Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Wisdom of King Solomon

Solomon was the son of King David, born of Bathsheba, who had been the wife of Uriah the Hittite, who served in the King’s army. King David saw her bathing from his roof and had her abducted and fell in love with her. When she got pregnant, he tried to manipulate Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife, so that his adultery would not be discovered, and when that plan failed, he schemed to have Uriah killed at war, and then married his widow. God was angry with David for doing such an evil thing and sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke him and convey God’s judgment upon him, that this child would die and the sword would never depart from his house. David confessed his sin, repented and the Lord forgave him. Soon David and Bathsheba had another child, Solomon, who the Lord loved and blessed.

David seems to have paid special attention to Solomon and taught and instructed him personally, and Solomon took the words of his father to heart. As his father suggested, Solomon desired wisdom above all things, especially after his father David died and he became king of Israel. God blessed Solomon with great wisdom, because he desired it intensely, more than wealth or victory over his enemies (2 Chronicles 1:9-12) and he knew the value of it through his own experiences and through observing others. And, being wise, he taught many, including his own children, and was known as “the Teacher” (Ecclesiastes 1:1).

Solomon reigned as king for 40 years and accomplished an incredible number of things. He was a prolific writer, with great insight, and authored several books including, ‘The Book of Proverbs’, ‘Ecclesiastes’, ‘Song of Solomon’ and ‘Book of the Wisdom of Solomon’, the first three of which are part of the Bible. His diplomatic skills earned him great alliances with some of the greatest powers of his time. He constructed the first and exceptionally grand temple for the worship of God in Jerusalem, after which he constructed a grand palace for himself and other palaces for his many wives, including the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Solomon began and finished many construction projects, including infrastructure to provide water supply in the city, the Milo for the defence of the city, the Ezion-Geber port that facilitated the commercial activities of Israel through a naval fleet he created and commissioned there. The kingdom of Israel prospered and reached the point of its highest glory during Solomon’s reign.

The Bible gives an account of Solomon’s wisdom and achievements in 1 Kings 4:29-34:
“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.”

All that Solomon did, could not have been possible unless he was an extremely disciplined and organised man, and therefore he knew the value of hard work and discipline. In his writings, he urges people to desire wisdom, seek understanding and insight, live a disciplined life, exercise prudence and discretion and always do what is right and good, motivated by a healthy fear and reverence for the Lord. We can trust the Proverbs, because they are written by a man who knew the meaning of what he wrote, because it all came from what he personally practiced himself or observed by watching people closely. By taking the Proverbs seriously and applying its wisdom to our lives, we can take advantage of the wisdom and experience of the wisest man on earth, avoid costly mistakes and live a life of worth and meaning.


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