Seeking Wisdom

Looking back over this past year I have realized I have become really cynical, really jaded, regarding those who are in positions of authority in our country. Not necessarily with those whose vocation gives them an authoritative role, like police officers or lawyers or teacher or doctors, no, I mean the elected officials, the party line pundits who are front and center every time the cameras roll for the latest update to the newest crisis gripping our nation. Now, I love this country. I am proud to be an American, but I cannot stand listening to our politicians anymore. It is really becoming a problem. I did not used to be this way. I used to think if my guy won and yours lost, I had come out ahead. But it just does not seem like that anymore. It feels like it does not matter who wins, and it is always a choice of the lesser of two evils. Even if I can stomach the grandstanding and the obvious pandering for votes, it does not seem as if anyone possesses any real wisdom regarding what is best for the country.

Wisdom, wisdom is what is in short supply, or at least those who seem to possess wisdom are not promoted up the ladder to any level of consequence. But what do we mean when we speak of wisdom? Wisdom must be something more than just agreeing with me, is it not? I certainly hope so. The definition of wisdom is, “Knowledge gained through life experience.” Which is why we usually ascribe wisdom to older people. They have the experience to become wise. Yet, there is more to it than that, or at least we can flesh it out a little bit more. Scripture speaks of wisdom in the same way as it does the ability to discern between good and evil. Therefore, wisdom is measured off a truth which is bigger than the feelings of the individual or the ethos of the moment. Wisdom makes decisions grounded on a truth greater than itself.

No wonder it feels as if there is a complete loss of wisdom in our days, especially among those who are seeking the votes of the masses. For discernment founded on truth is not what people really want, and it is not how you are going to get elected. Discernment means saying some things are right and some wrong. There is a definitive “yes” and “no.” But in our day we need the flexibility to shift and reform what we know as right and wrong. I mean, who would have thought 10 years ago that our children would be taught gender itself is a social construct? Not the concept of sexual orientation or family structure but gender. It is as if we have lost our mooring that tethered us to reality. Of course, wisdom is still found in our conversations with friends and family. It is hinted at when we try and make sense of the world around us. But when we look up, when we look to those above us, our leaders, where is the wisdom?

When David, the great king of Israel, died, his son Solomon was established as the king. He came to power and under his rule Israel would experience the greatest years of expansion and security. But at the beginning of his reign, he does something that would seem absurd to our modern-day leaders. The Temple in Jerusalem was not yet built and so the people of God had been offering sacrifices in the high places. Solomon went to the city of Gibeon to offer sacrifices there and as he slept at night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what I shall give you.” God will bless this young king. He will grant him what he desires so his rule might be prosperous, and the people of God might thrive. And what is it that Solomon asks for? We usually say he asks for wisdom. But what he actually says, his actual request is that the Lord would give to His servant an understanding mind to govern His people, that he may discern between good and evil.

Now this request shows humility, another trait I find in short supply among our leaders today. See, Solomon did not presume he could do the job on his own. He knew he could not rightly divide the truth with his current ability. He would make a mess of things and so he seizes this opportunity to ask God for the ability to discern between good and evil. In return for this humble request God blesses Solomon in spades. He gives him far more than he asked for. God says, “Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:12-14).

God gives more than Solomon asked. He gives riches and honor and the promise of a long life. And He gives what he asks for as well, he gives the discernment he longed for, and that gift of discernment is called wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. It is the means of dividing between good and evil. It is how we know the truth and reject falsehood. Wisdom is the way through the muck and the mire of the chaos of our age. Later, Solomon will write that, “The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). And it is here that the story of Solomon becomes such good news for us. For the wisdom given to Solomon is the wisdom given to you as well. For the wisdom which divides good and evil, the wisdom that directs us on our path, that wisdom flows from the mouth of God. That wisdom is the Word of God, and the Word of God has become flesh and dwelt among us. This means the Wisdom of God bore your sins, died in your place, and rose for your justification.

God gives far more than we ever asked for. We want comfort and guidance, peace and security. We want assurance and hope. We want wise leaders who divide between good and evil, and He gives you so much more. He gives you His living Word. He gives you Himself to speak the truth in love, to be compassionate and kind, to forgive and live out the simple joys of life. He gives a light that shines in the darkness, that the darkness cannot overcome, that shines for you and for your children and grandchildren. He gives you the promise of redemption, the hope of eternal life. He gives eternal Wisdom washed over your head and placed in your mouth and echoing in your ears.

Here is the thing, I can shake my head at the talking heads who seek to direct our country. I can get overcome with my cynicism and doubts. But right here in the midst of it all I have been given the Word of God. I possess divine wisdom. And so do you! This wisdom divides, clearly and without hesitation it proclaims the truth with a capital “T.” The truth is you are sinners. You have sinned against your God in thought, word, and deed. You have pretended your desire rules over the truth, that you can shape reality how you want. But God calls you out. He shows your corruption and brings you to your knees in repentance. You are all reduced to empty handed beggars by the Word of God. You have nothing to claim on your own, no ground upon which you can stand before your God.

But the Wisdom of God will not leave you alone, it will not abandon you to despair and sorrow. For Wisdom has done what you could not. Wisdom empties out your hands so He might fill them to overflowing with His gifts, His mercies, His love, and His forgiveness. Wisdom has found us while we were foolish and weak and sinful through and through. Wisdom proclaims to you that you are forgiven those sins, you are secure in His promises. So, you now can speak this wisdom to others. You can proclaim it to your friends and families, to your neighbors and anyone who will hear. Wisdom is what the world desperately needs, and wouldn’t you know it, it is exactly what you have been given.