Wisdom and Love by Mandi Cooper
37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.Matthew 22:37 (KJV)
We face an incredible number of choices every day. What to wear in the morning, which opportunities to pursue and which to avoid, how to comfort a grieving friend, etc.
Every moment is shaded by decisions, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by their number and consequences and to lose sight of everything else in the pursuit of just figuring out the right thing to do.
This desire for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding is good. Paul encouraged the Ephesians…
15) See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16) Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17) Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.Ephesians 5:15-17 (KJV)
Also, Proverbs exhorts us to “Get wisdom, get understanding…” (Prov. 4:5) And James promises that if anyone lacks wisdom he should “ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (Jas. 1:5)
I am often tempted to think that if I just had enough wisdom, I would always know the right thing to do and I could never fail.
However, as we’ll see in this lesson today by looking at Solomon, David and Jesus, wisdom is just part of the formula. Without a love for God wisdom will only take you so far.
King Solomon felt the same sense of overwhelming choice and shared the hope that wisdom would keep him from stumbling.
When God appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered him anything he desired, the only thing Solomon asked for was wisdom:
7) And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
8) And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
9) Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?1 Kings 3:7-9 (KJV)
God was pleased with Solomon’s choice. So pleased, in fact, that in addition to remarkable wisdom, God granted Solomon all the things he didn’t ask for – wealth, power, and fame.
Solomon became one of the greatest kings Israel has ever known. His kingdom expanded from the Euphrates to Egypt, his coffers took in more than 25 tons of gold annually, and his people prospered.
He was renowned far and wide for his incredible insight and understanding. With wisdom straight from God Himself, Solomon could discern in every moment what was the best choice.“I am often tempted to think that if I just had enough wisdom, I would always know the right thing to do and I could never fail.”
But it wasn’t enough. Solomon may have known what was right, but his heart loved foreign women and their false gods.
He took many foreign wives, built high places to their gods, and encouraged idolatry.
So God burned with anger against Solomon and swore to raise up adversaries against him and to tear all but two of Israel’s tribes from his family once Solomon died.
The last years of Solomon’s reign were marked by trouble, and after his death, Jeroboam led the ten northern tribes of Israel in war against the two southern tribes of Judah, splitting the country and leaving only Judah in the hands of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son.
For all his success, Solomon’s legacy for Israel was civil war, destruction, and an idolatry that Israel couldn’t shake, which ended in exile at the hands of the Persians and Assyrians.
For all his wisdom – even wisdom straight from God Himself – Solomon could not avoid destruction.
King David left quite a different legacy. David did a number of foolish things during his reign.
He sometimes failed to know his friends from his enemies; when his son Absalom was killed while leading a rebellion against him, David publicly mourned instead of showing appreciation to his loyal supporters; and he failed to deal with the rape of his daughter Tamar to avoid conflict with his sons.
But while his actions may have been foolish (and at times evil), David’s reign at every point was marked by a rich and moving love for God.
Read any of David’s Psalms and his yearning for God – for His house, for His word, for His law, for His presence – is unmistakable.“David’s reign at every point was marked by a rich and moving love for God.”
Even when David is being rebuked by Nathan for his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah, David’s focus is on his now-broken relationship with God.
The Bible describes David as a “man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22) and repeatedly God refers to David as “my servant.”
If Solomon’s most defining trait was wisdom, David’s was love for God.
And what was his legacy? David left Israel on a path of obedience. He passed his throne to Solomon with clear instructions to obey God, shared plans to build a temple for the Lord, and taught his people to love and worship Him.
During the long generations of Israel and Judah’s rebellion against God, God repeatedly shows them astonishing mercy “for My servant David’s sake.” (cf. 1 Kings 11:11-13, 32, 34; 2 Kings 8:19; 19:34; Isaiah 37:35)
Not only Israel, but the whole world was blessed through David, for it was through his line that Christ was born.
In Mark 12, Jesus is asked what is the greatest of God’s commandments and He answers with words straight out of Deuteronomy 6:5…
30) And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.Mark 12:30 (KJV)
Of all the hundreds of Old Testament laws, Jesus didn’t choose any of the ones that might tell you the right thing to do in any given moment.
He didn’t choose one of the ceremonial laws, about sacrifices or cleanliness; He didn’t choose one of the laws governing morality, how to treat your neighbor, not to lie, not to steal, not to kill.
Instead He chose as the most fundamental the command to love God, because that is what matters to God most, more than any other right choice we can make.
Paul said it in 1 Corinthians 13, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away… And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:8-13)
As we’re facing the endless number of decisions arising each day, struggling to discern what is right, let us not lose sight of this: that the thing God values most isn’t whether we made exactly the right choice in each moment, but whether our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strengths were bent on Him.
Pray for wisdom and seek after understanding, but most of all love God Himself. Let it color everything you do and He will take care of the rest.
4) One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.Psalm 27:4 (KJV)
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