Wisdom: Solomon’s, God’s, and ours

Wisdom mural

Wisdom. Mural at the Library of Congress by Robert Lewis Reid

“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.” That’s the caption to a mural called “Wisdom” in the Thomas Jefferson Buliding of the Library of Congress.

Wisdom differs from intelligence or knowledge. The ordinary dictionary distinction is that wisdom involves sound judgment and the ability to apply learning and knowledge to the conduct of your affairs.

In the Bible, there are four different words translated wisdom. They refer to having skill, being prudent, being upright, and having understanding.

Solomon, known above all for his wisdom, ultimately failed.

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Eat your food with gladness

Of all the heros of the Old Testament, I have the most trouble really appreciating Solomon. It’s hard to relate to anyone so rich and powerful–and who had all those women. They were his downfall, really. A man known for his wisdom foolishly turned away from following God. He also wrote the gloomiest book in the Bible, but if we dig beneath an almost cynical surface, Solomon has a lot to say about living in an imperfect world.

It’s almost as if God let Solomon discover that the human condition is hopeless without a savior, but then neglected to let him in on the fact that he intended to provide a savior.… Read the rest

The wisdom and folly of Solomon

People find it easier to start well than to end well. Nowadays, we see it in the tremendous number of anointed ministers of the gospel who fall into some kind of gross sin. (Failures of lay Christians get less press but provide similar evidence.) In the Bible, we see it in the lives of all of the ancient kings that God declared good.

Early in his reign, Solomon delighted God one evening. He asked God for a discerning heart to be able to judge rightly and thus fulfill his kingly duties. Because it is impossible to please God without faith, we know Solomon asked in faith for such wisdom.… Read the rest