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Bible Order: 2 Chronicles 31–33
Chronological Order: 2 Samuel 19-21
New Testament Only: John 4:1–20

True Wisdom

1 Kings 4–5

Praying Man in FieldIn reading today’s passage I was struck by the description of Solomon’s wisdom.

1 Kings 4:29-34 ESV

“29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.”

David is dead.  The reign of Solomon has begun and it is well begun at that.  His father David prepared for his ascension to the throne materially, philosophically, and spiritually.  God came to Solomon and asked him what he would like and Solomon answered that he would like wisdom with which to rule the people of Israel.  This showed that, at the beginning, Solomon’s heart was in the right place.  This is what God cares about most my friends – the heart.  It does not matter what you say.  It doesn’t even matter what you do.  The condition of your heart is what matters.  You can do and say the right thing for the wrong reasons and it will carry no favor with God.  If you stumble though your heart is in the right condition, however, He will not hold it against you if you sincerely ask for forgiveness.  Look how, in 2 Chronicles, God responded to Solomon’s request.

2 Chronicles 1:11-12 ESV

“God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked long life, but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.”

We know from Scripture that the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord.  We know that in this context the word fear means great awe and respect for God.  To desire wisdom is to desire a right relationship with God.  In the verse above we see played out what Jesus said about God meeting our material needs:

Matthew 6:31-33 ESV

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

In seeking wisdom Solomon was seeking God which resulted in the rest being added to him.  Solomon started on the right foot.  He is the author of the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and many of the Proverbs and Psalms.  His knowledge of God is great and yet the seeds of his future wandering from God have already been sown.  In 1 Kings 3 we were told of Solomon’s prayer as well, along with one detail that was missing in the 2 Chronicles version.

1 Kings 3:1 ESV

“Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem.”

This bit of information is provided before we are told of Solomon’s prayer for wisdom.  This does not necessarily mean that he took an Egyptian wife prior to his request for wisdom, but it kind of makes sense to me that he did.  There is a difference between human wisdom and divine wisdom.  In human wisdom a marriage alliance makes sense as it was a method for securing peace.  In divine wisdom a marriage alliance does not make sense since you are relying on your own efforts and wisdom for protection rather than on God.

Much of the wisdom for which Solomon is praised seems to be human wisdom; knowledge of how the world works and the best way to do this, that, or the other.  Still, his proverbs and psalms show that he understood divine wisdom; that is the need to trust and obey God.  It appears to me that Solomon had both and yet, as we will see, he eventually wandered from God.  The cause of this separation stems from his foreign wives and their false gods and religious practices.  To keep peace in his house he allowed them to practice their dead religions.  This is a toxin that poisoned Israel and Solomon himself.

Here is my point, you can have wisdom, you can know God, but unless you consciously decide to obey Him you are in real danger.  God asks you to obey Him not for His own good but for your own good.  When will we get that through our thick heads?  As Paul reminds us:

1 Corinthians 3:18-20 ESV

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

God even tells Solomon that obedience is true wisdom.

1 Kings 3:14 ESV

“And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

All of God’s promises come with that caveat – “If you will walk in my ways”.  It is the “will” to act in wisdom that is essential.  You can know what to do but if you don’t do it wisdom is meaningless.  Be wise my brothers, obey God.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

(Originally posted 5/31/11)

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