The Wisdom of Solomon
WHO has not heard of the wisdom of King Solomon? It is as proverbial as the patience of Job. Would you like to be as wise as Solomon was? Impossible? Not altogether. In fact, you can show wisdom like that of Solomon in dealing with your problems if you will but follow the same rules he followed.
God’s Word, the Bible, gives ample and eloquent testimony to the wisdom of Solomon. Among the first examples recorded is that involving two women, each of whom claimed that a certain live child was hers and that a certain dead child belonged to the other. How was Solomon to determine the truth? Well knowing how a mother feels toward her own child, he ordered the living child to be cut in two, with half given to each. The responses this elicited from each revealed just whose child it was.—1 Ki. 3:16-28.
It also took great wisdom on Solomon’s part to organize in an efficient way his gigantic building program that involved, not only upward of 183,000 workers, but also such an extensive copper-smelting project that he is referred to as “the Copper King.” His dedication of Jehovah’s temple also testified to Solomon’s wisdom. It furnished him the opportunity to do things on a grand scale, as can be seen by his sacrificing 22,000 cattle, 120,000 sheep, by having a mammoth well-trained orchestra with choir and by his eloquent prayer on that occasion.—1 Ki. 5:1–8:66; 2 Chron. 2:1–7:11.
Concerning Solomon’s wisdom the inspired Record also tells: “Solomon’s wisdom was vaster than the wisdom of all the Orientals. . . . And he was wiser than any other man . . . And he could speak three thousand proverbs, and his songs came to be a thousand and five,” chief of which is his “Song of Songs.” He also was an authority on natural history, plant and animal life. From far and wide people came to hear his wisdom.—1 Ki. 4:29-34.
Solomon’s book Ecclesiastes is literally filled with wise observations. Therein he dealt with the futility of all earthly pursuits, because of the calamitous occupation that is the lot of humankind due to the uncertainty of life. Among his wise observations in that book are that timing is important (“There is . . . a time for every affair under the heavens”), that two are better than one, that wisdom and knowledge are defenses even as money is, that in death man is unconscious and has no preeminence above a beast, and, chief of all, that to fear God and to keep his commandments is the whole obligation of man.—Eccl. 3:1; 4:9; 7:12; 3:19; 12:13.
On an even greater scale does the book of Proverbs give examples of Solomon’s wisdom. Therein he shows, first of all, why wisdom is desirable: Wisdom means peace, happiness and long life. (Pr 3:13-18) More than that, by being wise lowly human creatures can actually contribute to the happiness of the Creator and his vindication: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” (Pr 27:11) And throughout the book, some fifteen times, he stresses the fear of Jehovah, which, he shows at Proverbs 9:10, is the very “start of wisdom.”
Of his many choice bits of wisdom in that book these are just a few:
“More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.” “The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.” “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise.” “An answer, when mild, turns away rage.” “Pride is before a crash.” “He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man.” “When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part.” “Buy truth itself and do not sell it.” “Do not make your boast about the next day, for you do not know what a day will give birth to.” “The wounds inflicted by a lover are faithful.” “Trembling at men is what lays a snare, but he that is trusting in Jehovah will be protected.”—Prov. 4:23; 10:22; 11:25; 13:20; 15:1; 16:18, 32; 18:13; 23:23; 27:1, 6; 29:25.
From where did King Solomon get such wisdom? From his Creator, Jehovah God, in answer to a prayer: “Jehovah my God, . . . I am but a little boy. I do not know how to go out and how to come in. . . . And you must give to your servant an obedient heart to judge your people, to discern between good and bad.” Yes, because as a young man Solomon appreciated his need for wisdom and went to the right Source for it, he became truly wise.—1 Ki. 3:7-9.
But Solomon remained wise only so long as he kept an “obedient heart.” In his old age, after he flouted God’s express commands for his servants not to intermarry with the pagans and for his kings not to take many wives to themselves, Solomon lost his wisdom. In doing so, let it be noted, Solomon went against his own counsel: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him.” As a result, Solomon became a fool and died outside of God’s favor. (Prov. 3:5, 6; Deut. 7:3, 4; 17:14-18) So you have in Solomon both an example to follow, when he was wise, and an example to avoid, when he became foolish.
You may not personally be so keen an observer of life as Solomon was, and you may not be so efficient an organizer as he was, but you can draw on the same Source of wisdom as he did and so manifest in your life a wisdom that far excels that of men. As Solomon did, so you can pray to God for wisdom. “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him.”—Jas. 1:5.
But that is not all. As Moses told his people Israel: “I have taught you regulations and judicial decisions, just as Jehovah my God has commanded me . . . And you must keep and do them, because this is wisdom on your part and understanding on your part.”—Deut. 4:5, 6.
Yes, to have wisdom like that of Solomon you must turn to God and to his Word, and then with an “obedient heart” keep and do what you learn to be His will for you.