13 Pentecost, August 19
Solomon is overwhelmed. He stands in the midst of “a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted” (1 Kings 3:8). He will rule, if at all, by a gift he does not yet have and that God alone may give. “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you’” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon does not ask for a long life or riches or the life of his enemies, all of which would be ruinous without the skill to rule and govern with wisdom: “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9).
Notwithstanding Solomon’s later corruption, he is renowned for this request and God is pleased to grant it. Solomon’s wisdom concerns the discernment of good and evil as circumstances unfold and as critical moments demand decision and action. Discernment is not, as often suggested in our ecclesiastical environment, the endless forestalling of decision, nor is it getting what one wants with the added presumption that the Holy Spirit sanctions every thought or feeling. Discernment is always a risk, and always a responsibility. Discernment cannot cut off the possibility of error, and thus continued vigilance and humility are essential.
Before the moment of decision, however, wisdom is both given as grace and learned as discipline. “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them” (Ps. 111:2). Wisdom personified cries out, “You that are simple, turn in here!” She is a school of learning and an incubator of character. “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine that I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (Prov. 9:4-6). She is a schoolmaster and determined student; she is long hours and a bent neck over ancient texts and solemn mysteries. She is seven pillars and a firm foundation, a storehouse of things both old and new. She is a summons to continual learning and constant review.
She observes times and seasons and the brevity of human life. “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” “Do not be foolish,” she says, “but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). Do not waste days and night in drunkenness and debauchery. Rather, “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). And with the indwelling Spirit arrive psalms and hymns and spiritual songs that give hope and purpose, joy and gratitude. The Spirit sings a melody to the Lord that is holy and reasonable and rooted in the way things are and who God is.
Wisdom has built her house, and it will not pass away. She is the study of years and the grace of every moment. She is bread and wine from heaven that makes one live forever. She is true bread and true drink without which we cannot be, and without which we will not hope. She speaks the language of Jesus. “Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me” (John 6:57). “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed” (Prov. 9:5).
Study the world as it is, and rest in God as he is. Be patient and know that your hour will come. The Spirit will give you utterance and the courage to be and chose what is right.
Look It Up
Read 1 Kings 3:9.
Think About It
An understanding mind is attentive to everything and everyone.