Tuesday, March 15

Do the Wise Thing

Read 2 Chronicles 1

I started reading the biography of one of my favorite people this morning. He’s a likeable character—flawed, but well intentioned, always moving, always seeking, often stumbling. I love the stuff he has written and his life story completely fascinates me.

He grew up in a terrifically dysfunctional family. The love-child (basically) of a beloved king and a beautiful widow, he assumed the throne upon his father’s death by default. His older brothers pretty much killed each other off or fled the country for their lives. He led his people with heart, passion and wisdom.

King Solomon: writer of three books of the Bible, builder of the Temple for the Name of the Lord, possessor of wisdom greater than anyone else who ever lived, lover of over a thousand women...

Solomon fascinates me because he possessed such great wisdom, but he made so many unwise choices. The paradox puzzles me. Why, when he possessed supernatural wisdom, would a man give himself over to all the stuff he did?

According to scholarly research (as in not mine), Solomon composed his love story while he was a young man, Proverbs in the middle and Ecclesiastes at the end of his life. Through his writings, we see a progression from faithful follower and passionate pursuer to educator and then throughout Ecclesiastes, we see it all come apart. As an act of will, Solomon chose to use the wisdom God graciously gave him to conduct a dangerous experiment. Even though he understood the consequences, he deliberately violated just about every Proverb he penned.

Do you remember that God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden for eating from the tree of Knowledge? Solomon’s entire diet consisted of fruit from that tree. He craved more and more and more. It wasn’t enough for him to know the pursuit of wealth was meaningless. He wanted to experience the consequences. The same thing holds true with the rest of the stuff he knew to be unwise.

We could sit back and shake our heads, analyzing Solomon's life choices, but to do so would mean ignoring the basic truth that we all do the same thing every day.

I ate a pint of ice cream before my Weight Watchers meeting a few weeks ago. And it was delicious. And I knew the consequences would be reflected on the scale. But I was hungry and didn’t know what to make for dinner and it was black cherry and chocolate chip. I knew I would kick myself later. In fact, I kicked myself during, but the desire to experience creamy cold deliciousness overcame my prickling conscience without too much effort. So I ate, I weighed, and I experienced the consequences.

Solomon did it. I do it. My kids do it. We hope that just this one time the consequences won’t apply to us. We hope the scale will miraculously not tell the tale of over indulgence, that coloring on the walls will not result in fire and brimstone, and that worshiping little g gods will not effect our relationship with the one true God.

All this simply proves that knowing the wise thing and doing the wise thing are vastly different. Folly, Solomon calls it, when we don’t do the wise thing. Vanity, he says, when we give in to the easy way.

One more reason I love Solomon. He has the answer to the age old question to the meaning of life. “Now all has been heard. Here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep his commands, for this is the whole duty of mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

So much regret is wound up in these words. Instead of just taking God at His word, Solomon challenged the rules. He wanted to make sure they stood up to scrutiny. They do. They always do. We can trust God. We can know without doing that something is bad for us.

Solomon could have been content with wisdom and knowledge, wealth and a long life. He would have ruled wisely, fairly and been happy. Instead, at the end of his life, he ruled his kingdom wisely, fairly and was sad, defeated and full of regret.

The Word of the Lord holds true, no matter what. Let’s try to remember to know and do the wise thing today.

And  this applies directly to the applesauce muffins sitting on the counter…

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