Chapter three begins: “Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt” (3:1). This thing has the potential for not ending well! The people were sacrificing at the high places. At the high place at Gibeon, Solomon sacrificed, but then he prayed one of the most wonderful prayers recorded in the Scriptures (ch. 3). What a mixed up mess of a story line! Sort of like our lives, I suppose. Still, Solomon’s prayer is just right. When asking of the Lord, he might have asked anything, but he asked for wisdom, “and God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore” (4:29). Furthermore, “Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon” (4:25).
In so many ways, it was a golden age for the people of Israel. Solomon built the temple (ch. 6) and so much in addition. Politically and religiously, he was able to focus the people on the city of Jerusalem: Zion, the royal city, the city of God. Here’s the deal, though. As wonderful as these years were, Solomon did not faithfully persevere and continue his good start. In fact, I was looking ahead a bit, and I saw in my Bible, over chapter 11, the heading “Solomon’s Errors.” The life lived with God requires such devotion and a commitment to continue in his ways. Like Solomon, we struggle and, sometimes, it seems as if we take two steps back for every step forward. Always, our prayer should be:
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word;
I ever with thee, and thou with me, Lord.
Born of thy love, thy child may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee. –Old Irish hymn translated by Mary E. Byrne