In the other Old Testament passage, Jacob is starting his seven years of labor for the hand in marriage of Laban’s younger daughter Rachel. What Jacob does not realize is that Laban is as wily as Jacob himself, and intends to marry of BOTH daughters to Jacob. But we turn away from Jacob to consider another Old Testament figure, Solomon. Solomon is also looking towards a life change by becoming king in his father David’s place.
“At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”
And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, 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 today. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” (I Kings 3:5 – 9)
I skimmed over the portion of I Kings that came before this section, and it seems that Solomon was not the “little child” that his petition to the Lord God indicates. He took actions that a grown man would take. The biblical commentators say that he [meaning Solomon] meant that he was inexperienced in governing men. But again, Solomon in chapters one and two showed a firm hand in dealing with the people in his father’s court. I wonder if he [meaning Solomon] felt he had made a misstep in how he dealt with those who tried to take advantage of the transition of power.
It seems to me that Jacob and Solomon are different men; Solomon is unsure and wary in his circumstances. But Jacob seems confident that he will succeed in his enterprise to win Rachel as his bride. If you read Genesis 29:15 – 28 you will read that Jacob actually had to wait twice as long as he thought to wed Rachel. The comfort is that he felt the time of waiting was worth it.
“It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.” (Verses 10 – 12)
I also contrast in my pondering Jacob’s dream at Bethel with Solomon’s dream at Gibeon. There also Jacob was sure that his dream was a portent of his good future. Solomon was hesitant that he was ready for kingship.
How do you come to know, beloved reader, what you should do? Where & when you should surge forward, and when & where you should hold back and bide your time? The easy answer is to seek out the Holy Presence. But even then, how do you understand and discern that divine message? It is a puzzlement. I hope and pray, beloved reader, in the days ahead your path is clear and easy to see & travel. And may the Divine travel with you! Shalom & Selah!