by Bryan Neva
There is a very interesting biblical story about King Solomon (970 - 931 BCE), son of King David and heir to the throne of Israel (1 Kings 1-11, 1 Chronicles 28-29, 2 Chronicles 1-9, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, and Sirach). When Solomon was newly ordained as king but still just a child, God appeared to him in a dream and the Lord offered him anything he wanted. Most people would ask for wealth and a long life to enjoy it, but Solomon instead asked for wisdom so that he could be a good king. God was so pleased with Solomon's choice, that He not only gave him the wisdom he asked for but also rewarded him with wealth and a long life.
In a famous account of Solomon's wisdom, two women came to him to resolve a dispute over which was the true mother of a baby. While they slept, one of the mothers accidentally rolled on her baby and smothered it, so she switched her dead baby for the live baby of the other woman. Solomon ordered that the baby be cut in two and each woman given half. The mother who accidentally smothered her baby agreed with Solomon's solution, but the real mother said no let the baby live and give it to the other woman. Solomon now knew who the real mother was (the woman who showed compassion) and declared her to be the real mother!
Slowly growing wise is what most of us strive for all of our lives. We want to make wise and prudent decisions about our health, choosing a profession or trade, choosing a school, choosing a girlfriend or boyfriend, choosing a spouse, having children, our children's education, our healthcare, buying insurance, choosing transportation, where we'll live, buying a home, our career, our investments, and our retirement. We want to be wise because we know that the choices we make today can mean happiness, prosperity, and a long life for us and our family tomorrow.
In the case of King Solomon, God blessed him with wisdom, wealth, honor, and a long life, but sadly he became foolish and turned his heart away from God and worshiped idols. What good did all of Solomon's wisdom, wealth, and honor do for him? He forgot God who is the giver of all wisdom and wealth!
God certainly doesn't want us to make foolish choices in our lives. In fact, many of the problems people have are because of their own foolish decisions. God wants all of us to be wise and make prudent decisions; and if it's His will, He may bless us with prosperity and a long life too. But He wants us to be wise enough to continue to follow Him and His will for our lives even if that means poverty and a short life. There's absolutely no correlation between wealth and a long life and being in a right relationship with God. Loving God is in fact the beginning of wisdom.
It's much better to be poor, have a short life and be righteous than to be rich, have a long life and be unrighteous. It's much better to be poor and have peace of mind than to be rich and have vexation of mind. It's much better to be poor and continue to love God and your neighbor than to be rich and not love God and hate your neighbor.
The wisdom of the world says be wise so that you can be prosperous and have a long life on this earth; but the wisdom of God says be wise so that you can love God and your neighbor and live forever with God in heaven.