January 12, 2020
King Solomon (also a type of priest) of ancient Israel was touted by many in the Bible to have been the wisest man who ever lived. Why was that? Because, as a youth, he had the opportunity to ask God for anything he wanted. Solomon chose to ask God for wisdom. In The Wisdom Book of Solomon (9:4), Solomon asks God, “Give me the wisdom that sits by your throne.”
Solomon clearly recognized the source of wisdom to be from God. The Bible has categories called the wisdom books. I won’t name all of them, but some of my favorites are Proverbs, Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach. Some are in the Protestant Bible and others in the Catholic Bible. Both Bibles tell us in many places that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Why do we need wisdom? Look at Solomon’s accomplishments for an example. They were, and still are, legendary. As the king, he was once presented a case in which two women claimed a baby was theirs. Solomon said to divide the baby in two and give each woman a half. Naturally, the real mother said, “No, don’t harm the baby. Let the other woman have the baby.” By this, Solomon knew who the real mother was.
Important people from all over the world of that day came to visit Solomon and marvel at his great accomplishments. The queen of Sheba went to see him and declared, “The half has not been told.”
Wisdom in anyone produces great results in their lives, for God, their families and society at large. Anyone of normal mind can achieve wisdom. But like Solomon, you have to seek after it. Even though Solomon asked God for wisdom, it wasn’t just automatically put in his brain. Solomon had to work to achieve his wisdom.
How does one achieve wisdom? By prayer, observing, reading, experiencing, and many other ways. Let me make this point very clear: there is a vast difference between wisdom and knowledge. People can have all kinds of knowledge but not know how to use it or what to do with it. To me, my definition of wisdom is knowing HOW to use knowledge.
I recently wrote a blog post titled “EXPERIENCE.” If you didn’t read it, you should, as it fits right in with this post on wisdom. Also, my post titled “A NEW DECADE RESOLUTION” fits right in with this post. It was about the importance of reading, a great source of helping one to achieve wisdom.
In that post, “A NEW DECADE RESOLUTION”, I wanted to include this quote from Socrates, but just didn’t want to make it too long. And this quote is one of my favorite quotes. I used it many times in my sermons. One of my former parishioners had the quote written out on fine parchment paper by a very good calligrapher and had it put in a nice 8” x 10″ frame. It hangs on my office wall now.
Socrates admonished, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.”
We learn from others and their experiences, and the wisdom they can impart to us. Solomon did that.
There was a time that many people thought the earth was flat. Many other false beliefs and misconceptions had to be overcome and taught to others so they could obtain wisdom.
So much of what humans know today, our wisdom, was learned incrementally over time, and handed down from previous generations. That concept is often referred to as institutional wisdom, or institutional memory.
What if every generation had to re-invent the wheel all over again, so to speak?
Look at our legislative bodies, our judicial systems, business and industry, medicine, even our religion–all the wisdom the previous pioneers have given to succeeding generations to build on.
One with wisdom wants to make things better in his world. Sometimes that means effecting change, and that is hard to do. It comes over time. Sometimes a lot of time. But, one possessed with wisdom does what he can. Some things can’t be done RIGHT NOW. Wisdom recognizes that.
I love the prayer (and part of a sermon) made famous by Reinhold Niebuhr back in the 1930’s. It is commonly referred to as “The Serenity Prayer.”
It says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
That prayer/sermon itself was pure genius; pure wisdom. It wasn’t completely original by Niebuhr because the thought had many precursors over much time. Niebuhr just sort of perfected those thoughts, condensed them, and made them popular.
But think about that wisdom Niebuhr mentioned. Change what you can. We have changed the horrible inhumanity of slavery, allowed women to vote, made too many things better for me to have time and space to write about. All through wisdom.
And wisdom must first and foremost help the one who has it. How can it make you better? Better health, better religious experiences, better jobs and careers, better relationships, better environment; I could go on and on, but I must stop.
So seek wisdom. It’s better than life and it will live on long after your departure from this world.
God Bless You,
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