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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[3 Kings 3–4]

AFTER the death of David Solomon ascended the throne. He loved the Lord, and walked in the ways of David, his father. The Lord appeared to him in a dream by night and told him to ask any favour he wished, and that it would be granted. Solomon answered: “O Lord God, Thou hast made Thy servant king instead of David, my father, and I am but a child. Give therefore to Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people and to discern between good and evil.”

The Lord was pleased with his petition, and He said to him: “Because thou hast asked this thing and hast not asked for thyself long life nor riches nor the lives of thy enemies, but hast asked for thyself wisdom to discern judgment, behold, I have done for thee according to thy words and have given thee a wise and understanding heart, insomuch that there hath been no one like thee before thee, nor shall arise after thee. Yea, and the things also which thou didst not ask, I have given thee: riches and glory, so that no one hath been like thee among the kings in all days heretofore. And if thou wilt walk in my ways and keep my precepts and commandments, as thy father walked, I will lengthen thy days.” And Solomon became renowned for wisdom and for power and glory.

On one occasion two women came to Solomon, asking him to decide their dispute. The first woman said: “We were living alone in a house, only we two. Now I had a child, and she had a child; and in the night when she was asleep, she overlaid her child, and it died. And rising in the dead of the night she took my child, while I, thy handmaid, was asleep, and laid her dead child in my bosom. When I arose in the morning, behold, my child was dead; but considering him more diligently when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine.” Then the second woman answered: “It is not so as thou sayest, but thy child is dead and mine is alive.”

But the first woman insisted that the living child was hers, and so they disputed before the king. Then Solomon ordered a sword to be brought to him, and when it was brought he said: “Divide the living child in two and give half to the one and half to the other.” Hearing this, the woman whose child was alive, being moved to pity, cried out in terror: “I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it.” But the other said: “Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.”

Then the king commanded the child to be given to her who would rather give it up to another than have it killed, knowing that she must be its mother. The report of this judgment having gone abroad, the people all feared the king and knew that the wisdom of God was in him. How necessary it is that kings and rulers should examine in the spirit of justice and wisdom all cases brought before them!

God’s Goodness to Solomon was wonderful. What gifts did He bestow and what promises did He make the young king?

Love of God and our neighbour. Solomon, by his great virtues, had made himself worthy of God’s gifts and graces. He loved God above everything and served Him with a willing heart. Moreover he loved his people and was full of zeal for their good. He therefore prayed to God to give him the gift of wisdom to enable him to govern his people well and provide for their spiritual and temporal welfare.

His humility was most pleasing to God. He showed it by his words: “Thou hast made Thy servant king, who am but a child.” In him were fulfilled the words: “To the meek God will give grace” (Prov. 3:34).

Prayer for spiritual gifts. Solomon’s prayer was pleasing to God, because firstly he made it with a humble heart; and secondly because he did not pray for riches or long life, but for far higher gifts. This shows us that we must not pray only for temporal blessings, such as health or a good harvest or peace and so forth, but above all for higher and more precious gifts, such as the forgiveness of sins, virtue, and especially for the grace to do our duty in our own state of life. In the “Our Father”, the model-prayer taught us by our Lord, there are five petitions for spiritual gifts, and only two for temporal gifts, the fourth and the seventh, even these two being combined with spiritual petitions. Bear in mind our Lord’s exhortation and promise: “Seek ye, therefore, first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (New Test. XXI).

Envy. The woman who accidentally smothered her baby, was a bad woman with no conscience. She envied the happiness of the other woman whose child was living, and would have liked the innocent baby to be killed in order that the other woman might be childless as well as herself. This shows what a cruel and hateful sin envy is.

Lies. The envious woman told the most barefaced lies in order to gain possession of the living child.

Mortal sin. The envious woman lied about a serious matter; for her object was to rob a mother of her child; and therefore her lie was a mortal sin. She sinned not only against the eighth Commandment, but also against the tenth and fifth Commandments; for in the first place she coveted the child which was its mother’s dearest earthly possession, and then desired its death. All these sins proceeded from the hateful sin of envy.

The gift of wisdom. The first and highest of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the crown of all the others, is the gift of wisdom. God gave Solomon this gift in an extraordinary measure. Not only did he possess a knowledge of divine things, but he was versed in all human sciences, knowing the secrets of nature, the course of the stars, and the properties of beasts, plants &c. Moreover, he was gifted with the art of government; and the renown of his wisdom spread far and wide, as you will see in chapter LX.

APPLICATION. Do you pray mostly for spiritual or temporal gifts? In future pray more diligently for God’s grace and especially for the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. Pray also for the gift of the virtue most opposed to your besetting sin.








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