Get Wisdom (4)
I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. Ecclesiastes 1.12, 13
A quest, not an endowment
Solomon asked God to grant him wisdom so that he might rule the people of Israel justly and well. Solomon feared God and feared what God might do if he failed in his calling to rule as Israel’s king. Thus, he had a good start in gaining what he sought, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom is an essential element of a good conscience and a strong soul.
We can get the impression that, following his evening’s encounter with the Lord, Solomon awoke the next day and was suddenly the wisest man on earth. Like the Tin Man, suddenly spouting the Pythagorean theorem, we might think Solomon was immediately endowed with the wisdom of God.
But that is not the case.
God granted Solomon’s request for wisdom, but, apparently, not as a sudden gift from on high. According to his own account in the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon had to seek the wisdom of God by all the means of revelation God had provided. So Solomon became a student of the Law of God (Eccl. 12.13), following the practice of Israel’s kings by writing a copy of the law and meditating in it day by day. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and daily meditation in God’s Word describes the path wisdom would take in our lives.
Wisdom as wide as the world
But Solomon did not stop with studying the Word of God only. He also became a student of the world of creation. Solomon understood, as David taught, that God was making Himself and His glory known in the things He has made. Thus, Solomon expected to discern the Lord and His wisdom by becoming a student of the world around him – creation and culture alike. His proverbs are full of insights and wise conclusions which Solomon derived from careful observation.
Solomon’s father, King David, had written of the works of creation:
All Your works shall praise You, O LORD,
And Your saints shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,
To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom. (Ps. 145.10-12)
Solomon knew that God has hidden His glory in the world of creation, and with His glory, His wisdom. The creatures around us and the patterns of the created world reveal much about God and His character and purpose. The more familiar we become with these, and the more we ponder them in the light of God’s Word, the more we may expect to discern the Lord and His will from the things He has made.
Solomon understood that, as a king who sought the wisdom of God, it was his responsibility to seek out, through the study of creation, whatever God might be pleased to reveal there of His glory and wisdom (Prov. 25.2).
The creation is a vast library of insights and examples on how to be wise and to live for the glory of God. Knowing this, Solomon took up the study of created things – trees, plants, beasts, birds, reptiles, and fish (1 Kgs. 4.33). He wrote thousands of proverbs and songs to encode his observations, reflect on them, and pass them on to others.
Jesus, creation, and wisdom
Jesus also guided us to see the wisdom of God in everyday things and situations. Jesus pointed to birds, flowers, fields, seeds, and more to draw the attention of His hearers to the wisdom of God encoded there. He told stories about everyday situations of life and culture, and He invited His hearers to consider the wisdom of God revealed there. By the examples of creation and culture, Jesus pointed to the mysterious ways and wonders of God’s Kingdom.
We’re not going to be wise by just wishing it were so. Nor by praying earnestly, although we must. We can learn wisdom by including with our study of God’s Law some observing and reflecting on the world around us. By allowing the Word of God to illuminate our path, we can discern the Presence, power, and purpose of God at work in created things, and have the teaching of His Law and Word reinforced in our daily experience.
Becoming wise begins in the fear of God and devotion to His Word, including His Law. But growth in wisdom increases by ongoing, daily study of the world around us. Our investigations of creation don’t need to be cosmic in scope or scientific in approach. There is plenty around us, right where we are, to delight us with the beauty, wonder, simplicity, and majesty of God, if only we will take the time to look and learn.
If we would be wise like Solomon and Jesus, we must take up the study of the creation, devoting ourselves through reading, study, observation, contemplation, and conversation, to searching out the wisdom of God as revealed in the things He has made.
1. Have you ever thought about the creation as a source of wisdom? If no, why not? If yes, give an example.
2. Skim through Proverbs and pull out some examples showing what Solomon learned from observing the creation. How did he see the wisdom of God in these examples?
3. Make a quick list of aspects of the creation which you might expect to reveal something about the wisdom of God. Beside each item in your list, explain briefly what you might expect to learn about wisdom from observing this item.
Next steps - Preparation: Choose something from the creation around you, something immediately accessible for you to observe. Watch it for a while – a slowly meandering creek, the night sky, birds at the feeder, the leaves on a tree. Ask yourself: What is God showing me about Himself? About what it means to be wise?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.