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Breezin’ Through the Bible #13, Solomon, Wise and Foolish

January 14, 2014

Solomon, Wise and Foolish

Can one be wise without being smart? Solomon was wise, but was he foolish? The Bible reminds us that a man as wise as Solomon can act incredibly stupid. The foolish wise man is not just an oxymoron.

David, on his death-bed, advised his son Solomon to be strong, act like a man, and obey the Lord and his commandments, so he could prosper in all he did. Then his descendants would follow him on the throne as the Lord promised. Solomon became king. To maintain peace he married the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He repaired the wall around Jerusalem, finished the royal palace, and constructed the temple according to his father’s plans. The Ark of the Covenant was brought to the temple, and God entered into his home on earth.

In a dream the Lord asked Solomon what he could give him. Solomon replied, “Give your servant a discerning heart.” His request pleased the Lord, who promised Solomon wealth, honor, and a long life in addition to wisdom. 

Two prostitutes came before Solomon, each claiming a baby. Both women had delivered babies at the same time, but one had slept on her child during the night, and she placed the dead child in the arms of the sleeping woman and took her baby. Both women insisted the living child was hers. Solomon requested a sword and said he would cut the baby in half so each woman could have half. The child’s real mother protested, saying the other woman could have the child. Solomon knew then that the real mother loved her baby, and he restored her son to her arms. His sagacity impressed the people.

Everyone said Solomon was wise, and he earned fame for being wiser than anyone else. Solomon’s name became synonymous with wisdom. Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs about many subjects, and his songs numbered 1005. Among his proverbs is “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge.”(Proverbs 1: 7)

Solomon’s fame spread to every nation. The Queen of Sheba went to Jerusalem to question Solomon and learn from him, taking spices, gold, and precious stones. The queen was overwhelmed with Solomon’s achievements and great wealth as she returned to her homeland bearing many gifts.

Solomon’s lavish lifestyle required great wealth, so he taxed the people excessively. He conscripted his subjects into working for his projects. The heavily burdened people soon rebelled against his increasing demands and brutal authority.

Ignoring his proverb and counter to the commands of God, Solomon took many foreign princesses for wives. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines, disregarding God’s injunctions against intermarriage with foreign women. Solomon’s wives led him astray, and he built altars, permitting sacrifices to their many false gods. This was evil in the eyes of the Lord and was not smart of Solomon. God warned Solomon against the erosion of his faith. God’s blessings depended on Solomon’s obedience in doing what is right. His son’s would reap the rewards of Solomon’s foolish behavior.

How can one so wise, act so foolishly? Like Solomon, people throughout the ages are puzzles that cannot be understood. Each has a portion of good mixed with an amount of evil. Blend fear of the Lord (old testament) with love of the lord (new testament) to have true wisdom, but add steadfastness to remain faithful to the Lord who loves us. 

“The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;

To forsake evil is real understanding.”   (Job 28: 28)

 

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