When God answered Solomon’s prayer for wisdom and knowledge, God did not just give him wisdom and knowledge, God gave Solomon wisdom, knowledge, and wealth.
And God said to Solomon, because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life, but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyselft that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like. (2 Chronicles:11-12)
Typically, God only gives us what we ask for. It says in James 4:2, “ye have not, because ye ask not.” In general, we understand that we need to ask God for what we want, but in Solomon’s case, God gave Solomon something he didn’t ask for… and maybe didn’t want. It is not clear whether Solomon wanted wealth, but didn’t ask for it or God decided to give Solomon wealth even though or because he didn’t want it.
It’s hard to imagine that Solomon, or anyone else for that matter, would not want to be wealthy. It could have been that Solomon was not interested in material possessions, but more than likely, Solomon already had everything he wanted as far as material possessions go. King David was a rich man and probably gave his son everything he asked for. The one thing David couldn’t give his son was wisdom because wisdom only comes from God.
Prior to Solomon, people relied on casting lots to determine the will of God. It may not have occurred to them that they could possess wisdom and be able to discern the will of God without having to ask every time a new situation came up. Knowing the will of God was probably important to Solomon because he didn’t want to make mistakes like his father David had. King David’s affair with Bath-sheba and murder of her husband Uriah caused his family a great deal of pain and suffering. When Nathan the prophet confronted David with his sin, he used a story of greed to depict David’s actions.
In spite of his youth, I believe Solomon was already a wise man when he asked God to give him wisdom and knowledge. Only a wise man would realize that wealth was not the answer to success. I think God gave Solomon wealth because God knew he was wise enough to not abuse it. Solomon was not concerned with impressing other people and was content with what he already had.