Is Wisdom a Guarantee for Success?

“King Solomon was wiser when he was young than when he was old.”   Dr. Ron Smith

Considering Solomon to be a major contributor to the book of Proverbs is a sobering thought.

Solomon is famous for asking for wisdom when God granted him any wish. He received great wisdom, loved the Lord (1 Kings 3:3), and even had God appear to him twice! (1 Kings 3;5, 9:2)

But right before his love for God was recorded, we see him entering into a marriage alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt. This was the beginning of the end for Solomon, culminating in 700 wives and 300 concubines.

How could a man with so much experience with God and wisdom, end up this way?

I’ve recently had the privilege of teaching the book of Proverbs. Here are a few things we can learn from the fact Solomon had wisdom but failed to finish well.


Wisdom a guarantee of nothing.  This is so clear in the life of Solomon. He had the wisdom, but somewhere along the way lost what Proverbs calls the “fear of God.” This is a hatred of evil, a desire for obedience, and a general willingness to follow God. He had wise principles but poor application and faithfulness.

Wisdom is still true even without a fear of God. The truth comes from God, not man. So when man fails, the wisdom remains.

We have seen this play out multiple times in our lives. We all know of pastors or leaders with thriving ministries touching people’s lives. Later we find out they were living a sinful lifestyle while speaking the truth. The Word still has the power to change, even if the vessel is corrupt. Lest we begin pointing the finger or arguing too much, we must remember that God uses us to speak truth as well.  We are equally broken vessels.

Wisdom is not only found in the faithful, but also the unfaithful. Do we as the church believe we can only receive wisdom from within the church? Each time we go to a doctor, who is not a believer, we are relying on the wisdom of “the world.” Thank God for the wisdom of medicine that saves lives.

“Worldly” wisdom may be true if it lines up with Scripture.
I recently was teaching on leadership at a church course. When we did some personality tests and spiritual giftings, one participant got frustrated. “I left the corporate world and don’t want to hear this stuff in church!” If corporate or any kind of “wordly” wisdom violates the Word of God we reject it. But if we can learn economics, science, strategy and the like by some of the premier practitioners in their field, we should do it. Paul quoted philosophers and often drew on his extensive “pre-Christian” learning when he saw it matched God’s truth.

Proverbs is a great example of God wanting influence all of life. There are few religious mentions in the book such as temple, sabbath, or sin offerings. What is spoken of is truth in the areas of family, relationships, economics, and even science and technology.

A Hebrew worldview would see all of life as spiritual, not just the “religious parts.”

Solomon failed in many of these “non religious” activities and finished his life as a fool, one who is acting inconsistent with who God is.

Let’s learn from both Solomon’s wisdom and his lack of fear of God. In doing so, we can be called wise.

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