Highlights for 1 Kings 3
Why does the Lord look upon the heart?
As a gospel doctrine teacher, about four years ago, King Solomon’s story piqued my interest. His prayer to the Lord zapped my soul with tremendous impact.
At the time, I was struggling with some rather difficult people and a series of trying episodes. My multiple, pleading prayers included:
- my knowing what clever thing to say
- about softening their hearts
- about teaching them some rather deserved lessons
- about rescuing me
- about changing the circumstances
Yet the relief didn’t come and I was still baffled.
Perhaps, some of my prayer sounds familiar?
As a new king, Solomon is overwhelmed with his recent, gigantic role and with stepping into the shoes of his administrator father, King David.
KJV Bible – 1 Kings 3:7-8
7 And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
8 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. (1 Kings 3:7-8)
Joseph Smith Translation – 1 Kings 3:7-8
Joseph sheds some additional light on Solomon’s worries.
strikethrough = words Joseph Smith deleted (sometimes what Joseph crossed out can be just as much information as what he added)
bold type = words Joseph Smith added
7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king, instead of David, my father, over thy people.
I am but a little child I know not how to lead them, to go out, or come in before them, and I, thy servant, is am as a little child, in the midst of thy people which whom thou has chosen, a great people that cannot be numbered, nor counted for the multitude.
Interestingly, Robert Alter (The Hebrew Bible) echos the prophet Joseph Smith. He also offers some additional insight.
The Hebrew Bible – 1 Kings 3:7
7 And now, O Lord my God, You Yourself made Your servant king in place of my father when I was a young lad, not knowing how to lead into the fray.
8 And Your servant was in the midst of Your people that You chose, a multitudinous people that could not be numbered and could not be counted for all its multitude.
Robert Alter: 7. not knowing how to lead into the fray. The account of Solomon’s reign does not represent him as a military leader combating surrounding nations, but in assuming the throne he does have dangerous enemies in the court who could have contested the succession.
In the most touching, tender moment of greatest humility Solomon says, “I am but a little child and I have no idea what I am doing. I need a more understanding heart and smarts to be able to do this job.”
Solomon was surrounded by difficult people and complex circumstances in his own court as well as the whole nation.
A Larger Heart and Greater Understanding
The Lord appears to Solomon after his prayer and tells him – ask me for whatever you want.
Solomon asks for greater understanding and wisdom.
And the Lord responds, “because you didn’t ask for long life, for health, for riches or revenge of your enemies but asked for simply understanding, I will give you largeness of heart (1 Kings 4:29) and the most understanding of anyone plus all those things you could have asked for and didn’t. (1 Kings 3:7-13).
Remember my earlier prayer? Solomon’s request sank into my innermost awareness…I had been praying for the wrong things! They were naturally good solutions, so I thought. But King Solomon also had tremendous enemies and plenty of difficult people around him. From that moment on – I began to pray for a larger heart and greater understanding. “Help me to see what I need to see.”
Miraculously, the blessings of how to increase my inner strength, my people smarts, and maintain a better mindset came like a flood. Wonderful opportunities for learning, wayfinding, and know-how were given to me.
The solution was to grow my heart and my understanding…not change my outward circumstances or change anyone else. The outcome of my problem dramatically improved, not because of them, but because I applied a larger heart and greater understanding of people.
A Striking Parallel
So here is Abinidi. King Noah and his high priests want to kill Abinidi but don’t dare touch him because he is glowing with the fire and power of God. After numbering all the atrocious deeds the king and his men were both doing and teaching the people and the havoc it caused, Abinidi sums it all up and names the core problem:
“Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore ye have not been wise…” (Mosiah 12:27)
Repeatedly, the scriptures teach us the Lord looks upon the heart first and foremost and it is the condition and size of our heart that holds the key to many blessings.
A larger heart and greater understanding was my solution then; I am once again reminded – it is my solution now.
This post draws on two resources – (1) Joseph Smith’s complete translation of the Bible – amazingly, Joseph Smith corrected translations for more than 3,900 verses from the KJV Bible. And (2) Robert Alter’s “The Hebrew Bible – A Translation with Commentary.” Robert Alter’s book is considered one of the best translations of the Bible in our modern time and came highly recommended by bookofmormoncentral.org – a premiere Latter-day Saint scholarship site. Robert Alter’s lifetime work was published in 2018. See My Secrets for Falling In Love with the Old Testament for more information about these two books and where to get them.