In the days when Solomon had succeeded David on the...

The Christian Science Monitor

In the days when Solomon had succeeded David on the throne at Jerusalem, the new king, facing the problem of judging his people, that is, of ruling them with justice, prayed that he might receive an understanding heart so as to be able to discern between good and evil. The sense in which judgment is freely used, all through the Bible, of the power not to pass sentence on the evildoer but to be able to distinguish good from evil, is made perfectly clear here. Solomon saw the problem that was before him and he asked neither for long life nor for riches nor for revenge—the things commonly so dear to the eastern potentate. He asked, on the contrary, for that mental quality which he conceived would be of most use to his country—namely, ability to understand Principle. Now every human being stands, in his relation to humanity, in some degree in the position of Solomon. It is true that the ordinary individual is not called upon to rule kingdoms; but he finds himself in the midst of a world stricken with sin and disease, and if he is not to add to that sin and disease, but is to exercise his power to separate good from evil, in order that he may help to destroy the latter, he must, as Solomon saw, possess an understanding heart.

The average man is apt to imagine that he has no opportunity for exercising anything but the most infinitesimal influence in the world. The great power of influence, which, in his philosophy, is reserved for kings and statesmen, for great generals and great poets, is, he believes, entirely outside his reach. Yet the fact is that there is no limitation to his power of influence, except that placed upon it by his own sense of limitation. The whole history of the world is rich with men who have broken the limitations with which they were apparently surrounded. The greatest instance of all is, of course, Jesus of Nazareth, whose understanding of Principle enabled him to be the founder of the Christian religion. But Muhammad started upon his evangelistic career an elderly and unknown merchant with one servant as his follower; whilst centuries later Shakespeare trudged out of Stratford to hold horses at the doors of a London theater; and, again centuries later, a rail-splitter in North America became one of the greatest figures in the world's history.

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