Solomon follows his father’s instructions with one notable exception—King Solomon offers sacrifices and incense in the high places. In most biblical contexts, such sacrifices were not acceptable, but here Solomon takes it upon himself to diverge and ascend the high places—a syncretism with Canaanite religion we would expect God to condemn.
Contrary to expectations, God appears to Solomon, and Solomon appears to have pleased the Lord. “Ask for whatever you want me to give you,” God begins—which is a rather generous offer, even from God. Could it be that location and form are not as important as the sincerity and intention of the seeker? Perhaps an idolatrous place for one person is a portal of divine access for another. We do not usually think of the God of the Old Testament as being loose with the boundaries, and yet here God is, showing up in the forbidden place without reservation and bearing unrestricted gifts.
Sometimes when we need an answer, we feel we must know the right way to ask or the right place to look, and we end up paralyzed by our own uncertainty. Instead of climbing the mountain to pray, we stay in bed and hide. We’d rather avoid success than risk retribution.
When we feel disposed to hide, we remember the rookie king who breaks from his father’s tradition to do his own kind of search and to offer his own kind of prayer. To his great surprise, God answers. What drives Solomon to depart from the way set before him by a “man after God’s own heart?” Is it curiosity? adventure? discontent? The most important step in the quest for wisdom is to begin.
O God of surprise appearances, help me ascend to the high places of the heart to search for you without fear of judgment or failure. Amen.
If you could ask God for one thing, what would it be? God offered this chance to Solomon, and the king asked for wisdom to rule God’s people well. God honored this request by giving Solomon many other gifts too, as long as the king followed God’s ways. (Later on, unfortunately, Solomon lost his way.) The psalmist tells us that wisdom begins with understanding who we are and who God is. Ephesians addresses practical implications of wise living: follow the will of the Lord, be filled with the Spirit, encourage one another, and be grateful to God. The Gospel passage continues Jesus’ metaphorical description of himself as the bread of heaven. Here Jesus anticipates the sacrament of Communion, in which we partake of his body and blood by faith.
• Read 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14. Why are you afraid to ask God to meet your needs or show you your call?
• Read Psalm 111. What actions dominate your quest for God? Do you remember to stop and delight in God’s love for you?
• Read Ephesians 5:15-20. How do you make the most of your time with God? How do you show others that you are filled with the Spirit?
• Read John 6:51-58. In Communion we recall Jesus’ offering of his body and blood. How has that concept been a stumbling block to you?
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