Many Christians today wonder whether in these same circumstances, they would be able to do the same. For whom would they make request: themselves or God?
If we examine Solomon's life before the Lord asks him this question, we'll see a few signs that indicate why he was so ready to ask for wisdom in the first place. These will by no means provide an exhaustive list, but it would be a good start to make sure these principles are true in our own lives.
First, Solomon was already serving the Lord. He was going to great lengths to worship the Lord in the high places. Although it wasn't the best option, Solomon took advantage of the option available to him in relation to serving the Lord. In I Kings 3:3-5, we read,
"And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee."
You see, you shouldn't plan to serve God when the time comes. It's not as if a secret button can be pressed that brings you into God's presence and suddenly you want wisdom from the Lord in order to serve Him more effectively..
Rather, when the time comes, you will need to have already been serving the Lord, already have been developing your relationship with Him. Without that, you can't expect to have such a selfless desire as this.
Second, Solomon had humility. Here's a simple thought: if you don't know that you need help, you'll never ask for it. Before he asked for wisdom, Solomon understood that he couldn't handle the tasks before him on his own intellect. Thus, it comes as no surprise when he says in 1 Kings 3:9,
"Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?"
Who is able to judge this thy so great a people? Fantastic question, Solomon. In our own lives, the questions would be different, but the point is, it doesn't matter who we are.
No human being on this planet is able to judge this so great a people, or strictly speaking serve the Lord in any capacity on their own power and wisdom. But have no fear, just as Solomon was able to serve the Lord as King because the Lord granted him wisdom, we too can have from God the wisdom necessary to serve Him fully.
What do you think allowed Solomon to make the right choice? Do you think I missed anything? Let the world know in the comments section.