[May 02]--Wisdom vs. Knowledge

1 Kings 3:1-15

Before we talk about today’s reading, I’d like to mention the tentative plan I have for the rest of the year and beyond for the TAWG blog. This month we’ll pick some stories out of the Kings and Chronicles books, ending with a short discussion on Satan. Next month we’ll tackle the touchy subject of Job and suffering. From June through the rest of the year I plan to look at the Gospels of Matthew and John. Starting next year, I hope to spend about six months in the Wisdom Literature (Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, no, I'm not going to do Song of Solomon here). The second half will be devoted to Mark, Luke, and Acts. I want to emphasize that this is tentative, and God can certainly change my plans for me. Hope you’ll stick around for the ride.

The story of Solomon started off on a very positive note. Solomon was asking for wisdom, but he was already displaying the wisdom of Socrates even before God answered his prayer. Socrates was famous for claiming that the words “I don’t know” are the beginning of true wisdom, since that shows that we recognize that we’re ignorant and need instruction. By the way, this was one of my favorite Bible stories as a kid. Can you imagine God Almighty coming to you and asking you what you want? I wouldn’t encourage people to hold this image of God, since it implies that he’s our servant like some sort of genie, but in this special case the Lord volunteered.

And of course if you’re familiar with the story (or if you just read it), you know that the Lord was very impressed with Solomon’s request. The young king was probably quaking in his sandals over taking the throne—Can you imagine taking over after David?! What an act to follow! We saw this before in the case of Joshua, who had to be told multiple times to “be strong and courageous” as he was taking over after Moses. So God granted him his heart’s desire and then some, giving him not only wisdom, but also wealth, peace, and prosperity.

I've maintained for several years that every Christian should be a philosopher. What do I mean by that?When we think of a philosopher, we tend to envision someone like a college professor who doesn’t live in the real world. Someone like that might have a lot of knowledge, but he might be short of wisdom. True wisdom is having the understanding necessary to act in accord with what’s true and good. It actually starts with a personal relationship with the Source of all wisdom.

The word “philosophy” comes from two words: Phileo (love) and Sophia (wisdom). So literally it means “love of wisdom.” It has little to do with esoteric debates like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. If you’ve read the book of Proverbs, you know how practical true wisdom is. And since the Lord is the ultimate source of all wisdom, all of us should be “philosophers.”

Father God, I'm in such need for instruction by you. Let me sit at your feet and listen.

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