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April 21, 2020

THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 21 April 2020

When the prayers of God's people align with the purpose and will of the Lord, it will bring delight to Him. God responded to Solomon by affirming his request. He asked for what truly mattered and prayed in God’s will. He could have asked for the typical desires of kings (things such as longevity, prosperity, and peace). Solomon, however, asked for a “hearing heart” (1 Kgs 3:9, 11).

God’s promise to Solomon was that the king would receive what he had asked: discernment in administering justice and a wise and discerning heart. “Discernment” in Hebrew conveys the idea of being able to distinguish between options, perceiving whether something is right or wrong, wise or foolish. “Wisdom” primarily describes “skill,” and in the context of 1 Kings 3, it denotes “skill in living.” True wisdom is not merely intellectual genius so much as it is concerned with the ability to live in accordance with life (as God has ordered it). “Wisdom” is a term that will be used to describe Solomon more than twenty times in the subsequent chapters.

Three times in his response, the Lord told Solomon, “I will give you.” The first gift would be wisdom, to an extent that it would distinguish Solomon from all people, yet the Lord’s grace overflowed. God would also give Solomon what he had not requested – riches and honor – so that Solomon would be superlative in his generation. Finally, the Lord extended a conditional promise: “If you walk in my ways . . . I will give you a long life.” The earlier promises had been unconditional, but this promise was conditioned upon obedience. The outcome of this part of the promise is indicated by the fact that Solomon died near the age of sixty, while David (his father) lived for seventy years.

One of the first lessons novice pilots have instilled into them is that they must trust their instruments, not their instincts. In a cloud or at night, when visibility is restricted, a pilot can lose all sense of direction. One’s instincts may seem certain, but they may be profoundly wrong. The way of wisdom is not to heed one’s feelings; rather, it is to trust the instrument panel. Wise people learn and live!

The way of wisdom is to learn and live; yet it is important to understand what the Bible means when it discusses wisdom. One of the questions that inevitably arises from the life of Solomon is, “How could such a wise man do so many foolish things?” Wisdom, as the Bible describes it, is not primarily an abstract or reflective concept; rather, it is a practical element. The Hebrew word for “wisdom” contains the idea of skill.

In the book of Exodus, “wisdom” is used six times to describe abilities of two master craftsmen (Bezalel and Oholiab), the mastery of skills and techniques. “Wisdom” is also used to describe skill that enables a person to be a gifted administrator, judge, or leader; it is in this sense that it describes Solomon. However, in its most important sense, wisdom describes skill in living: a comprehensive term that describes skill in relationships, moral integrity, practical life issues, and, supremely, in spiritual matters; it is this most important sense that is primarily in view in the book of Proverbs. The premise of such skill in living is that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10).

The tragedy of Solomon’s life is that for a while he maintained the lesser kinds of wisdom: mastery of information and people, but he lost touch with the most important kind: skill in living, because he damaged his relationship with God. Wisdom without a relationship with God is meaningless. Solomon became a very wise fool. His life is a powerful reminder that believers not only need to be wise; they also need to be wise in the right manner. Only a vital, healthy relationship with the living Word, Jesus Christ, as He has revealed Himself in the written Word, the Holy Bible, makes this possible.

Grace and Peace to You,

Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia

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