I recently reread the story of Solomon asking God for wisdom in 1 Kings 3. I’ve heard others mention the story many times and have read it myself before, but something new struck me this time: why Solomon asked for wisdom.

Beginning in verse 7, it says, “Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 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?”

I always assumed that Solomon asked for wisdom for wisdom’s sake, that he was so lofty that he didn’t care about anything in this world. I always pictured someone who aspired to sit in an ivory tower dispensing pearls of wisdom but never getting his hands dirty.

Reading this passage reveals that my picture couldn’t be further from the truth. Solomon cared deeply about the world & his role in it. He recognized the challenge he faced as a leader and knew that he didn’t know how to lead on his own.

Wisdom was an intensely practical request.

This story reminds me that “I don’t know” are some of the most powerful words I can utter. Recognizing my lack of knowledge brings me to a very important place: asking God for the wisdom to face the tasks ahead of me.

Such is a prayer that God loves to answer.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

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