Reflections From a Franciscan

Solomon asks for an understanding heart

By Rev. Fr. Trevor D’Souza OFM

1 Kings 3

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: ….. I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; … I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour.

We have a saying in English, “as wise as Solomon!” 

What do people ask for in life? When our children are getting married, we ask for dowry. When we are sick and lying in hospital, we ask for healing. We ask for good health and well being for our children. When our parents are dying we ask for our share of property. Business people ask for prosperity, wealth,  … rulers ask for glory, honour, status, … 

Solomon was different, he asked for a “discerning and understanding heart”. Something rarely asked for in a prayer request! 

Discernment is the ability to make value judgements and moral decisions. In Deuteronomy God said, see I have placed before you life and death, a blessing and a curse. And God pleads with his people, use your gift of freedom and knowledge to choose life, the ways of life, the path that will lead you to life, to make decisions that are life giving.

Three principles of discernment. One, decisions should be guided by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26). Second, decisions should be made in the light of God’s Word (Psalm 119:105). Thirdly, decisions should be made after we have consulted God in personal prayer (Mark 14:32ff). 

Because Solomon asked for understanding and discerning heart, God gave him all that he did not ask for as well, prosperity, wealth, honour.

Let us have the wisdom to know how to ask wisely!