Solomon Asked For…
After Solomon became King of Israel, God appeared to him in a dream and offered to give him whatever he wanted. Because Solomon wanted to be a great leader, he asked for…
…Intelligence. He asked to be the most intelligent person in the world. No, he didn’t ask to be the most intelligent person in the world. He didn’t ask to have the highest IQ. His goal wasn’t to be the smartest person in the room. So what did he ask for?
Of course, Solomon asked to be the most educated person in the world, to have more knowledge than any other person. No, Solomon didn’t ask to have more knowledge than anyone else. He didn’t ask to be the most intelligent or the most educated person in the world.
Solomon asked for wisdom. He asked for wisdom because he knew that was the most important attribute of a leader who was to effectively lead his people. He wanted the gift of discernment so he could make wise decisions. God was so pleased with Solomon’s request that he said, “I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” (1 Kings 3:12)
The reign of Solomon was amazing. It was the high point of the united nation of Israel. The temple was constructed under the direction of Solomon to give glory to God. And the people of Israel experienced prosperity as they had never seen it before. Rulers and leaders from across the world came to learn from Solomon for his reputation as a leader stretched across the nations of that time.
Wisdom, the most treasured, most valued attribute of a leader, but exactly what is wisdom?
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, once said (prior to her nomination and confirmation), “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
Without debating the truth of that statement, how do you think Judge Sotomayor would define wise or wisdom? She might talk about her experience as a Hispanic in a society where Hispanics are a minority. Or, she might talk about her education and her role (at that time) as a college professor. She would probably make sure you knew that she is very intelligent (as she is). And somehow that would sum up her definition of wise or of wisdom. But is intelligence or education or our personal experience the sum and total of wisdom?
Psalm 111:10a says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This doesn’t mean that God is not a loving God, but that to be in the presence of the Lord God Almighty is an awesome thing. It is something that we cannot imagine. The very thought of it makes our voice shaky and our knees tremble. Imagine a mortal, cracked clay pot in the presence of the potter, the Creator. Even great Old Testament leaders like Moses couldn’t look at the face of God or they would die. To be in the presence of an all powerful and righteous God is a fearsome thing for a sinful, mortal human. But that’s where we must begin if we are to gain true wisdom.
When we talk about “common sense,” or sometimes “horse sense,” we are talking about the application of Godly wisdom to our lives. This doesn’t mean that only those who are Christians have access to common sense, but it does mean that those who study and trust in the Bible have direct access to common sense, to wisdom.
There’s a book I’m planning to read, one I’ve heard discussed on a couple of occasions. It’s called, “I Didn’t Know That Comes From The Bible.” It is apparently a compilation of hundreds, if not thousands of common sense expressions that we use every day, all of which come from the Bible.
And, of course, who can forget the Book of Proverbs, with some of the most practical suggestions for successful and satisfying living. Just consider the first six verses of the first chapter…
“The proverbs of Solomon, David’s son who was king of Israel,
given to grasp wisdom and discipline, to understand deep thoughts,
to acquire the discipline of wise behavior—righteousness and justice
and fairness—to give insight to gullible people, to give knowledge
and foresight to the young—a wise person will listen and continue
to learn, and an understanding person will gain direction—to
understand a proverb and a clever saying, the words of wise people
and their riddles.”
There are 31 chapters in Proverbs and every chapter is chock-full of good, sound, wise advice, the kind you can count on to be true. Just listen to a few samples of this Godly advice…
“…do not forget my teachings, and keep my commands in mind,
because they will bring you long life, good years, and peace.”—3:1
“Consider the ant, you lazy bum. Watch its ways, and become wise.
Although it has no overseer, officer, or ruler, in summertime it stores
its food supply. At harvest time it gathers its food.”—6:6-8
“Treasures gained dishonestly profit no one, but righteousness
rescues from death. The Lord will not allow a righteous person
to starve, but he intentionally ignores the desires of a wicked
“Integrity guides decent people, but hypocrisy leads treacherous
people to ruin.”—11:3
“Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace in any
“A good name is more desirable than great wealth. Respect is
better than silver or gold.”—22:1
“Do not brag about tomorrow because you do not know what
another day will bring.”—27:1
“Who can find a wife with a strong character? She is worth far
more than jewels.”—31:10
And then there are the Ten Commandments, words of God written directly on stone and brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. The first three Commandments are about God and tell us to put Him first, to not value things (idols) more than God, and to not use His name in vain. The next seven tell us that it’s not smart or wise to lie, to steal, to commit adultery, to tell falsehoods about others, or to covet what others have. We are also advised to give honor to our parents and to those in authority.
Of course, that’s not what the smart people of today tell us. Wisdom is not in abundance in the United States as it was in the early days of our Republic. We can no longer pray in the Public Square even though Benjamin Franklin counseled those stalemated on the creation of the US Constitution on July 28, 1787…
“…if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice,
is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have
been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord
build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly
believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid
we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the
Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local
interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall
become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what
is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance,
despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave
it to chance, war and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move-that
henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its
blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every
morning before we proceed to business.”
Yet today God is not invited to the 9/11 10th anniversary commemoration. God has been kicked out of the classroom. A former Vice President swears uncontrollably in public. We’re told that lying is OK as long as it is done with good intentions. We’re told by a sitting President that oral sex with an intern is not adultery. Lies are told in public by the “right” people and the media doesn’t even call them to account. A leading national party has made as their theme coveting the success and belongings and wealth of others (class warfare). And, of course, children are led to believe that honoring your parents, especially your father, is optional.
Today there is much of talk about candidates for President and what grades they got in school. I don’t care what grades they got in school. I don’t care what their IQ is. I don’t care about how many books they have read or even how much knowledge they have. I care only about how truly wise they are. It is wisdom that makes a great leader, not intelligence or vast knowledge. Wisdom is what is too often missing in our leaders because they do not humble themselves before God. Instead, they seek to be God.
They seek not to serve, but to rule. They seek not to expand the freedom of their fellow citizens, but to expand their power and control over their daily lives. Wanting to be like God was the first sin. And now we are all stuck with sin that corrupts all human beings.
Godly wisdom is what the Founders possessed. They understood the fallen nature of man. They knew that if given the opportunity, the most kind and gentle man could turn into a ferocious master. They understood that it is not intelligence or knowledge that makes one man better than another. All are capable of the most heinous acts if given the opportunity. There are no better people, only fallen people.
As it says in Romans 3:22b-23…
“There is no difference between people. Because all people have
sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory.”
This message of the fallen state of man starts in Genesis and is carried through the entire length of the Bible. There’s no difference between this truth in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Without God’s forgiveness there is no hope for us. We are all fallen sinners.
That is the real wisdom of the Founders and it is still the wisdom that counts today. That’s why the Founders sought to create a limited government with limited power. They knew and understood that concentrated power, even in the hands of a seemingly benign and well-intentioned individual or individuals first leads to corruption, and then to oppression, and finally to tyranny.
When asked if folks who believed loony things were stupid, Bill Buckley replied something like this, “No, they aren’t stupid. They are very smart. It’s just that so much of what they believe to be true isn’t true.”
Bill Buckley understood the difference between wisdom and knowledge, wisdom and intelligence.
Prosperity begins with freedom. Freedom begins with an understanding of the fallen state of man. An understanding of the fallen state of man begins with faith in the God of the Bible, faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior from the sin that corrupts us. This is the wisdom of our Founders. May we be blessed with it again.