The Old Testament Book of Kings testifies that the wisdom of King Solomon, the son of David, was so renowned he was acclaimed as the wisest of kings by the great rulers of his age and that the world beat a path to his palace door to seek his counsel.
Today’s scripture, an excerpt from the Book of Kings, indicates that King Solomon’s wisdom was not merely a natural gift, but a supernatural grace- a divine gift bestowed in answer to the king’s prayer.
As such, this particular text can be understood by the Church’s faithful as a lesson in regards to our prayers of petition- that our prayers of petition should be accompanied by discernment. What is it precisely that I ask the Lord to do? Am I asking for a good that transcends self-interest? Does my prayer of petition open myself to the receptivity that is willing to accept what the Lord want’s to give?
The Lord Jesus insists that we turn to the Lord in our needs and deliver to him our requests, but he also insists that prayer culminates in our willingness to accept what God wants for us, even if what God seems to desire for us exceeds our ability to fully understand. “Your will be done”. “Be it done to me according to your word”. These challenging statements of resolute faith in God, all made in the face of the difficult and unexpected, are precisely where all petitionary prayer is fulfilled.
Solomon’s greatest wisdom was manifest in his willingness to ask for and accept a good higher than worldly attainments or preoccupations.
However, as the story of King Solomon continues, we will discover that even the wisest of earthly kings will falter. Worldliness will overtake Solomon and his wisdom will fail. Higher than wisdom is fidelity to God, and when our faithfulness to God is compromised, all gifts, natural or supernatural, are threatened. Wisdom is a great gift, but greater still is the gift of faith, and it to ask the Lord for faith that endures is to ask for a good higher than wisdom and to ask for the gift of faith in God and for fidelity to his commandments is wisdom’s truest and most perfect expression.
Christ’s lament in his Gospel that the Israelites languish like sheep without shepherds is an evocation of Old Testament prophecy, particularly the spiritual vision of the prophet Ezekiel, who foresaw that the Lord would reveal himself to the Israelites as their “shepherd” and by this is meant that after the ruinous failures of so many kings, prophets and priests, the Lord God would come himself and be the guardian and guide of the Israelites.
Christ is the Lord is God, who reveals himself as the shepherd of his people. He is our guardian and our guide. The kings and priests and prophets of this world may fail us and falter in their mission, but Christ the Lord our Shepherd never will. Through the dark and shadows he leads us, on our part we must be willing to follow him and allow him to take us where he needs us to go.
As we are Christians, it is our hope that whatever path we must travel in this life, whatever way the Lord insists that we go, he has gone that way before us, he is with us all along the way, and in the end of our life’s journey, he is there to welcome us into his heavenly home.