Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people
and to distinguish right from wrong. (1 Kings 3:9)
This is Solomon’s earnest prayer from today’s first reading (1 Kings 3: 5, 7-12). He, of course, is the son of King David and is celebrated in Judaism as one of the wisest – if not the wisest – king who ruled over the united Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the 10 century B.C.
Oh that all leaders of nations and peoples, business and society prayed these words with sincerity of heart! How our times need such leaders so that we may address the many issues that afflict so many in all the world. To ask God, who we believe is the source of all wisdom, for such a gift as King Solomon did, requires humility to recognize that no one has all the answers or ability to lead.
Saint Paul in his First Letter to Timothy famously calls upon his friend to pray “for kings and all in positions of authority.” It is for this reason that the Church tells us that in the Prayers of the Faithful, at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours, a petition is to be made for civil needs and those who govern. And yet, such a request as Solomon’s need not be limited to those who are leaders of government and the like. All who lead, even those who lead families, schools, parishes, et. al., need our prayers so that everyone who leads will have “an understanding heart” and be able “to distinguish right from wrong.”