Pentecost +11 – Year B
1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14
Leaving out verses 2:11-3:2 dramatically changes the nature of this passage. What we miss is all the very practical political consolidation work Solomon did upon becoming King in Israel. Do read these details because the question coming to Solomon about what he desires takes on a different tone than if we just read the high-minded request for wisdom without this important context.
It is evident from the elided material that Solomon is a very accomplished accumulator of power and that takes a kind of wisdom, a conniving. Solomon knows very well how to "go out or come in", to move around the political realities of his time.
Without the historical references, "wisdom" is some ethereal, spiritual, state unconnected to the real world. With them, we see how Solomon plays G*D for a sucker in the same way he does his rivals. There is nothing like sucking-up to G*D or Jesus or Spirit or Nation or Boss or Family or my bad habits to get them off my case.
It won't be long, however, before even sagacious old Solomon comes up against death and G*D and dissolution of power. So read this pericope with a big grain of salt. If you read it as currently cut and pasted, there is real danger that one's preaching will be superficial and one's listeners lied to.