In Search of Wisdom, Proverbs 1:1-7
The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon
The Writer of Wisdom
Most of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible is attributed to Solomon, King of Israel and Son of King David, under whose leadership Israel experienced its golden age (c. 967 B.C.)
According to the First Book of Kings, God offered Solomon anything he wished, and Solomon asked Him for understanding to rule the nation. Because of Solomon's honorable request, God not only granted him wisdom, but also rewarded him with wealth and glory (see 1 Kings 3:5-15).
Moreover, Solomon is also credited for building the First Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6).
The Qualities of Wisdom
The wisdom of which Solomon writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has been preserved in the words and dark sayings of the wise (Prov. 1:6). It is a body of knowledge that has accumulated over time and that can be learned (Prov. 1:5). It does not consist on hidden knowledge, but rather it is available to those who pay attention (Prov. 1:5), like students learn from their teachers.
Moreover, the wisdom of which Solomon writes is for everyone (Prov. 1:4-5). It is for the simple, the kind of person who does not know much; it is for the young man, the kind of person who has little experience; and it is for the wise man, the kind of person who has insight into how to lead one’s life.
The wisdom of which Solomon writes is also moral (Prov. 1:3). It is meant to help us understand what is right and what is wrong so we can choose what is right. It is meant to help us identify justice, exercise judgment, and act with fairness and impartiality.
Nevertheless, the most defining point about Solomon’s wisdom is that it is godly (Prov. 1:7). It is informed by God’s character, will, and revelation. It consists on fearing God: believing in Him and living with regard to His good will.
The Point of Wisdom
Although Solomon and the other contributors to the book of Proverb write under the sovereign direction of the Holy Spirit, they often rely on theology, nature, human behavior, and the law of cause and effect to derive principles for how one ought to live. After all, that is the point of the book: to teach us principles to live in a way that attracts God's blessings on our lives.
What then attracts God's blessings upon our lives? What motivates God to notice us and to bless us? Solomon tells us that the "beginning of knowledge" is to fear God. In other words, believing that God exists, relying on Him, and submitting to His will attracts His blessings on our lives (not because we earn his blessings through obedience, but because He delights in our obedience and wishes to reward it).
The Kind of Wisdom
The kind of wisdom of which Solomon writes is then different to the kind of wisdom that we usually find in modern times. It is not pragmatic as it does not focus on the results. It is not scientific as it does not draw from modern science. However, it is spiritual; it draws from faith in God and in His revelation to humankind.
Does the world still need this kind of wisdom, this spiritual wisdom? I believe it does because neither pragmatism nor science can satisfy the human quest for meaning. Ultimate meaning is found in God, in knowing that He loves us and that we can have a meaningful relationship with Him.
The Folly of Fools
Finally, the introduction to the Book of Proverbs ends by reminding us that "fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7, KJV)
There is real value in knowing how to live well, how to live in a way that attracts God's blessings in our lives, and how to live in a way that pleases God. For if we do not learn to live in such a way, we may soon find ourselves living in an opposite manner: living in a way that brings pain to our lives, living in a way that invites God's curse in our lives, and living in a way that displeases God, the Judge of all the Earth, to whom we must give account for our lives.
Questions for Reflection or Discussion
1. What is your source of wisdom?
2. Do the principles by which you live really work for you?
3. How does your wisdom compare to Solomon's wisdom and to other forms of wisdom out there?
© 2017 Marcelo Carcach