Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
To ask for discernment or (an understanding heart) showed that Solomon already had a degree of discernment to even know to ask for this. I wonder how many of us would have asked for this particular gift out of all the thousands of things we could choose to have given to us if we were given the chance to ask God for one thing.
1Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. 3:6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 3:7 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. 3:8 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. 3:9 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?
Godly discernment is the ability to see through a godly spiritual lens which gives us understanding of people, things, or situations with a high level of godly understanding.
Solomon had enough spiritual insight even at that young age to know exactly what to ask for because of his upbringing by the wise David who instructed him.
By giving Solomon a chance to ask, what he would have from God, God tested Solomon at the very beginning of his kingship to see what Solomon’s priorities were and what was truly in his heart. And when Solomon asked for understanding, it pleased the Lord.
God then listed some of the things that Solomon could have asked for but didn’t; things that most men might have desired above all else; but Solomon’s answer was a sign that his heart was fit and qualified for being the kind of king that would be a just ruler for God’s people. God then rewarded Solomon with all the things that he had not asked for; riches, honor, and long life. But God added the caveat that all these things would be his only if he would walk in all of God’s ways and keep all of His commandments.
1 Kings 3:10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
3:11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
3:12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
3:13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
3:14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
After this appearing of God in a dream, Solomon was tested in using his gift of discernment to rightly judge between two women who were mothers of two babies, one had died and one was living. They came for his judgment as to who should be given the living son that they both claimed as their own. Solomon perceived that the one who would want the child’s life spared, even if it meant losing him to the other woman, was the rightful mother so he tested them both by threatening to divide the child in half.
Kings 3:16 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
3:17 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
Solomon exercised discernment (an understanding heart) in this very difficult case and it gained him the reputation of being a king that would exercise wise judgment over the people; and he earned the people of Israel’s respect and admiration [fear] for him as their king.
1 Kings 3:28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.
Brethren, we have been given a very special calling to be future kings and priests over all the people of the earth under Christ some day, therefore today we are in training to use wisdom, discretion, understanding and discernment in this present life, in all of our affairs and in daily living.
In addition, all of us come up against extremely difficult situations from time to time that require the “wisdom of Solomon” to be able to choose the right course and make the right decision.
It is the WISDOM of God that we are to seek after, and that wisdom is to be found in every Word of God, and a good understanding of every Word of God is only given through God’s Holy Spirit to those who live by every Word of God.
Discernment and a good understanding of every Word of God is the most valuable thing that we can ask God for.
We all need godly discernment and wisdom to guide us through life and enable us to discern truth from error, and right from wrong. In this world there is so much darkness; and godly discernment lights up everything and keeps us on the right path to walk on.
Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 11:12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
What is the opposite of spiritual discernment? It is spiritual blindness; and that is the biggest problem in the Ekklesia today. We can go to Revelation 3 to find out what Jesus has to say about the predominate attitude and condition that would permeate the body of Christ in the end times.
To Laodicea Jesus identifies himself as the faithful and true witness of what they are truly like. They think themselves spiritually rich and have no idea what Jesus Christ really thinks of them. Jesus here tells them their problems straight out, but they are proud and willfully blind to reality.
Laodicea means the people will be judged and corrected.
Lao: the people:
Dike: judged [condemned by the law and punished]
Definition: diké: right (as self-evident), justice (the principle, a decision or its execution)
Original Word: d???, ??, ?
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (dee’-kay)
Short Definition: justice, judicial hearing, punishment
Definition: (a) (originally: custom, usage) right, justice, (b) process of law, judicial hearing, (c) execution of sentence, punishment, penalty, (d) justice, vengeance. Cognate: 1349 díke – properly, right, especially a judicial verdict which declares someone approved or disapproved; a judgment (just finding) that regards someone (something) as “guilty” or “innocent.” See 1343 (dikaiosyne).
[1349 (díke) is used in classical Greek for a legal decision – a recompense (based on justice). In the LXX, dike is used nine times to translate rî, the Hebrew term for “law-suit.”]
STRONGS NT 1349:
1. custom, usage, (cf. Schmidt, chapter 18, 4 cf. 3).
2. right, justice.
3. a suit at law.
4. a judicial hearing, judicial decision, especially a sentence of condemnation; so in Acts 25:15 (L T Tr WH ?atad????).
5. execution of the sentence, punishment, (Wis. 18:11; 2 Macc. 8:11): d???? ?p??e??, Jude 1:7; d???? (Sophocles El. 298; Aj. 113; Euripides, Or. 7), to suffer punishment, 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
6. the goddess Justice, avenging justice: Acts 28:4, as in Greek writings often from Hesiod theog. 902 on; (of the avenging justice of God, personified, Wis. 1:8, etc.; cf. Grimm at the passage and commentary on 4 Macc., p. 318, (he cites 4 Macc. 4:13, 21; 8:13, 21; 9:9; 11:3; 12:12; 18:22; Philo adv. Flacc. § 18; Eusebius, h. e. 2, 6, 8)).
suffer, weep, ache, lament, sorrow, bewail
Probably from deiknuo; right (as self-evident), i.e. Justice (the principle, a decision, or its execution) — judgment, punish, vengeance.
see GREEK deiknuo
Emphasizing that his message to Laodicea is true and is coming out of Christ’s faithful love for them in the hope that they might repent and be saved.
