Reading: 2 Chronicles 1
Solomon is renown for his wisdom. One can study the book of Proverbs in order to discover the key to his wisdom, or one might merely study 2 Chronicles in order to learn it. In fact, the key to Solomon's wisdom is found right here in the 1st chapter, as confirmed throughout the book of Proverbs. In response to the offer from the Lord, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (2 Chronicles 1:7), Solomon prays,
“9Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 11God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” (2 Chronicles 1:9-12)
I can remember this story from my childhood (today I turn 49, so that was a long time ago). It has always stood out as one of the great heart tests of a man in scripture. It is certainly intended for us as both an example and a statement of value. The obvious contrast here is one that sets God's wisdom and knowledge over against wealth, riches, honor, and long life. This morning I noted another, less obvious, but equally as important aspect of Solomon's request: humility. Solomon's wisdom is rooted in humility.
Why do I say that? Because at its root, this request reveals that Solomon did not assume he had the wisdom and knowledge resident in himself to lead the people effectively. He didn't think of himself as a great king. He understood what he lacked. Solomon demonstrates for us right here in 1 Chronicles 1:10 what the book of proverbs keeps front and central throughout: Real wisdom comes in living our lives in utter dependence on God. Real wisdom is available to those who recognize their foolishness, while those who are wise in their own eyes, are fools.
If Solomon had been wise in his own eyes, he would have asked for riches, honor, or one of the other things on the list in vs. 11. However, Solomon saw his lack of wisdom, and that insight was essential to connecting him to the source of his wisdom. As he writes in Proverbs 11:2,“with humility comes wisdom.”
We might say that Solomon's humility was the beginning of his wisdom. Of course, we know that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” yet in Proverbs, humility is nearly equal to the fear of the Lord. If “the fear of the Lord” was a coin, the other side of the coin, would be labeled, “Humility.” (See Proverbs 15:33 where the parallelism places them in equal positions. Also Proverbs 22:4.) So that to say, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and to say, “with humility comes wisdom” are to say the same thing from different angles. Tremper Longman wrote,
“Humility comes from a healthy fear of Yahweh. Those who fear Yahweh know that they are not the center of the universe. They are not 'wise in their own eyes.'”
Solomon displays this posture of the heart in his prayer for wisdom. What is the posture of your heart? Is it a posture of desperate dependence on God? Do you find yourself asking for wisdom? James 1:5 invites us with the same promise that Solomon had to ask and receive this wisdom. If we are not asking it is likely that we don't perceive our own need as Solomon did his. Solomon saw his foolishness, the fool always sees his own wisdom (Proverbs 12:15; 26:12, 16). What about you? If you lack wisdom, ask! God freely distributes it to fools who know they need it!
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