The Wisdom of Solomon?

wisdom

When you read about the Kings of Israel or Judah, their life is always summed up in one sentence, as a kind of Eulogy: King ­___ did right/evil in the sight of the Lord. That’s really all it boils down to, if we do right or we do evil in the sight of the Lord. None of the other things that they did matter. Take King Solomon for example. The wisest man who ever lived, the Lord appeared to him twice. Once he told him, “Ask what you wish me to give you.” He asked for wisdom to be able to lead the Israelites. God was so pleased with his answer that he said he would give him wisdom, riches, and honor, and if he followed his commandments that he would prolong his days. Solomon went on to build the temple for the Lord in Jerusalem.

It sounds like he lived his life to bring God glory, but Solomon had one small problem.  Chapter 3:3 “Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” And in chapter 11 vs.1-6 it says (paraphrase), “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women.  They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’  As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord….”  Contrast this to Ch.15:11&14 “And Asa did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” “The high places were not taken away, nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the Lord all his days.” You do not want your epithet to read:  He loved the Lord, EXCEPT….. We need to make sure that we keep our hearts wholly devoted to God. Solomon started out loving God, but then he put other people before him and his heart was pulled away.

Sherry Alcumbrack

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The Wisdom of the Kingdom

matt 11 19b

Matthew 11:16-17

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, 17‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’”

After his disciples depart from him, Jesus turns to the crowds and begins to address them and tell them about the ministry of John the Baptist (v. 7ff). He chastises them for their dismissal of John’s ministry and their false expectations for who John was as a prophet. Jesus praises the ministry of John and acknowledges his preeminent place as the greatest prophet, yet this is not the way the people viewed the ministry of John.

Transitioning into a caricature of the crowds to whom he was speaking, Jesus says, “to what shall I compare this generation?” (v. 16). This “generation” was Jesus and John’s contemporaries who heard them preach and who should pay attention to them. But Jesus describes them as “little children” who are in the “marketplace.” The similitude with which Jesus draws upon is how children play with each other in public and respond to each other by playacting. They engage with each other and are influenced by what each person is doing.

But the people Jesus is speaking to are not like that. Instead, they are like children when their friends call to them and play the flute, do not dance; or when their friend sings a sad song, they do not mourn (v. 17). What this analogy is pointing out is that the present generation surrounding Jesus does not care to respond to what John and he are doing. They are not interested in the kingdom or the message of repentance. Their reluctance to embrace the ministry of John demonstrated their unreasonableness and refusal to hear his words.

Our generation today is not much different than in the time of Jesus. Even though we have a message of grace and truth that exceeds that of John, people will still be disinterested in those words. We might play a flute or sing a dirge, but by and large, our generation still resists the wisdom contained in those words. Not our wisdom, but the wisdom coming from the one who the message is about—Jesus.

Jesus concludes this section by saying “Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (v. 19). The wisdom that Jesus taught and which we proclaim today is something not aimed at competing with what is so called “wisdom” but is proved right by the results it produces when it is lived. The wisdom of the kingdom is not to be found in the eloquence of the message but in the actions that accompany the one who follows it, for wisdom is shown to be right according to the deeds that she accomplishes. If our deeds demonstrate the wisdom of our Master, then even if no one dances or mourns, we can be confident that we are not failing to fulfill the mission given to us. We must remember that this generation too will resist the message that brings hope and delivers people from the darkness of this age. So don’t be dismayed at the world’s refusal or their ridicule of you but be encouraged knowing that you are bearing the light in a dark place, and there are few who are willing to carry that torch.

-Jerry Wierwille

Bold

If you want to leave a lasting impact on this world, you must first learn to be different than the rest of the world. Boldness rejects popularity for the truth, and comfort for the cross.

When Jesus died, the world saw him as a criminal. After Jesus ascended into heaven, the apostles were tasked with changing the world’s hearts, from yelling “Crucify!” to calling Jesus Savior. This was no easy job, yet they went forward with boldness.  They rejected popularity for the truth, and comfort for the cross. They persevered through persecution and hardship.

As Peter and John, two of Jesus’ closest friends, were speaking to the people at the temple about Jesus and even healed a crippled man, they received great opposition. They were approached by the priests and Sadducees, who “were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:2). Peter and John were thrown in jail and met before the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law that made up the Sanhedrin the next day. The Sanhedrin poses the question, “by what power or what name did you do this?” (Acts 4: 7). Peter responds with such a boldness we should imitate today,

“Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:8-12).

The rulers, elders, and teachers of the law were astonished by the courage of Peter and John, who were just ordinary men. Before Jesus called them, they were lowly fisherman, yet they approached the courts with such assurance and strength. After the hearing, Peter and John were commanded “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). Despite the opposition, they answered with confidence in their Savior, “judge for yourself whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19 & 20).

You, too, have seen and heard all that Jesus has done. The Kingdom message, which is compared to a pearl of great value, has been revealed to you. Will you shamefully keep your pearl hidden, or will you unashamedly share that pearl with the world who so desperately needs it?

Just like in the times right after Jesus’ death, believing that Jesus is Lord and Savior is an unpopular opinion, yet the Great Commission still stands: “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19 & 20). Spoiler alert, God’s side is going to win the war when He establishes His Kingdom on the earth. In the meantime, fight this battle to win over hearts for that Kingdom. You may receive opposition, but do not be afraid because you already know the outcome of the war. Go forward with the same confidence Peter and John had. Be bold.

