I remember taking Driver’s Ed. There came a time in the class where we took the instruction and put it into practice by driving around. When it was my turn to log some hours, he had me drive on the freeway for a while. There were times when he had to hit the brakes on his side of the car because I wouldn’t go slower than the speed of traffic. When I went to change lanes, the instructor asked me what I needed to check after I turned on my blinker. I replied, “My rear view and side mirror.” He then asked, “What else?” I shrugged. He told me I needed to look over my shoulder as well to check my blind spot. If I change lanes and hit a car, it’s my fault because I should have checked my blind spots. I’ve never forgotten those instructions.
We all have blind spots in our lives, and we all need instruction and correction too, but not all of us invite it into our lives. In Exodus 18, Moses’ father in law had heard all of the great things Moses had done for his people, so he went to meet him. The next day he saw Moses judging the people and how inefficient it was. After asking a few questions about it, he said, “Moses’ father-in-law said to him in Exodus 18:17-18, “The thing that you are doing is not good. You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you [to bear]; you cannot do it alone” (AMP). He gave Moses a better way to do it. Instead of responding, “I’m in charge here and don’t need your help,” Moses listened to the counsel, received the instructions and accepted the correction. How do you respond when someone does that to you?
Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.” Counsel is an outside perspective that helps guide us so we don’t hit things, or people, in our blind spots. Instruction is someone else telling us how do something we often think we know how to do. Correction is being told we’re in the wrong. All three are often hard to receive because of our pride. If we’re willing to put aside our pride, and invite these three things into our life with an open heart and mind, we will achieve far more than we ever could without it. We will also have better relationships with the people around us because we won’t be bumping into them in our blind spots as much. The key is for us to invite it into our lives or to accept it when someone else, including an in law, is offering it.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been taught that Solomon asked God for wisdom. I tried looking up the scripture where he asked God for “wisdom”, but the Bible doesn’t put it that way. In I Kings 3:9, Solomon asked God for an understanding heart so he could judge the people well. In essence he was asking for wisdom, but as I dug deeper, he wanted more than just wisdom. He wanted to do well in God’s sight and to care for His people.
When I looked up the word “understanding” as it was used in this context, it had three meanings. The first was to hear. Solomon wanted a heart that could hear not only God, but what others were saying too. He didn’t want to just rely on what his ears heard, he wanted to really hear what people meant. Wisdom comes in not just hearing what is spoken. It comes when we can discern the true intent of the words spoken.
The next meaning of “understanding” was to listen. Almost everyone is born with the ability to hear, but only a few ever learn to listen. I believe that God is always speaking to us. We hear Him, but we don’t really listen to what it is that He’s telling us or showing us. Solomon was concerned about the ability of his heart to listen to God. He wanted God to know that he understood the only way to truly govern the people well would be if He could listen to His voice.
The third meaning of “understanding” in this context is to obey. It’s not enough to hear or listen to God. We have to obey what He tells us. I’m sure that Solomon had been told of Saul’s disobedience and of God’s response in I Samuel 15:22. Obedience is better than sacrifice. God is more concerned with our obedience to His word than in our obedience to religious rituals. Anyone can walk through the motions of a ritual, but only the wisest among us obey a God at all costs.
Wisdom was a by product of what he truly wanted. Hearing the voice of a God, listening to what He really said and acting on it from his heart is what made Solomon truly wise. You and I can experience that wisdom. Solomon’s request for an understanding heart is one that you and I can ask for today. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.” God would love it if each of us possessed the wisdom that comes from an understanding heart.