The gift of a wise and discerning heart


1Kings 3:12: behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.

The bible has a lot to say about two sets of people: the foolish and the wise. It says that the fools say in his heart: there is no God (Psalm 14:1); in another place we read that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). It’s therefore conclusive that the wise and the fool are defined by their relationship, or lack of it, with the Lord.

Paul expands on that saying that Jesus stands for both the wisdom and the power of God. He is the epitome of all that is in God, as their true source (1Corinthians 1:24).

God had asked Solomon to ask him anything he wanted. And in the focus verse, God was answering Solomon’s prayer for a wise heart, so that he could be a good leader, serving the people as he should (1Kings 3:5-14). God thought that was a good motivation and he decided to give Solomon what he wanted plus many other things.

In a similar way, Elijah told Elisha to ask for what he wants him to do for him, before he was taken up to heaven in chariots of fire. The answer: the double portion of your spirit (2Kings 2:9). He asked a spiritual and not a physical thing.

That attitude of being motivated by something higher was not found in Esau, Jacob’s brother (Genesis 25:29-34).  He came in from the field on a certain day and found his brother Jacob cooking something, and being very hungry, he asked to be given some of it to eat. But Jacob said he wants his birthright in exchange for it. Esau gave over the intangible birthright to Jacob, for the tangible, perishable plate of meal. Esau’s life was all about what is seen, in physical value and not in spiritual value. The bible called him profane man, driven merely by animal instinct (Hebrews 12:16).

But Solomon recognised that who you in inner quality are is more important that what you have in outer quantity, so he didn’t ask for things, he asked to be a different kind of person; he asked to be endowed with the heart of wisdom and full of discernment. God commended him, saying a lesser man would have asked for riches, for victory of his enemy and long life. As far as God was concerned Solomon’s value system was right, he has his priority right.

That is one of the missions of Jesus, to make our value system right. He said we should seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things will be added to us (Matthew 6:31-33); we should seek spiritual value and physical value will be added to us. That is the way of God.

When Jesus sent his disciples out to various villages to minister to them, and they returned with numerous reports involving casting out of devils and healing the sick (Luke 10:20), Jesus said they should rather than be happy because of those things, be happy that your names are written in the book of life. They were to prize the unseen more than what is seen, even they are miracles.

Demas, formerly part of the ministry team of Paul, was a negative example of this (Philemon 1:23-24, 2Timothy 4:10). Paul wrote that Demas departed from him because he loved this present world. He was after earthly reward rather than heavenly reward, physical gain and not spiritual gain, living for himself and not for God.

The heart is our core, and the bible says we should guard our hearts with all diligence because out of it flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23), i.e. our lives are directed from our hearts. The heart is your inner working principle, when it comes to loving God, it should be with all our heart (Matthew 22:37). That means the heart is indicative of our devotion. Having the right heart is vital for a walk with God.

The heart according to the book of Hebrews has two components, the thoughts and intent (Hebrews 4:12), which corresponds to the two characteristics of the heart which God gave Solomon: wisdom and discernment.

Wise heart (thoughts of the heart)

The wise knows things, knows how to apply knowledge to situations to get the best result. There can be no wisdom without knowledge. That was why it is naturally expected that having white hair (if age-related) should mean being wise, because had accumulated knowledge over a long period of time. But that is not always the case.

Elihu, after listening to the three friends of Job give him miserable comfort (Job 32), said that he was silent because he thought since they were older they will know more than him, but that turned out not so. He discovered that length of years does not automatically equate wisdom, hence accumulation of knowledge does not equate wisdom; it is the right kind of knowledge.

However, to be described as a child in the bible means you don’t know much of the right things. Paul described the Christians in the Corinthian church as carnal, babes, saying that he cannot avail them of the finer points of the wisdom of God, because they cannot handle it (1Corinthians 2:6, 3:1-9), with their low base of right knowledge, and wrong focus.

The writer of the book of Hebrews says that he expects that because the people had been Christians for long, they should be matured by now (Hebrews 5:11-14). He was disappointed that was not the case. He said when they should teachers of the word; they still needed revision in the elementary principles of Christ. Paul said that we should not be children in understanding. Right knowledge leads to right action which is wisdom.

Discerning heart (intent of the heart)

This discerning heart distinguishes the right from the wrong, it operating by the right motivation. When Paul said that we need to be renewed in the spirit of our mind (spirit is defined as unseen influence), it means he believes we need to have the influence on our minds changed for the better. When the spirit of the mind of Eve was derived from the serpent, the result was a wrong intent of the mind, a wrong motivation for action.

It is not just enough to pack the mind with information; everyone is at risk of ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth if we have the wrong spirit for our mind (2Timothy 3:7).

The Pharisees were like that, they could quote the scriptures more than most but that did not bring them closer to God (2Timothy 3:7, John 5:39-40). Rather, Jesus described them as whitewashed sepulchre, white on the outside but rotten on the inside (Matthew 23:25-28).

Jesus said regardless of how much of the bible they knew, because the devil is their father (John 8:44), they will always do his desire (intent of the heart), they will always have him as the spirit (whose desire is influencing their mind) of their mind and based on that, they killed Jesus, the Lord of life. There action was so wrong, though their minds were so full.

It is therefore not just about what you know but who you know and yield to. That is why in Christ we are at an advantage because we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13), of Jesus, where our understanding can be illuminated (thoughts) and lives guided aright (intent).


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