Solomon was known for having wisdom. You know the story – instead of asking for riches and power, Solomon asked God for wisdom and he was given a ‘wise and understanding heart’ along with more riches than anyone else in the world. (The full story can be read in 1 Kings chapter 3)
The author of much of the Old Testament wisdom literature, Solomon shared his heart in words that have inspired people for thousands of years. His words of wisdom are enough to fill entire books and other blog posts, but I want to highlight one of his parables that really stood out to me.
Thoughts on Wisdom and Folly
In the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter nine ends with six verses under the section titled “Thoughts on Wisdom and Folly.” Solomon recalls a story of wisdom that made such an impression on him that he just had to share it. The story was simple: one day a great king and his army came to siege a small town that held only a few people in it. A poor, wise man knew how to save the town, so it was rescued, but the people didn’t even think to say thank you to the man.
The people of that day put more value on strength, worldly wealth and power than they put on wisdom. Solomon ended the story with the counsel that even though wisdom is better than strength, the wise will still be despised if they are poor.
Better to hear the quiet words of a wise person than the shouts of a foolish king.
Better to have wisdom than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good.
Is wisdom really valued today?
Sounds like a weird question, doesn’t it? But when you think about what’s valued in society today, a few different things come to mind: wealth, power, success, physical appearance, strength, and influence. No, these things aren’t new and were certainly around when Solomon was alive, which is why he’s sharing the importance of valuing wisdom.
The smartest man in the world is telling us that wisdom is more powerful than any wealth, strength and title that we could ever achieve.
The good news is that we can grow in wisdom.
How to get wisdom.
Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Before Solomon even presented his request for wisdom, he approached God with humility. He recognized that his knowledge and experience wouldn’t be enough to fully understand God’s people, so he identified his limitations and asked God for the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to follow through with it.
That’s it. There wasn’t a ‘wisdom application.’ God didn’t require so many years of experience. Nor did Solomon try to explain why he deserved wisdom. He simply asked humbly and God gave him wisdom.
But that was the Old Testament – we don’t have the same thing happening today, right? Not so fast. In James 1:5 we read that if we ‘need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.’ We have the ability to ask God for wisdom, and His word says that He will give it to us.
I’m no expert in wisdom, but if I had to start somewhere in asking God for wisdom, I would try to approach it with humility just as Solomon did when he became king. After all, what good is wisdom if you aren’t humble?