Solomon, the son of David who succeeded David on the throne of Israel, is an interesting person. There are essentially two aspects to Solomon’s life – the time in which he was obedient and following God, and the time when he strayed from the Lord. This week and next week will focus on the time in which he was walking with God in obedience, and the resulting gift of wisdom given him by God.
In 1 Kings 3 we find God inviting Solomon to ask him for whatever he desired. Solomon’s response was this:
… O Lord, my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?
In response, God told him he would indeed make him more wise and discerning than anyone before or after him, and would also bless him with riches and honor.
The next few chapters tell stories to illustrate this great wisdom. Solomon discerns how to distinguish between truth and a lie in a case of child abduction (1 Kings 3:16-28). He was visited by the Queen of Sheba, who marveled at his wisdom (1 Kings 10:1-13). He built a great temple for the Lord and organized all his kingdom. A summary passage states this (1 Kings 4:29-34).
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 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. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 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. 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.
Solomon’s proverbs begin with these words (Proverbs 1:2-7).
To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth – Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
He acknowledges that the beginning to being wise and knowledgeable is to fear the Lord. This is not a fear as in being afraid, but a fear as in a healthy respect, awe, obedience, and worship of the Lord. Solomon said to start there if you want to have wisdom.
Next week the readings are all from Proverbs, chapters 5-24.