I have pondered the meaning of the gospel reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Times. It is the beautiful story of God appearing to Solomon in a dream.
Prior to this passage, there was deception afoot. King David is close to dying and Adonijah, son of Haggith, declared himself king. The prophet Nathan aligned himself with Bathsheba, mother of Solomon and wife of King David. He directed her to speak with King David and claim the throne as was promised by her spouse. King David remembers his promise and declares Solomon king.
Solomon is a young man and has just had kingship thrust upon him. One can only imagine the thoughts that ran through his mind. God does not abandon Solomon to his fear, but appears to Solomon in a dream. God poses the question to Solomon, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
Solomon explains to God that he is not prepared; he’s too young and does not know how to run a kingdom of such vast size. Amazingly, Solomon asks God not for wealth or personal gain. Instead, Solomon asks for an “understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
Putting myself in Solomon’s place, I think: what would I ask from God?
My list is so long, that it shames me in the face of the simplicity of Solomon’s request.
This is a powerful message. It reminds me that God is already providing for me. Instead of focusing on what I could possibly want, Solomon reminds me to ask God not for material possessions, wealth or success, but to live my life in such a way that honors him and his kingdom on earth.
Associate Patricia Herrick