4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” 6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. 7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 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. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
15 And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.
When they were younger, my wife and I spent many happy hours reading books to our children. One of our favorites was “A Tree for Peter” by Kate Seredy. It was first published in 1941, so it is not a new book, but I see it is still in print. Set in the Great Depression it imagines a little boy living in a shantytown. His mother must work, so he is left alone most of the day. Befriended by a hobo-like character, they eventually come to see a miracle take place. I won’t spoil too much more of it for you, but I will tell you that the hobo-like character is far more than another out-of-work itinerant. He is Jesus.
In this reading Solomon is at Gibeon which is strange. Gibeon was a high place and the worship there was often to the gods of the Canaanites, forbidden to the people of God. Several kings are criticized for not tearing these places down. What is Solomon doing there? At the end of this passage, Solomon does seem to have wised up a little bit, he speaks his prayers to the Lord in front of the Ark of the Covenant. But the question remains, what is Solomon doing there?
But even stranger than finding Solomon at Gibeon is that God is there. This is a site dedicated to the pagan worship of Baal and Asherah? God had commanded Joshua to exterminate these people – so offensive was the cult of Baal and Asherah. What is God doing at Gibeon? If he is there, shouldn’t he be smiting Solomon or something? Instead, we see him blessing this young king and giving him wisdom beyond all others. Christmas has shown us Jesus in a manger and stable. But Jesus is not One to be constrained. He will surprise you, showing up in the strangest places – smiling through the toothless grins in homeless shelters, among the pagans, and others. He is not bound by our expectations or denominational demands for purity. He might even be cheerfully working in the non-denominational church down the street. Solomon asked for wisdom and discernment. God give us wisdom to see You where You are and not only where we want You to be.