This post is written by Jeremy Writebol and is published as a companion to Unit 12, Session 1 of The Gospel Project for Adults Vol. 4 (Summer 2022): From Unity to Division.
“Ask. What should I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5)
It’s one thing for a friend or family member to toss that question out to us. We could be talking about our Christmas wish list, or what we want for dinner. Our expectations aren’t too high. Yet, when God asks that question to a mere mortal, the expectations and opportunities become infinite. “What do you want? Ask for it! What should I give you?”
God’s question to Solomon at the beginning of his reign is a question that I believe every one of us would love for God to ask us. How amazing would it be for God to show up in our dreams one night and offer a blank check to infinite possibilities. What would you ask for?
Asking for What Truly Satisfies
While there is a myriad of possibilities we could ask for: wealth, fame, power, security, physical health, and luxury, each of these things would never fully gratify our insatiable desires. We know having all the money and fame in the world could never fully satisfy. We see billionaires not satisfied with their wealth; they tend to always want more. Those in power, too, are not satisfie—they will do almost anything to expand their borders, stay in power, and maintain their regime. Having these things are never enough. Yet the things of this world will eventually evaporate and fade away. We can’t take it with us when we die.
Solomon’s answer to God’s invitation is startling to me. He’s a king and instead of asking for the things of this world that mark out success and glory in an earthly kingdom, he asked for the intangible things of the mind: discernment, knowledge, wisdom. If you feel let down by Solomon’s request, don’t worry, we’re meant to feel a little disappointed if we’re focused on this earthly kingdom, if we think he’s not taking full advantage of what is being offered to him. One request, one ask, and we might think he threw it away on a “receptive heart” (1 Kings 3:9).
What’s Needed Most
Yet Solomon was aware that the one thing he needed most at this moment, at the beginning of his reign as king of Israel, was the capacity to discern between good and evil. This is so his kingdom would experience peace, equity, justice, and prosperity for all. His possession of discernment, wisdom, and insight to serve was essential for a good king, and he knew that. In that regard, Solomon asked God to supply what he needed more of. Fortunately, this need was in the front of his mind and he chose wisely when God asked.
What if God offered us the same opportunity today? “Ask. What should I give you?” What would you identify as your greatest need? What would be the deepest plea and burden of your heart and soul? What would you ask God for?
If we are centered on God’s kingdom and not this earthly one, there are a few answers we could give back to God. We might ask for forgiveness. We might ask for reconciliation with God and our fellow human beings. We might ask for peace. Wisdom. Love. Security. Acceptance. Community.
Our Needs Met in Christ
As much as I think about Solomon’s opportunity with God, I also see such good news for us in the same invitation God makes to us in Christ. You see, we are openly invited to ask God to answer the deepest needs of our heart and soul and He will do it. Jesus told His disciples, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13–14).
No, this isn’t an invitation to ask for the latest tech device or newest car or wealth and power beyond our imaginations. This is God’s grace for us to ask for the deepest needs of our soul that only He can provide. This invitation comes with a great reality behind it: God has already answered “yes” to many of those requests in Christ.
In sending Jesus to live the perfect life that we could not, to die in our place for our sins, and to be raised to life again on the third day, God has provided and given us the very deepest needs of our hearts. In Christ our forgiveness is secured. In Jesus we are reconciled to God. In Christ we have peace with Him and with one another. In Christ we are loved. Christ is our wisdom. Christ is our hope. Christ is our life! The invitation stands for us to go to God with our deepest needs, ask for Him to meet them, and then look to Christ as the one who gives, provides, and secures those deepest desires of our hearts. God says “ask!” We thus can be certain that God answers those requests through the life and work of Christ Jesus, His Son!
Jeremy Writebol is the Lead Campus Pastor at Woodside Bible Church in Plymouth, Michigan. He is also the Executive Director of Gospel-Centered Discipleship (GCD). He has served in pastoral ministry full- time for over twenty years and is the author of several books. He is married to Stephanie and is the father of Allison and Ethan.