After Solomon became king of Israel, God invited him to ask for a blessing (1 Kings 3:5, 2 Chronicles 1:7). Solomon could have requested so many things, including longevity, increased wealth, victory in battle, or a good reputation among leaders of other nations. But he didn’t request any of these. He framed his simple request in terms of his own humble desire to excel in his new role:
O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king…and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?1 Kings 3:7-9, italics added; see also 2 Chronicles 1:10
The author of 1 Kings tells us, “This saying pleased the Lord” (1 Kings 3:10).
What is an understanding heart?
We get some insight from the following proverb, which is attributed to Solomon: “See that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding” (Proverbs 2:2). Wisdom doesn’t just accrue as we experience life. It comes when we actively engage our hearts in the process of improving our perception and refining our decision-making strategies.
Abinadi may have been referencing this same proverb when he rebuked the priests of King Noah: “Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise” (Mosiah 12:27). These priests had failed to internalize the principles in the scriptures which they quoted, because they were unwilling to do the hard work of opening their hearts and minds to those truths.
Wisdom is a gift from God, but we must choose to receive it.
Today, I will seek for an understanding heart. I will ask God to help me as I strive to improve my perception and to make wise decisions.