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The Nourishing Place

Sermon, September 15, 2019

The world today is over loaded with knowledge...facts, data, information in unbelievable amounts.   So says some researchers, knowledge, if we include technical as well as practical,  is doubling every 4 to 6 years.  Education of the future then will be not learning facts, history, literature, etc., but learning how to find out what it is you need to know and want to know….and that involves computers far more then it involves human teachers.

So what is wisdom? Most scholars define wisdom as the ability to know what is true or right, common sense, or the collection of one’s knowledge put to health generating activities.  An example of wisdom is the quote:  the best mind altering drug is truth!  Let that sink in for a moment. 

Wisdom is more valuable than straight knowledge because wisdom is an outcome of a chain of actions...such as learning to know and gain knowledge, knowledge to gain experience, experience to gain understanding, and understanding to gain wisdom. 

Knowledge is the accumulation of data...everything you observe, everything you listen to, everything you read and write gets stored in your memory.  This stored data is just your knowledge.  Wisdom, on the other hand, is the application of that data and information in your daily life.  However, wisdom will not be gain without proper knowledge.
Let’s look at a man who is often considered the wisest person who ever lived...of course that claim is debatable, but let’s spend a minute with Solomon...the 3rd king of Israel.

He was the son of King David and Bathsheba, and he was the 17th of David’s 19 sons.  The oldest living son, Adonijah, was to be king.  However, by the cunning manipulations of Bathsheba and Prophet Nathan, they arranged to have David declare Solomon as king.  Solomon’s 40 year reign over Israel is considered Israel’s golden age.  I was a time of prosperity and national unity. 

But let’s go back a few years.  Solomon was a very young man.  He was at the altar of Gibeon offering extensive sacrifices to God.  Solomon must have fallen asleep because while there he had a dream, a vision.  God said to him, “Ask anything of me and I will grant that wish.”  Solomon responded by saying, “You have favored me by making me King after my father.  But I am a mere youth  not knowing how to act or to lead.  Therefore, give to me, your servant, an understanding heart to judge your people so that I with distinguish right from wrong.”  God was pleased with Solomon’s request and said I give you a heart so wise that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one equal to you.” (I Kings 4:30-32)

Some validation of this claim is that in his lifetime Solomon wrote 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs.  He is credited with writing Proverbs, the Song of Solomon,  the Songs of Wisdom, and editing Ecclesiastes.  Leaders throughout the world came to seek his wisdom and counsel.  One of those persons was the Queen of Sheba. Solomon was a wise statesman who traded with foreign leaders.  These foreign alignments might have been the first sign of trouble for they led to him taking many wives.

Solomon was aware of three warnings found in the book of Deuteronomy.  It commanded kings Not to do these three things:  Do not take many wives for they will lead your heart astray.  Do not multiply your horses for they will lead you to make a huge army.  And do not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.  (Deut 17: 16-17)  Of course, Solomon disobeyed each one of those commands.  True to the commands of what he should not do, Solomon began to worship the pagan gods and goddesses of his wives.  He turned away from his Lord God, and built altars to the foreign gods of his trading partners.

In spite of his disobedience, he was still wise in many ways and helped to solve problems of his people.  Here us just one example of his wisdom.  Two women,who were harlots, came to him.  One woman said, “we live in the same house.  We both gave birth to sons,  At night her son died and she came and took my son and nursed him.    No I did not, claimed the other woman.  It was your son who died.  So Solomon said, Bring me a sword.  When the sword was brought to him he said, “Divide the living child in half and I will give one half to each woman.”  Then one woman said, Oh no do not kill him.  Give him to this woman instead.”  But the other woman said, not divide him in half for he will be neither mine nor yours. Solomon said, “Give the first woman the living child  and by no means kill him. She is his mother.”  When all of Israel heard of the judgment they fearedthe king, for  they saw the wisdom of God was in him to  administer justice.

After that Solomon continued to gather lots of gold and silver and build the temple, buildings, palaces and roads.  He then purchased 12,000 horses and conscripted men to be in his army, though he never fought a war.  And he continued to marry 700 wives and kept 300 concubines...some of whom he never even met.  He married and kept them to gain their property.  God told him because of his disobedience the united kingdom of Israel would be split in two but that would not happen in his lifetime.  So during the reign of his son Rehboam the country was divided with Israel in the north and Judah i the south.

The tale of Solomon is a moral one...and a sad one.  Failing to heed God’s commands and warnings brought destruction to both Solomon and his kingdom.  This story could be the story of any one of us...perhaps not with the opulence Solomon gained.  If we too are not careful to persevere in the ways of our faith and devotion to God’s love and forgiveness, we too might fail as bright, wise, caring people.  Lust, greed, fascination with worldly things and goods, are all human problems and temptations.  When prayer and church attendance is less important to the majority of people in a community, that community is on a downward slide that is hard to reverse.  Where do God’s teachings through the Christ reside in your priorities? How important is it to you to obey God’s commands...do you know better than God?  Have you replaced God’s desire for you with your own desires and wants?
I know I’m speaking to the choir because all of you are good and faithful servants.  But, what about your children and grandchildren what do they really know about obedience and God’s will?  The younger generation of American children could be in danger of losing it all….just like Solomon.  Pray about it.  What can we do?