Solomon was distinguished from all other kings in the Old Testament by God’s gifts to him. The first gift was that God appeared to Solomon and told him to ask for a gift. Not many kings in Israel were honored by God in this way!
Solomon responded to God so beautifully! He asked for a gift all right, but not a worldly gift. He did not ask God for riches or long life. Instead, he asked God for wisdom to govern God’s people well.
And so Solomon received God’s first gift, which was the opportunity to ask God for something, in such a way that his asking made him worthy of the next gift.
Because Solomon pleased God by what he asked of God, he gave Solomon the wisdom asked for. And with that wisdom God gave him even more gifts, the gifts Solomon had not asked for, worthy of kings. In the text that continues the First Reading, God promised Solomon the very worldly things Solomon hadn’t asked for—namely, riches and long life—in addition to the wisdom he wanted.
So Solomon was very great among the kings of the ancient Israel.
And yet what Christ gives to each one of his own people is greater than the gifts God gave Solomon. To each person who opens to Christ, Christ gives the indwelling Holy Spirit.
And with the Holy Spirit, he gives the seven gifts of the Spirit, too. The wisdom Solomon asked for is only the first of these. There are six more: understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord. There is an inestimable spiritual richness in these gifts, more than Solomon knew to ask for.
Furthermore, anyone who has these gifts has not just long life, like Solomon, but everlasting life, with the Lord. And even among the sorrows of this life, the consolations of the indwelling Spirit are present too in the love, joy, and peace that are among the fruits of the Spirit that God gives in addition to the gifts.
And so Christ offers now to each one who will accept it from him something greater than the greatness of Solomon, not just wisdom but all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, and with them unending life in the kingdom of heaven.
As Christ says in the Gospel reading, this is treasure indeed.
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
**From Saint Louis University