Christmas 2 “Wisdom”
January 5th, 2019 – 1 Kings 3:12
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
This morning, to start off the new year, we are going to hear about wisdom. Let us start the year working to be wiser and better. So let us do a little study of wisdom. What is wisdom? What makes wisdom unique? What is it and how can we obtain or lose it? Wisdom is something someone can possess, and it is something we can use.
Have you ever heard of the saying to help understand, and remember, the difference between knowledge and wisdom? Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is actually a fruit and not a vegetable. Wisdom, on the other hand, is knowing not to put a tomato into a fruit smoothie.
Wisdom is the ability to discern and to make good judgements with the knowledge you have been given.
There is a biblical understanding of wisdom in a deeper more cosmic sense too. The book of proverbs describes Wisdom as a person – lady wisdom. This lady wisdom is more than a person – she can tell us what wisdom is yet is also wisdom itself.
With this deep understanding of wisdom Proverbs expands this idea of wisdom being this universal force that is sewn into the universe by God Himself. When one follows wisdom, such as the wisdom found in proverbs, one can expect to receive good results. This is like the concept we think of when people talk about ‘Karma.’ Do good and get good. Do bad get bad. We see and can experience this in life too which helps us to believe that it is a real force that exists. The word ‘Karma’, though; in relation to where it comes from in the Hindu religion is very different than this biblical understanding of wisdom.
We hear about this force of wisdom but also know that it is not as perfect of a set up as we would like. The books of Job and Ecclesiastes talk about all the exceptions in this broken world to how wisdom does not always work out.
This all in turn leads us back to complete dependence on the one who is over everything and ordering it all and has a plan for our lives.
It is this understanding of wisdom which leads us to be both in fear and awe of the God who is over it all. The book of Proverbs does begin by telling us the “Fear of Yahweh is the beginning of Wisdom” (Prov. 1:7).
It seems like this is a good place for us to start on our own journey’s of how to live wise lives. “Fear of the Lord.” Let us also look at some good examples of the wisest people in history too.
King Solomon, who was the son of the great King David, and our third King – the third King of God’s people – once was asked what he wanted by God, as a gift from God. Solomon was given, as we translate it into English ‘Wisdom.’ The exact wording of Solomon’s request as we have it recorded is slightly different than that. Hebrew is a very old language and often has a more physical root to some of the abstract concepts we have words for. The actual wording of what Solomon was given was a “hearing heart.” The concept of wisdom here is directly connected to the idea of having a heart that hears. Hears what? Likely hears things for what they are, but most importantly, hears God.
The discernment in making decisions that follows comes from basing decisions off having a heart that hears God. A heart that makes decisions off God’s judgement and not its own.
It pleased God that Solomon asked for this instead of other things and God gave Solomon great wisdom that no one before had ever had or would ever arise to have after him.
Solomon was given a gift of God of immense Wisdom, a hearing heart, which listened to God and was used to become an immensely good and powerful ruler. Unfortunately, even Solomon in all his wisdom had a heart which turned away from God and worshipped other gods – he had a heart which found comfort and pleasure in other things above Yahweh.
Perhaps even us, if we had all the wisdom of Solomon, would not be able to use that wisdom to be truly wise and stay faithful to our heavenly Father. If Solomon could not, what would make us any different? Wisdom is good, but we are so broken, we are so fundamentally detached from God that even with all the wisdom in the world – a hearing heart, a fear of the Lord – we still would not be able to use wisdom to its fullest.
It seems that all hope is lost. If no one can arise after Solomon who can be as wise then no-one has a hope of truly working this cosmic system of Wisdom – no one can truly get good because no one can truly do the good needed to receive good.
Yet, just when all hope seems lost, we read about a young boy who has wisdom and the favour of God upon Him. We hear about a young boy who speaks greater wisdom and understanding to the wisest of all who study God’s words than even they can muster.
We hear about a boy who seems to have wisdom greater that Solomon. How can this be? No one can rise after Solomon who will be wiser than Him?
Here is where the fun starts with this boy we read about in the Gospel lesson. Here is where our minds can be blown. This boy did not come before Solomon and He did not come after. This boy IS Wisdom itself (1 Cor. 1:24) . This boy IS God. This boy, Jesus, is the only one true enough and pure enough to take advantage of the cosmic wisdom God has sewn into the universe and is able to get full goodness because He can live full goodness.
And the great news for us is that this boy did not live a perfectly good life and take all the good for Himself. This boy grew up and lived in perfect wisdom and submission to God for us. This boy made the whole system of good and evil and cosmic justice explode with goodness. Because instead of taking the goodness for Himself He took the evil we deserve and gave us back good. He gave us back forgiveness. He gave us back life with Him forever.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this knowledge of this boy is the great epiphany God has shown to us. This epiphany is the Greatest Wisdom because it leads us to be free from our selfish desires of right and wrong and to lean on God’s understanding because our desires are satisfied in Christ. We are free from the burden of looking after ourselves so we may look after each other. We are free in Christ to lead truly wise lives, not because we are scared of the bad that may come from being unwise, but because we know of the good that is coming to us. We know that because of Jesus the dead have life.
The greatest wisdom ever shown to us was in Wisdom Himself, Jesus Christ, coming down for us. The second greatest wisdom ever was seen in Solomon and that wisdom was given by God Himself.
May the true wisdom of God – the epiphany of God’s wrath and love for us sinners – be what we continue on into this new year with.
May the fear and love of our great and mighty God who died and rose for us be the greatest wisdom we both know and live.
In Jesus name,