Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 10

1 Kings 3 v 6 to 9

A Wise Decision.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently. I think he was bored so he telephoned me for something to do. Our conversation moved onto vintage and classic cars and he shared with me his theory as to when a car was vintage and when it was classic. I am aware that there are many critical subjects for conversation in today’s society, but the issue of categorising old motor cars appeared to be of great importance to my friend. He was anxious to explain his theory that if a motor car was manufactured before 1950, it is classified as, ‘Vintage’ and any motor car manufactured after 1950 but before 1970, was classified as being, ‘Classic’. (I hasten to point out that this was my friend’s theory and other theories are available).

When I pointed out that I did not entirely agree with his views, he quickly changed the direction of the conversation by saying that regardless of the age of the vehicle, it would be a wise decision to have an engineers report. Of course I could not argue with this opinion because it was to a great extent a common sense approach to buying any motor car, but I pondered over the, ‘Wise’ bit of his statement. What do we actually mean when we say, ‘A wise decision’?

I looked, ‘Wise’ up in the dictionary and discovered that; ‘Wise’ (adjective) is showing experience, knowledge and good judgement. It was debatable as to whether I could apply that to my friend’s theory of vintage and classic cars. In addition if wise is the adjective, then wisdom must be the noun, and does my friend have wisdom?

I looked ‘Wisdom’ up in the dictionary and discovered that; ‘Wisdom’ (Noun), having experience, knowledge, good judgement and the quality of being wise.

Not a great deal of help there, so I applied wisdom to some common phrases and sayings; ‘The wise old owl’, ‘ The wise old sage’, ‘The three wise men’.

I suppose the common denominator could be, ‘old’, so does that mean that wisdom comes with age? This would confirm the need for the experience element of the definition, but the owl only has knowledge of a limited nature, that of survival and reproduction which is not what I would consider as being knowledgeable.

The old sage would fulfil the experience but again the knowledge may be difficult as my impression of an old sage is more like an old hermit or some other solitary figure so knowledge could be limited specific applications.

As far as the three wise men are concerned, was it wise to seek out Herod to find out where a new King had been born?

So who do we consider to be wise and to have wisdom?

I recently watched a series on BBC 4 about great thinkers, Aristotle, Socrates, and Confucus. All these people where great philosophers and thinkers who reshaped the social and political focus of society in their time and some of their thoughts and theories are still accepted and adopted in the world today, but did they have wisdom?

Both Socrates and Aristotle were considered as being too radical for the political powers of their day and were both eventually executed. Confucus became disillusioned and found it difficult to cope with life after the death of his son and died really of a broken heart.

They were all great thinkers and philosophers but do we consider them to be wise?

Confucus tried to help us. He said that, ‘The route to wisdom is through goodness’. So can we add another element to our definition, experience, knowledge and goodness?

My moto is, when in doubt, what does the Bible say? I am instantly guided to 1 Kings 3, and the reign of King Solomon. Although we know that Solomon had great wisdom, he does not fit into our profile of being wise.

Solomon was born wealthy and lived a, ‘Jet setting’, life style. He was as crazy about wheels as any 21st century seventeen year old with a sporty hatch back. Solomon imported chariots from Egypt and horses from Arabia. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines and he came to the throne when he was a young man, so where did his wisdom come from?

We are told in 1 Kings 3 that God visited Solomon in a dream and asked him, ‘What is it that you want me to give you?’ Solomon replied, ‘The gift of Wisdom so that I can rule the nation’.

Solomon could have asked for anything, great wealth, long life, power over his enemies, but he put all these things to one side and asked for wisdom. We could say that it was a wise decision because God gave him wisdom and all the other things that Solomon could have asked for as a bonus.

So that is the answer to our quest. Wisdom is a gift from God. It is not something that we can buy or earn or acquire it is given to us from God to do his work.

Solomon used his wisdom for God, but then he seemed to forget who he was and who God is. We learn from the scriptures that in his old age Solomon worshipped the gods of his foreign wives and the integrity of the covenant between God and his people was put in jeopardy. After Solomon’s death the kingdom crumbled and became divided.

Perhaps our definition of wisdom should change to, ‘The route to wisdom is through righteousness, experience and knowledge of God’. I still don’t agree with my friend’s theory on vintage and classic cars though.

Derek T.