I've been reading the book of Proverbs lately.
In the past, i've kind of plowed through that book of the Bible, enjoying its simple two line bits of wisdom, and moving on quickly. This time, however, i have been taking more time to mull over the concepts and themes presented and so on.
And it occurred to me . . .
The Bible says that when Solomon (the writer of the Proverbs) asked for wisdom, God granted his request and said that there had been no one like him before, and would be no one like him after (I Kings 3:12). I think when we read this, we assume that God meant that no one had ever been or would ever be as wise as Solomon. At least that's the assumption i was working from that led to this post.
The irony is that Solomon, presumably the wisest man on earth, did some truly troubling and unwise things in his life. But why? Why Solomon? How could you be the wisest man, the favored king, and still make such nutty decisions?
I have often heard it said that knowledge is the information, but wisdom is knowing how and when to use it. Or something to that effect.
Well, i think that all the folks touting that tidbit of clarification should add a third line: Humility is the key that makes wisdom useful.
It occurred to me that wisdom becomes useless when pride gets in the way.
Back to Solomon . . .
After being honored by God and appointed to be the king to build the temple for God to live in (an honor that King David was denied), after being blessed by God in amazing ways that were rumored all over the known world of that day, so much that foreign royalty would come to him to gaze on his riches and hear his wonderful wisdom, and would give him MORE riches just for being so awesome -- after all of these blessings, I Kings 11 records that Solomon decided to chase foreign women and worship false gods, a situation that God had specifically warned him about in verse 2. But Solomon "followed his heart" and consequently, the tribes of Israel were split, the kingdom divided, and David's legacy . . . disturbed, to say the least.
It doesn't really say, but i surmise that Solomon started to inwardly take credit for the gift of wisdom God had given him. He got wise in his own eyes. That's the key to foolishness. Solomon didn't say so, but i will. No matter the knowledge or the wisdom you acquire in your days, pride will obliterate it all, if you don't guard your heart. Pride blinds us and whispers lies in our ears about how wonderful we are and how smart we are, how much smarter than God we are, and it gets us in big big trouble, regardless of all the knowledge and wisdom we have previously gained..
Humility is the key to useful wisdom. Maybe that's the biggest lesson we should learn from Solomon.
Wait, he said it, didn't he? Maybe the most often quoted proverb of all: "Pride goes before a fall."