by Andrea Sloma

So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?
1 KINGS 3:9, NIV

Oh, to be wise. Wise enough to know that “friend” was really just using me. Wise enough not to fall for that get-rich-quick scheme. To not let him convince me I couldn’t do better. To talk myself out of that impulsive hair cut . . . honey, bangs do not look good on you. More wisdom and discernment would have solved all of my life’s greatest mistakes, right?

Well. Maybe not.

Solomon asked the Lord for an understanding heart and discernment between good and evil, and his request pleased the Lord. Let me say that again. Solomon asking for wisdom PLEASED God. There is nothing wrong with asking for wisdom. In fact, James encourages it:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
JAMES 1:15, ESV

Solomon was given such great wisdom by God that he became the wisest man ever to live. This supernatural wisdom helped Solomon thrive as a king and rule with great justice. All of Israel heard of Solomon’s wisdom and knew it was from God. But even as the wisest man, Solomon still found himself making crucial mistakes that ultimately turned his heart away from the Lord and brought adversaries into his life. If Solomon had such great wisdom to know the difference between good and evil, shouldn’t he have known what would bring destruction into his life? Was simply having wisdom not enough?

After God granted Solomon’s request for wisdom, He asked for obedience in return (1 Kings 3:14). Solomon was to obey God’s commandments, which included no other gods or idols. Although Solomon loved the Lord, in the end he ultimately loved his idols and vices more.

When we’re conflicted between knowing what is right and actually doing it, we are ultimately having to make a decision about who or what we trust and love more. Do we trust in God’s future for us enough that we don’t need to side-step His commandments and try too achieve our desires on our own — which will likely bring more hardship?

Despite our access to wisdom, wisdom alone probably won’t keep us from getting that unfortunate haircut or making some choices we’ll later regret. However, being obedient to the Lord will keep us on the path that will protect us from turning our hearts away from Him.

Obedience brings joy and blessings to our lives. See what the psalmist wrote:

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!
PSALM 119:1–8, NLT

Yes, wisdom is good, but without obedience we can’t act wisely.

Let’s stay on the path of obedience, dear friend. God promises it’s the path of true joy and blessings.

Dear God, You are wise. Your plan for our life is good. You always choose the best path for our life. Lord, we desire wisdom. But we know that wisdom apart from obedience and trust in You is foolishness and death. Help us remember this. Let us not be tempted to fulfill our desires apart from obedience, but instead surrender to your perfect will for us. Thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit to help discern good from evil. We surrender our future to You, Lord. Keep our hearts from turning away from You. You are our first love. In your Holy name we pray, Jesus. Amen.

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