Jesus also calls himself the “beginning of the creation of God;” clearly meaning that Christ is the Creator who began the creation of all things. See Revelation 1:8. 1:11, 21:6, 22:13 I am the Alpha [Beginning]
Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Laodicea is spiritually lukewarm, professing godliness while keeping the commandments according to their own imaginations instead of keeping them the way that God commands.
They pay lip service to godliness without any zeal to learn and keep the Word of God. Their zeal is for their own ways and what they think, for their own past false traditions and their idols of men and not for what God says. They stand on their false past traditions and proudly think they know it all; refusing any spiritual growth they are stagnant or even falling backward in their spiritual condition.
They are hot for their own traditions, and for the teachings of their idols of men about the Word of God, and cold for zealously keeping the whole Word as God, as God has commanded them. This mixture of hot for their idols of men and corporate entities, and a cold, lack of zeal to keep the Word of God, makes them lukewarm and revolting to Christ.
They are idolaters of men and tradition; proud, thinking that they know it all spiritually and therefore refuse correction from God or man; they reject the Word of God for their own ways and they reject any growth in truth and refuse to turn from error.
This is a clear, obvious, indisputable and precise explanation of the overwhelming majority in the Ekklesia today!
Because these folks have rejected Christ to follow him above our idols of men they will be rejected by Christ into the correction of great tribulation, in the hope that through the correction of the flesh the spirit may be saved.
3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth [They will be rejected by Christ into severe correction] .
Proud and self willed, they think they are spiritually rich and know it all, having need of no spiritual growth, and they reject the increase in spiritual knowledge and understanding promised for the last days, Daniel 12.
They reject any part of scripture which they do not want to follow, saying it is for others; and they are so proud and arrogant they have no idea how spiritually wretched, miserable and poor they really are.
They are willfully blind to their own condition and to the things of God that disprove their own false ways; They lack the garments of righteousness and are naked of any righteousness before God their many sins exposed to Him; beginning with the sins of pride and self justification and self approval.
3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich [spiritually], and increased with goods [spiritual knowledge], and have need of nothing [no one not even Christ (the Word of God) can tell them anything]; and knowest not that thou art [spiritually] wretched, and miserable, and [spiritually] poor [knowing almost nothing of God as they ought to know it], and blind [willfully blind to their wretched spiritual state], and naked [naked of any true godly righteousness, not being zealous to keep the Word of God]:
Christ counsels those with the Laodicean attitude to buy spiritual gold in the fire of tribulation; that they may become spiritually rich.
They are bidden to sincerely repent of their prideful sins so that the nakedness of their wickedness may be covered by the application of the sacrifice of Christ; and so that they may receive God’s Holy Spirit and the white raiment of the righteousness of the zealous keeping of the whole Word of God.
They are commanded to anoint their eyes and open them to see themselves as God sees them, and to sincerely repent from their pride and false ways and to turn away from their idols of men and false traditions to follow the spirit of God into all truth; rejecting all error and sin to embrace godly truth that they might be saved.
3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me [spiritual] gold tried in the fire [during the period of your correction in the fire of tribulation], that thou mayest be [become spiritually rich] rich; and white raiment [the righteousness of zealously keeping the whole Word of God], that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness [that our sins might be covered by the righteousness of God] do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, [acquire the Holy Spirit through sincere repentance] that thou mayest see [open our eyes to see ourselves as God sees us, to see ourselves as we really are, so that we can repent and be saved].
Jesus reminds these folks that he rebukes them only because he truly loves them and is not willing that they should perish. They are rejected only because they first rejected Christ, refusing to keep the whole Word of God, refusing to follow Christ and refusing to live by every Word of God in Christ-like zeal.
Jesus Christ tells those of the Laodicean attitude; which is the overwhelming attitude throughout the Ekklesia today; to REPENT of their pride and self righteousness. and to REPENT of trusting in their idols of men and false traditions.
Jesus Christ tells us to turn to him; and turn to a zeal for the whole Word of God, to learn it and to keep it; to turn from our false idols and false traditions and to become zealous to remove error and embrace the truth of God!
3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Jesus is warning and calling each one of his straying sheep; He wants them to open up to him, to reject idols of men and false traditions and to follow him, to be zealous to remove sin and to embrace God’s righteous truth, to internalize the solid meat of the Word of God in fellowship with Christ and God the Father.
