Prayer for Paul Martin and his government

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 30, 2004

Never let it be said our newly elected Liberal minority government in Canada doesn't have a prayer. In fact, I have one for them right here. But before I let you in on it, I want to tell you a story about the wisest king that ever lived.

Solomon, son of King David and Bathsheba, was the third king of ancient Israel. He reigned in the mid-10th century B.C., about the time creative writing was grabbing the imagination of the cradle of civilization and the Phoenicians began colonizing Spain.

When he ascended the throne as his father's chosen successor, he dealt quickly with family rivalries and regional differences that threatened to destabilize the nation. He brought Israel to the height of its glory, with territory that included much of present-day Syria and Jordan, and trade routes that extended to Africa, Arabia and Asia.

His policies both at home and abroad resulted in peace and prosperity. His wisdom won him the respect of all. His reputation as a resolver of conflicts, compiler of proverbs, and composer of romantic verse is legendary to this day.

All this, because early on in his kingship he had his priorities straight. He proved this one night in a dream.

In the dream, God appeared to Solomon and said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."

What a golden opportunity for a ruler's self-serving agenda to rear its ugly head!

Solomon began his answer respectfully enough by acknowledging God's kindness to his father and expressing gratitude for being able to fulfill his father's dream for him.

"But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties," he said. "Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number" – a people, I might add, who were not always loyal to his father.

At this point Solomon could have bought into the philosophy of "Don't get angry, get even!" But, no. Instead, he said:

"So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

God liked the way Solomon was thinking and said to him:

"Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be."

Then God added:

"Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for – both riches and honor – so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."

In this account recorded in the Bible (1 Kings 3), what Solomon wanted more than anything else was "a discerning heart" – or as I sometimes refer to it, "a listening heart" – that he might guide his nation wisely. And God honoured his request.

True, years later it seems that Solomon became distracted by the affairs of heart and state. He forgot the God of his father, David, and deviated from the way of wisdom. And when he did, the nation suffered – even to the point of breakup and collapse under his successors.

But during those early years when he kept his priorities straight, not just Solomon but the entire nation prospered.

This week Canada was granted a fresh opportunity to get its priorities straight, to walk worthy paths in the spirit of truth and mercy.

And so I make my prayer, not just for Prime Minister Paul Martin, but for all members of Parliament as they exercise their high calling:

Like Solomon of old, may you be given a discerning heart – yes, a listening heart – that you may guide our nation wisely.

© 2004 Warren Harbeck

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