First Draft Essay #1

Solomon was a better person than me.

I don’t think it necessarily had anything to do with upbringing, though. Sure, he was raised in a palace by a king and one of his wives. But that would have it’s very own set of drawbacks. I mean, he probably never saw his parents in his childhood. Dad off at war with enemies of his state. Mom chatting it up with the concubines and straightening up the palace. The whole bit.

Granted, I was raised by a school teacher and a steel worker in a cozy house in the suburbs. That has it’s very own set of drawbacks. I mean, I had my parent’s undivided attention from 1966 to 1971. Dad off making sure the sheet metal did whatever it was that sheet metal is supposed to do. Mom chatting on the phone and watching soap operas. The whole bit.

But Solomon was a better person than me.

See, he had that moment in real life that we use as a hypothetical situation: He got one wish granted to him.

Sure, we watch Disney’s Aladdin with our kids and then over dinner imitate Robin Williams’ genie and ask our spouse what they’d do with three wishes. Then our spouse deflects the question at first by commenting on how lousy you are at imitating Robin Williams’ as the Genie of the Lamp, but eventually plays along. Over the clean-up, she wants you to play along.

So I do.

My list varies from time to time, but thematically, there are consistencies. Some type of recognition is involved, for example. Either professionally or personally…in the form of fame–or at least minor celebrity even if it’s within the realm of my tiny profession.

Then there’s some form of security involved. Making sure that I don’t have material wants distracting me from whatever else it is that I want to be doing. You know…like enough cash in the bank to make sure that my wife and kids are provided for or maybe enough for me to rearrange my time & priorities so that I can focus on stuff that seems more important to me. But cash seems to be a priority when it comes to defining “secure.”

Finally, there’s some lumping together of toys to try to skirt the “three wishes” addendum of “no asking for more wishes.” I can usually work in a High-Def TV, several vacation retreat centers and any number of vehicles into a gift package that resembles the Showcase Showdown on “The Price is Right.” Then I can (since I’m using ’70’s TV show references) go all Perry Mason and legally defend all those gifts as “one wish.” I mean, on TPIR, they get the entire prize, which consists of lavish vacations and…


But I digress.

My point is that it rarely–if ever–hits my brain to ask for anything that doesn’t reek of selfishness. Well, at least has some thread of selfishness in it. Or for world peace. Or anything else of noble origin. Nope. The Genie wouldn’t even have to add caveats if he were making me the offer in the Cave of Wonders.

But, that’s what Solomon did.

If you take a look at 1 Kings 3 you get the story in full. The gist of it is that God appeared to Solomon in a dream. God asked him–well, commanded him actually, “Tell me what I should give you.” Now, this amazes me on about 100 levels. My dreams usually involve a mash-up of freaks & geeks & situations. I can’t think of a time when any of these freaks & geeks offered to give me anything in a dream. And it’s safe to say that not once–never ever–has the King of Kings and Lord of Lords ever shown up. Maybe I shouldn’t eat pizza before bedtime and I’d have a better class of dream.

So, here’s Solomon. A child of privilege. A bookish, engineering sort of guy. His dad was a warrior who wanted to build God a Temple. David was told by God that his son would build it and that he should raise the funds to get it done. God tends to put people in their areas of strength and lets them do what they do best. Warriors don’t build, they do what warriors do and keep the spoils. Bookish, engineering types design and build and spend the spoils. That thing where God puts people in areas of strength and then lets them do what they do best was true then. It’s true now.

And now King Solomon has the King of Kings and Lord of Lords show up in his dream commanding him to tell Him what he wants. Some guys have all the luck.

This is why Solomon is better than me: He’s having an encounter with the Living God–even if it’s in a dream–and he starts his answer with a review of God’s faithfulness to his father. He brings up His faithfulness to him. He brings up the reality that the only reason he’s on the throne is because God put him there…and, oh, by the way, as an aside he mentions his youth & inexperience, too. Simply put, he knew that a king can’t do the king thing all alone.

This is another reason why Solomon is a better person than me: He can get whatever he wants and chooses, as the Hebrew reads, “a hearing heart.” Some Bible versions translate that to mean “wisdom.” Or “a discerning mind.” His rationale was that he’d need some help leading God’s people. He didn’t even ask it for himself. My guess is that he understood His universe and his place in it. The world would be a better place if we all “got” the universe and our place in it.

The request made God happy. Solomon’s request had been approved…and because of his humility, God also gave him riches and honor and freely offered to make him the greatest king of his generation. Oh, yeah. He would also be known as the wisest man who ever lived. My guess is that the request made God super-happy. Not just ordinary happy.

The wisest man who ever lived–and he was a real person and these things really happened, just like George Washington was real and that stuff really happened (well, the cherry tree and silver dollar at the Potomac remind us that the myth grew, but at the end of the day the history books got a lot more than the gist of it)–

…wrote a book.

One that tells us how to live life.

And since I’m not the wisest man who ever lived, or the greatest king of my generation or have riches and honor, well, Solomon’s a better person than me.

I should learn from him.