They have an open invitation from Jesus Christ who is gladly willing to accept them, if they would only open up their eyes and turn to Him!
3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup [eat; internalize the Word of God] with him, and he with me.
Only those who overcome this Laodicean attitude of pride and self-will will be resurrected to spirit. Those who sincerely repent of the sins of Laodicea will be in the resurrection to eternal life and will have a place in the eternal government of God.
3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
That is because pride is the chief cause of most of the various problems. Today all the major COG groups and most of the smaller ones are full of pride and idolatry, rejecting any biblical thing they do not agree with, claiming it applies only to others.
They think of themselves as the repository of all wisdom and truth, and refuse any zeal to keep the whole Word of God, in order to follow their corporate idols, idols of men and there own false traditions.
Offices of ecclesiastical authority exist as helps to keep us focused on God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Their authority comes from the Word of God and the truth that they teach, and once they depart from the Word of God they lose all moral authority!
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
We are to prove the words of ALL men, by the Word of Almighty God! We are NOT to interpret God’s Word by the words of men; but to prove the words of men by the Word of Almighty God!
Jesus told John to write that the Laodiceans would be wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. What does He then say is the remedy for this condition? It is to BUY gold tried in the fire that we might be “rich”; to BUY white raiment; and to ANOINT our eyes with EYE SALVE; that we might “see”.
The remedy for the Ekklesia’s condition in our day, too, is that we are to first buy gold tried in the fire: the precious truth of God and the spiritual things of God. For one that is poor and wretched how is that one to buy? The word buy is an awkward translation and should be “seek, to work for, make an effort to acquire”
The imagery of “buying” recalls the invitation in Isaiah 55:1-2 to buy (or labor for) “wine” and “milk” that are freely given to us by God if we seek them.
Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
55:2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Wine and milk are metaphors for the richness of God’s Word, things that satisfy our hunger and thirst; also wine and milk can be thought of as things that revive our spirit and nourish our body,
Other Scriptures that encourage us to buy the “gold” (valuable things) of God are in Proverbs 23 and Matthew 25.
Proverbs 23:23 Buy [diligently seek and acquire] the truth, and sell it not [hold on to the truth and do not let it slip away] ; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
25:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
25:9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
To BUY or to LABOR for the things of God: including wisdom, instruction, understanding, and God’s precious OIL which is figurative of God’s Holy Spirit; is what will truly make us RICH in the spiritual treasures of God and will put us on the path to eternal life and our inheritance with Christ. These are things that are more valuable than all the gold and money in the world and these spiritual gifts of God cannot be bought with any amount of gold or money.
The second thing we are to BUY is white raiment which means we are to seek to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ which is our living by every Word of God.
Revelation 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
Psalm 119:172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
The third thing we are to do is to anoint our eyes with salve which simply means; living by every Word of God with passionate zeal, so that God will send the gift of His Holy Spirit to open our eyes to spiritual things.
Proverbs 2:10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: 2:12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; 2:13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 2:14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; 2:15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:
Luke 6:39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
We are living in very evil times and much deception and spiritual blindness has also entered today’s Ekklesia which is why Jesus is addressing this message to the Ekklesia in Revelation 3.
We are to seek wisdom, understanding and discernment as if our lives depended on it for our spiritual state and even our eternal lives do depend on what we ask for most in life. Just like Solomon, we are to ask for an understanding heart and discernment “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?”
Brethren, if we use this lifetime to seek the GOLD tried in the fire, the WHITE RAIMENT which is the righteousness of Christ, and the anointing Oil of God’s Holy Spirit that heals us from our spiritual blindness (remaining faithful to the end), then God will give us riches and honor and long [eternal] life.
As far as “so great [many] a people”; someday God is going to raise up billions of people all in their own courses and He will need a trained, skillful team of compassionate rulers with understanding hearts [discernment], with godly wisdom to judge all things, and to be filled with the knowledge of God to teach godliness to the masses.
We need to be developing discernment now in the little things, so that we may learn to discern and judge in the greater things when it comes time to help and teach humanity the way to salvation and how to become members of the Family of God.
David was Solomon’s father but he was also his teacher and instructed him as a youth; this is what David taught him (which is also directed to all of God’s Ekklesia today) about the importance of seeking to have an understanding heart and the rewards it would bring.
Proverbs 4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
4:2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
4:3 For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
4:4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
4:6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
4:8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
4:9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
4:10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
4:11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
4:12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.
4:13 Take fast hold of [godly] instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
4:14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
4:15 Avoid it, pass not by it [do not approach near to evil], turn from it, and pass [run away from evil] away.
And here is the conclusion of the message given to the Laodiceans in Revelation 3, which is very encouraging to those who heed God’s warnings and REPENT:
Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear [DISCERN] what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2015, which I then completed for posting.