Reflection on Solomon and wisdom: (as part of a study of Set Apart: Holy Habits of Prophets and Kings by Jessica Lagrone)
If you seek wisdom, here are some thoughts from a study that I and other women are currently devouring!
Jessica Lagrone , in writing about Solomon’s consecration that set him apart for leadership of God’s people, includes a section on wisdom. She identifies what she refers to as “several different kinds of wisdom”. As I read her descriptions, they all meshed together in a complimentary fashion to make “wisdom” something so much more beautiful and God-given than I had ever considered before.
Lagrone’s 5 sections (from pages 22-25)
1.) Wisdom from Acquired Knowledge of Life Experience – (James 3:13-17) “Knowledge and wisdom sometimes go hand in hand, but sometimes they do not……it is acquired through patience, age, experience, or study; it is something acquired from the Lord.”
2.) Widsom for Political Savvy- (1 Kings 2) In the story that immediately precedes Solomon’s dream-prayer at Gibeon, his father, David, gave him some last instructions before his death about how to run the kingdom….David gives instructions about how to deal with enemies who have wronged their family after he passes away. “You are a man of wisdom,” David instructs Solomon..”You will know what to do with him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood”…About another situation he advises Solomon, “Deal with him accofing to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace.” …..The wisdom to deal with enemies is one kind of wisdom it takes to be king. No wonder it is immediately after this speech that Solomon begs the Lord for wisdom! But is this the kind of wisdom God grants? God’s response to Solomon’s request for wisdom notes both what he asked for and what he didn’t ask for. (1 Kings 3:11-14) God grants Solomon everything he might have asked for (but didn’t) except the death of his enemies……God’s point is not lost here. Wisdom for revenge is not what God is granting.”
3.) Wisdom That’s Passed to the Next Generation- Solomon passed many proverbs along that were attributed to his pen. Is the kind of wisdom he is granted the kind that helps one raise up a child in the way he or she should go? ……Wisdom isn’t necessarily hereditary, as the experience of his own son Rehoboam shows us. (1 Kings 12) The kingdom so artfully united by his grandfather David was divided under Rehoboam. Solomon’s wisdom is not necessarily the kind that translates to the next generation.
4.) Wisdom for Accumulating Wealth- Besides wisdom, Solomon is famous for the ostentatious display of wealth and luxury that he amassed. Is his wealth a result of God-given wisdom? Is it reported in a positive light? In Luke12:27-28, Solomon’s wealth is on the losing side of the comparison with a wildflower. Wisdom to produce economic prosperity is obviously not something that is high on god’s list of priorities.
5.) Godly Wisdom- the Discernment to Rule Yourself Before Ruling Others- In Solomon’s legendary decision in 1 Kings 3:16-28, deciding who was the true mother of an infant, Solomon shows his wisdom. But his true wisdom came from the discernment to rule himself before ruling others. Solomon knew that he needed to follow god before others could follow him….. The first thing he did upon awaking from his dream was to worship God. Then he served. His answered prayer led to right worship and then to benevolent action. His encounter with God changed him first, then it changed the way he governed. Before ruling others he needed to place himself under the rule of the King of Kings. (1 Kings 3:15).
As I read and meditated on these Scriptures and Lagrone’s writing, this is how these 5 kinds of wisdom spoke to me and how I interpreted her thoughts on wisdom in a coordinated, complimentary, and comprehensive way. (Each of my numbers corresponds to her numbers above.)
1.) The Source of Wisdom- I have pondered wisdom a lot over the years. In light of Luke 2:52 “…And Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and favor with men.” I have thought about the ways in which Jesus, in his humanity, would have grown in these ways. As I have thought about wisdom, it seems to be a function of several parameters in which God has gifted all people to be able to normally develop under the right circumstances and guidance….. intellectually (knowledge), emotionally (emotional literacy and intelligence to know how to interact with and respond to people in all kinds of circumstances), morally (in moral stature within his community and among peers), spiritually (in relationship to God) and socially (in relationship to others and with the ability to influence and lead others.) The only other way that is alluded to in this scripture is physically. And as people grow in stature physically, it is expected that they will grow in all the other ways that lead to and are observed in their lives as wisdom! It is God’s plan that we would develop wisdom through the normal process of being raised in God-fearing families and trusting in and obeying God! He has created us with a wonderful and full capacity for wisdom that is fulfilled through his divine creative work in us as we grow in all the ways he has ordained for us to grow!
2.) The Purpose of Wisdom- Her section on political savvy spoke to me about how we are to use wisdom in exercising influence and in being able to be peacemakers. (A highly valued aspect of Christ, the Prince of Peace, for those who are growing in godly character as evidenced in Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”)
3.) The Legacy of Wisdom- Are we teaching the things that will result in the wisdom of God for the purposes of God to be accomplished in the generations after us?
4.) The Blessings and Temptations of Wisdom- Are we enjoying the true blessings of wisdom that are in harmony with God’s will and represent the riches of his Kingdom? Or are we pursuing the things that can become a trap and lead us into temptations as Solomon experienced with his multitude of foreign wives who diluted his zeal for the Lord, led to disobedience, and his preoccupation with military hardware and arms-dealing with other nations? Although he started out well, he became a man of might and wealth in ways that had entrapped his father, too.
5.) The Personally Transformative Nature of Wisdom- When we are granted wisdom from God through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we increasingly learn to yield in submission of our self and our desires to the control of God and his desires in every area of our lives. That occurs through the transforming power of prayer as we learn to listen to God in all the ways that he speaks to us. As Lagrone said, “True wisdom is wisdom that changes us before it changes the way to minister to others. It is wisdom to let God rule us before we set out to make decisions that affect others.”