Needed: The Wisdom of Solomon

The wisest of all men, according to the Bible, was King Solomon. The Bible says that Solomon became a great leader, because he first sought wisdom. King Solomon’s prayer was, “Give me an understanding mind so that I can govern well.”

Great prayer. But wisdom is not simply received as a gift. One can have a big IQ and a lot of innate intellectual gifts and not have much wisdom. Our educational system is not much centered on generating wisdom. Students regularly emerge from our schools and universities with high Grade Point Averages and enormous test scores, but without much wisdom.

We think that wisdom comes with age. But, one can accumulate many years without acquiring much wisdom. And sometimes young people show astounding wisdom.

Solomon found wisdom, because he sought wisdom. There are plenty of people who find riches, because they diligently seek riches. Plenty of people find fame, because they seek fame. It’s amazing what single minded determination and hard work can accomplish. But what does it mean to seek wisdom, and what is meant by “wisdom,” anyway?

Robert F. Kennedy, at his famous speech at the death of Martin Luther King Jr., quoted the Greek writer Aeschylus: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

It was a Greek idea: One must suffer to be wise. “Pain which cannot forget,” eventually can lead to insight, understanding, a changed point of view.

Of course, there is plenty of suffering in the world that never leads to wisdom. The lash of the slave master might only teach obedience, only teach bitterness or resignation.

The suffering that leads to wisdom is deliberate and conscious suffering. To deliberately stand outside of one’s ego, outside on one’s comfort zone, is to suffer. To enter into another’s point of view is to suffer. To challenge one’s own thinking and assumptions is to suffer.

Abraham Lincoln became a great president, because he had a deep commitment to increase his own understanding. He had a great commitment to compassion. He had a willingness to suffer, a willingness to see other points of view, a willingness to stand outside of his own ego.

Barack Obama, it seems to me, seeks wisdom. He seeks to have “an understanding mind” so that he can govern well. Obama in this campaign has conducted himself with wisdom. America, at this crossroads in its history, is blessed to have such a man ascend to our highest office.

This entry was posted in M Bock, Opinion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *