1Ki 3:7-9, 7 … I am 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, … 9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
Solomon’s reflection before ask revealed the shoes he needed to fill and they were too big. He as in Jeremiah considered himself too little for the task ahead. Solomon therefore beseeched God for wisdom (an understanding heart). Wisdom is a good sense shown in a way of thinking, or action, and making sensible decisions and judgments based on personal knowledge and experience. Wisdom discerns and directs on application.
He asks precisely what he feels to be necessary to his work and nothing more. He recognizes the importance of wisdom over everything, “For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.”, Ecc 7:12. Here we learn that both wisdom and money are a defense, but wisdom gives life to those who have money, meaning wisdom has a greater defense over all.
Consider what he felt that this work demanded. He must discern between good and bad, right from wrong, the qualities required of everyone especially for great leaders/rulers. Anyone who seeks truth in-spite of any falsehoods that might be invented to blacken, seeks wisdom as their defense. Wisdom is key for temperament and action.