Bread – Wisdom

August 28, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, August 28, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Kings 3:1-15; Acts 27:9-26; Mark 14:1-11; Psalms 12,13,14,119:1-24

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In our reading today from 1 Kings, Solomon is described in three events. The first event is going to Egypt to make a marriage alliance. 1 Kings 3:1. The second event (series of events) is sacrificing to God at multiple “high places.” 1 Kings 3:3. The third event is where Solomon asks God for wisdom, for “an understanding mind to govern Your people, that I may discern between good and evil…,” which God then gives him. 1 Kings 3:9-12.

These events really describe three different “sources” of wisdom which Solomon exercises, and these events are therefore instructive for us regarding how we obtain wisdom and the results of how we obtain it.

The first event describes the wisdom of the person, whether it arises from reason, education, experience, or “out of thin air.” This is a form of worldly wisdom, one which is tied to the exaltation of self over community and God. For whatever reason, Solomon believes that it is a good idea for him to create a marriage relationship with Egypt. Egypt was a powerful country, in terms of economy, culture, and military. One way to obtain peace with such countries was to create family alliances, the primary one being through inter-marriage. From Solomon’s personal perspective, marrying Egyptian royalty is great “common sense” wisdom. However, it is wisdom which opposes God because God has told the Hebrews not to create close ties to Egypt (Deut. 7:16 warns against “returning to Egypt”) and not to intermarry with foreigners, because they will lead the nation (and Solomon) to worship other gods (Deut. 7:4). God’s wisdom, contained in His revelation to man (Scripture) is rejected in favor of Solomon’s personal wisdom about what he should and should not do. Although this first type of wisdom has the appearance of wisdom, it is not.

The second event describes the wisdom of the community, of society, whether it arises from social custom, mores, standards, culture, or whatever. This is a form of wordly wisdom, one which is tied to the self being subject to the community and neither being subject to God. Here, Solomon is worshiping God in the “high places.” These were not necessarily “high” places (on mountains), but were public places set aside for worship, sometimes of whatever “god” the people wanted to worship there. These were not places designated by God for His worship (remember that He was present in the “tent of meeting” and, later, the temple), but were places created by the community. The community wisdom was that these “high places” were appropriate places for worship of God, but here again the law of God (Deuteronomy 12) describes the one place. 1 Kings describes that Solomon worshiped particularly at Gibeon, because that was the “great high place,” but there is no designation by God of Gibeon as that place. Yes, a miracle occurred at that place (see Joshua 10:12), but it was still a place designated by the people for the people, not by God. Again, although the wisdom of the community may have the appearance of wisdom, it is not when it is contrary to God standards.

The third event represents Godly wisdom, given to Solomon because he asked for it. It is the ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil, truth from untruth. It does not come from education or experience, but as a gift of God. In this sense, it is supernatural, because it does not come from us, either alone or in the aggregate as community, but from God. Its beginning is in the fear (awe) of God, recognizing Him as God. Prov. 15:33.

Good, better, best. Self-wisdom is better than none. Community-wisdom may be better than self. But the only true wisdom, true discernment, is a gift of God.

So the question for each of us is, “Where do we get our wisdom from?” Is it from books, observation, what people tell us, or what God tells us?

If you think about it, we get our wisdom from whom we obey. If we obey ourselves, we get wisdom from ourselves. If we obey what people around us want, we get wisdom from them. If we obey God, we get wisdom from God.

So maybe the question for each of us today is “Who do we obey?” And the answer to that question may well lie in the answer to the first – where do we get our wisdom from?

We say we are followers of Christ. Do we really, really get our wisdom from God? If not, are we really followers of Christ?

Tough questions, requiring wisdom to answer. Now, what well of wisdom will we drink from to answer them?

__________________

© 2013 GBF

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