7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 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?” 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, ...
1 Kings 3:7 - 11
ESV - 7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.
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I would say that Solomon was clearly not speaking from a chronological perspective. He was a grown man when he succeeded his father David to the throne of Israel. Instead, he was making a humble comparison of his own abilities and life experience (which he characterized as those of a little child) with the magnitude of the new responsibilities as king that had been placed upon him. That was why he asked God for wisdom (or, as we might say, wisdom "beyond his years") to enable him to make judgments and decisions that would be the same as they would have been if he had been older and more "educated" -- not in the sense of "book-smart", but "life-smart" (including life lessons or experience that he had not yet had the time or opportunity to acquire, as well as knowledge of God's principles and will) -- when he became king.
3:7" I am a young boy," is a rhetorical phrase expressing inexperience and humility (compare Jer 1:6). Solomon is an adult; he had already fathered Rehoboam, his eldest son, by this time (1 Kgs 11:42-43; 14:21). 7. "I am but a little child"—not in age, for he had reached manhood (1 Ki 2:9) and must have been at least twenty years old; but he was raw and inexperienced in matters of government. Solomon called himself a "little child" (1 Chron. 22:5; 29:1 ff), a sign of both honesty and humility. "I know not how to go out or come in." "To go out or come in" means to lead the nation (Num. 27:15-17; Dt. 31:2-3; 1 Sam. 18:13, 16; 2 Kings 11:8). Solomon was only about 20 when he became king. He didn't have much administrative experience. He admits he had insufficient knowledge but was not admitting he lacked confidence.
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