“Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” (1 Kings 3:9 NAB)
It Struck me the other day when this reading came up in church that I had been missing the real message here. In all the years I’ve heard some reference or other to Solomon’s unparalleled wisdom, it never occurred to me that wasn’t precisely what he was asking for. He was asking God to give him an understanding heart.
So wanting to delve deeper, I Googled the definition of “understanding” when used as an adjective and this is what I got: “sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving.” That’s somewhat different than being wise, don’t you think? Oh, I’m not putting down wisdom, don’t get me wrong. It’s something we should all seek to acquire as we experience whatever life throws our way. We certainly look for it (sometimes with the aid of a magnifying glass) in our leaders and those who counsel us. And we should.
But how different–and better–would our world be if we tried to understand how another person feels? And why. The why is really important, if we are going to understand that person; be tolerant (or better yet, accepting); and when necessary, forgiving. And the greater the difference between ourselves and others, the greater the challenge this becomes. And the more crucial the ability to succeed.
We are all much more similar on the inside that we are different on the outside. We all have insecurities, doubts, dreams, trials, weaknesses, and strengths. We all need affirmation, support, love, and forgiveness.
Sometime…somehow…someplace, it all comes full circle. What we send forward–what we put out there–always comes back. When we understand that, we will be truly wise.