~Mackenzie McClain

Keep Reading!

Proverbs 1-5a
SATURDAY Weekly Re-cap with Megan Bryant
This week, we read through the last few chapters of Proverbs.  As I said at the beginning of the week, Proverbs is a collection of timeless wisdom.  We looked at pieces of this wisdom ranging from true friendship to confessing our transgressions to being satisfied with our daily bread.  And since these posts didn’t focus on every verse, I would encourage everyone to read back over Proverbs as a whole and analyze the verses not discussed on this blog.  Every time we read the Bible, we have the opportunity to grow in a new way.  We may see a verse in a new light or notice something that we may have missed before.
Let’s continue to learn and grow as we continue to read through the Bible, but also look back over what has already been read to gain new insights.
-Megan Bryant

A Godly Woman

PROVERBS 31

Proverbs 31-10

Proverbs 31 comprises a collection of teachings from King Lemuel taught to him by his mother.  In Hebrew, Lemuel means “devoted to God.”  The first nine verses of the chapter offer 3 main lessons:

1-    Be careful not to partner with destructive people, whether in marriage or social/ business circumstances.

2-    Be careful with alcohol, lest it clouds our judgment.

3-    Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Do any of these bits of wisdom apply to your life or current circumstances?

Verses 10-31 are verses that I hear and read a lot as a woman.  These verses are crocheted onto pillows and painted on plaques that women like to keep in view.  This section of Proverbs tells us that a virtuous woman is one of strong character, an able and compassionate woman.  She is trustworthy and brings good to other people.  Her family relies on and blesses her.  This Godly woman is an outstanding wife, mother, and businesswoman.  The passage doesn’t mention the woman’s outward appearance; only her actions and her character define her.  Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

The description of the woman who fears the Lord can be overwhelming.  However, we are encouraged to be more and more virtuous in our walks with God every day.  What can we all (men and women) change or improve to be more like the woman described in the later section of the chapter?

Megan Bryant

Still Seeking the Next Big Thing?

PROVERBS 30

Proverbs 30-8

Before writing this post, I did some research about other commentaries and devotionals from Proverbs 30.  Many writers have speculated about the author of this passage, whether Agur is a pseudonym for a known author or what wisdom this author may possess.  Most of the devotionals focus on verses 5-6: “Every word of God is flawless, he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Do not add to his words or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”  These verses tell us that we can confidently put our faith in the Lord and warn against tampering with His Word, the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16-17, Numbers 23:19, Deuteronomy 12:32, and Revelation 22: 18-19 all reinforce these 2 verses in Proverbs 30.

 

When I read this chapter, however, I did not latch onto those 2 verses like most of the commentaries and devotionals I read.  I was drawn to verse 8.  “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”  As a whole, our society is never satisfied.  We are always seeking something more.  I remember talking about marriage in a psychology class, and the professor was explaining how studies have shown that one reason marriages tend to fail more often now than they used to is often because one of the spouses is seeking something more, whether that be a more attractive partner or a partner who makes more money or whatever qualifications are deemed important, rather than being content and wholly loving the current husband/wife.  We are never satisfied, always looking for the next-best thing.  Verse 8 asks the Lord for neither poverty nor riches, only what is needed for the day.  The writer isn’t seeking more.  He’s seeking to be satisfied in the Lord.  We’ve all read that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:25), and verse 9 reinforces that someone who is “full” is quick to deny the Lord.

Proverbs 30-9a

Though society tells us that we always need the newest and next-best thing, the newest iPhone, the bigger tv, the prettier woman or more handsome man—the Bible teaches us to be content with what we are given.  Our daily bread is enough.

-Megan Bryant

Three Deep Breaths

PROVERBS 29

Proverbs 29-11

When reading Proverbs 29, I caught onto a theme of how to handle anger and frustration.  Verse 8 says that the wise turn away anger.  Verse 11 reads that the wise bring calm whereas the fool vents his rage.  Verse 20 instructs us not to speak in haste, verse 22 tells us that angry and hot-tempered people stir up conflict and commit many sins, and verse 23 warns against pride, which is often a precursor to anger and argument.

We all encounter trying situations.  We all have tense moments in which we want to scream into a pillow or go for a run or do whatever helps us to cool off.  Proverbs 29 instructs us to keep a cool head and turn away from anger.  I remember a scene from a movie or television show (although for the life of me, I can’t remember the source) in which a character is stressing out.  Another character instructs her to take 3 deep breaths, saying that in the time it takes to complete those 3 breaths, she will stop herself from doing or saying anything she may later regret.

At some point or another, we all get angry.  In these times, it is important to know how God instructs us to handle ourselves.  I had a classmate in college who would pray for the class before every exam.  She always ended her prayers by asking the Lord to keep us calm, cool, and collected during the stress of the exam.  Three deep breaths.  Calm, cool, and collected.  When on the verge of having an outburst, remember to be the wise man and bring calm.  Be wise and turn away anger.  Don’t speak in haste.  Lean on the Lord and His teachings, even in tense moments.  Three deep breaths allows for enough time to reflect back on these verses.

-Megan Bryant