14:6; 14:15; 15:33).
Some Old Testament characters known for their discernment (in addition to Solomon) were Joseph (Genesis 41:33,39) and Daniel and his three friends (Daniel 1:4,17).
In the New Testament Paul reiterates the fact that spiritual discernment is available only through God, the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The writer of Hebrews says that practicing and using discernment makes it stronger (Hebrews 5:14).
In these early days of 2016, let's follow Solomon's example of asking God for the gift of discernment, even as we do what we can to weave the threads of wise and discerning behavior into our lives.
PRAYER: Dear God, please give me discernment that is demonstrated in wise living. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.