Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1Kings 3:7-9
According to Strong’s Dictionary: Discernment (H995): To discern, understand, consider
to perceive, discern
to understand, know (with the mind)
to observe, mark, give heed to, distinguish, consider
When Solomon became the king of Israel, he asked God to give him discernment to distinguish between good and evil. The primary reason he asked for discernment was to act justly and to rule over the people well. Solomon did not ask for discernment to determine who is his enemy, neither did he ask for it to protect himself from those who were going to lie to him or cheat on him. Solomon considered the Israelites great people because they belonged to God, and he sought to lead God’s people in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
Similarly, we should desire discernment so we can treat people in the manner that is pleasing to the Lord. We should care about acting justly and handling each situation with patience and understanding. If we want to avoid being rash and impulsive in handling various situations, we need God’s discernment and clarity.
Many times when we react to a situation , we attempt to excuse it by claiming our reaction is based on our past experiences and pain. Something hits a nerve and takes us in a wrong direction emotionally. The truth is that if we want to be discerning people, we can’t allow the past experiences to taint the current situation and cause us not to see it clearly.
Solomon knew that he was representing the Lord in the eyes of people, and he did not take that role lightly. We also represent the Lord in the lives of people. We should desire to be skilled at discerning situations justly and appropriately.
Furthermore, someone who has discernment seeks to see the good and evil. Discernment is not just about seeing the bad, but it is about being open to seeing things for what they are not what we wish them to be. Also to be discerning of the good and evil needs to be through God’s definition not be based on our own ideas and preferences.
If we don’t have God’s definition of good and evil, we cannot exercise justice. To act justly, we need to know what God calls good and evil. We live in age where many people want to define their own ideas of good and evil. We need to be guarded not to take on the world’s definition of good and evil. Otherwise, we can get polluted and our approach to various situations is not going to necessarily be Biblical nor pleasing to God.
God was pleased with Solomon for what he asked for, and He blessed him with much wisdom and discernment. Similarly, God is pleased when we desire to have true discernment not for survival benefits but the benefit of others, so we can act justly and with proper understanding.