Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son. Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly. – Psalm 72:1-2 ESV
What should you pray for your kids? As a father of six, I have struggled with that question over the years. There were times when I prayed for their safety. Prior to their conversions, I prayed relentlessly that they would come to faith in Christ. There were plenty of times I begged God to help them just get along. I asked Him to give them good friends and to help them succeed in school. I prayed for their future mates and, in for the four who are still not married, I still do. I prayed for their healing when they were sick, for them to have joy when they were sad, that they would develop a love for God's Word and a desire to live for Him all the days of their lives – and I still do. But as my kids have grown up and I have grown older, I have seen my prayers change in both tone and content. I have learned from reading and studying the prayers of the Bible. I have discovered there is something far more important than my children's safety, happiness, success, future spouses, friendships, or health. It is their godliness. As i read this psalm written by David for his son, Solomon, I was reminded once again that what my children have really needed over the years is rarely what I have prayed for them. David was praying for his son as he began his reign as the king of Israel. And what he prayed for him is revealing. He asked, “Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son.” He didn't pray that Solomon would be a successful king or a powerful ruler. He didn't ask God to give him victories over all his enemies. He asked for something far more significant. The NET Bible translates David's request in a way that makes them even more impactful. David was asking God to give his son “the ability to make just decisions” and “the ability to make fair decisions.” David knew that Solomon's future success as a king was going to be based solely on his godliness. Solomon was going to need God's help in the form of God's wisdom in order to rule wisely, justly, and fairly.
It's interesting to note that, in the early days of his reign, Solomon had a dream in which God appeared to him and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” (1 Kings 3:5 ESV). Solomon's answer seems to reveal that David had spent some time drilling into his son the understanding that wisdom and godliness were the most important assets he could seek in his life. Because when Solomon responded to God's question, he said, “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9 NLT). The Scriptures tell us that God was pleased with Solomon's request and that God responded, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life” (1 Kings 3:11-14 NLT).
David knew that Solomon's greatest need was God. Whether he became a king or a commoner, Solomon was going to need God to guide him, direct him, and provide him with a sense of right and wrong, justice and mercy, righteousness and fairness. It is interesting to note that the apostle Paul prayed for his children in the faith in a similar way. He told the young believers in Colossae, “We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Colossians 1:9-10 NLT). He knew that the key to them living lives that were God-honoring, God-pleasing, and spiritually fruitful, was that they be godly, being filled with a knowledge of God's will.
Our children's greatest need is God. Their future success is dependent upon their dependence upon God. Their future marriages will thrive only to the degree that they are filled with God's wisdom, justice, righteousness and understanding. It doesn't matter how much money they make or how many degrees they earn. It doesn't matter how far up the corporate ladder they climb or how big a home they eventually live in. Their greatest need will remain their need for God. Their greatest strength will remain their reliance upon God. What our children really need can't come from this world. It can only come from God. Their greatest need is spiritual, not physical, emotional, or financial. Godly children grow up to be godly teachers, parents, husbands, wives, nurses, doctors, accountants, and friends. Pray that they get more of God. Pray that they be filled with His wisdom and understanding. The more they have of Him, the more impact they will have on the world and the greater influence they will have on those around them.