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The Curious Case Of The Wisest Man Who Acted Unwisely

No prize for guessing who it was.


Yes, it’s Solomon, King David’s second son by Bathsheba. He ascended to the throne in his late teens, probably when only 18. No small wonder he felt overwhelmed by his youth and when given a choice, asked for wisdom instead of long life, or wealth, or the death of his enemies. God gave him a wise and discerning heart. (1 Kings 3:10-14) Way to go!

King Solomon was an extremely gifted person. People came from all over to listen to his wisdom. The Queen of Sheba traveled a long distance to satisfy her curiosity, testing him with riddles and all, and she was truly smitten.


But Solomon remains an enigma to many of us. How did the smartest dude behave so foolishly – from a position where God was pleased with him, the pendulum swung to one where he angered the Lord God? Someone cheekily summarized as follows: “King Solomon had 999 problems, and a foreign wife was every single one of them.”


He did not observe the Lord’s instruction not to submit to other gods. His many wives and concubines perverted his mind, and his heart was no longer true to the Lord his God. (1 Kings 11)


So, what can we learn from this?


One: Though wise, Solomon contradicted himself.

It is possible for a person to hold one set of values but practise differently. Like a person who says he treasures his health but continues to smoke. Two contrary thoughts in one head. Solomon knew what would please God, yet chose to please his many wives instead. He walked into a trap of his own making.


Though Wisdom has often been portrayed as strong, it needs strengthening. Precept upon precept, practice upon practice. As drug addicts fully know from painful experience, they can grasp what is right from wrong but lack the power to pursue it. Only the ministry and fullness of the Holy Spirit can change and transform.


Two: Wisdom isn’t everything if it does not glorify God.

Solomon can be said to be in a league of intelligence on his own and was probably a first-class administrator and astute judge. The people benefited from the peace and prosperity during his reign. As long as what he did honoured God and lifted Him up, the benefits of wisdom were obvious and well shared.


Yet, there is worldly wisdom which does not glorify God. What’s clever in every sense of the word, yet, leaves God out of the picture? We can commence with the lure of materialism. Think of scams – their creativity, persuasion, “bait-and-switch” schemes; cunning-ness. Cheaters and beguilers, perversion of what’s lawful and right.


Three: Caution – The heart is deceitful above all.

Jeremiah 17:9 declares: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (NLT) Well, possibly Solomon had a taste of it? Wise enough to know what is wrong yet not always having the willpower to choose what is right!


Ellicott in his Commentary for English Readers expands on ‘the heart is deceitful’. “The sequence of ideas seems as follows: If the blessing and the curse are thus so plainly marked, how is it that man chooses the curse and not the blessing, the portion of the ‘heath in the desert’ rather than that of the ‘tree planted by the waters’? And the answer is found in the inscrutable self-deceit of his nature blinding his perceptions of good and evil.”


John, the last of the original apostles, in his old age wrote to warn about “the passions of the flesh; the desires of the eyes; and the proud display of life” (1 Jn 2:16, Berkeley Version) which continually war against our souls. The triple whammy not to be trifled with. Recommended solution? Flee, not flirt. John further added: “And the world with its lust passes away, but he who does the will of God remains forever. (verse 17)”


Our Lord Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). What He says in Matthew 6:33 on placing God first and always, is more than smart advice. Here’s true wisdom for time and into eternity.


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