The text for this week is 1 Kings 3:4-9, (10-15), 16-28. Commentary at Working Preacher is here.
Our focus this week is the wisdom of Solomon, both how he acquires it, and how he dispenses it. My favorite illustration of this in popular culture (although 20 year old popular culture) is this scene from Seinfeld.
What if Solomon had answered God’s imperative, “Ask what I should give you?”, with something other than “wisdom”. What if Solomon had said, “all the money in the world”, or “fame”, or “tacos every day”?
Would God have granted the ask?
Before I was a pastor, or a youth director, I was a History major in college. And I studied folk tales, and how the way folk tales changed over time revealed something about the culture that did the changing. This story of Solomon reminds me of the “magic wish” folk tale, which has many variants. In some of them, a poor person is granted wishes and they often ask for enough food for each day. In others, a woodcutter is granted wishes, but ends up back where he started at the end, and thankful for the life he already had.
How would that folk tale play out today? If I were to ask kids today what they’d wish for (or adults, for that matter, but I’m thinking of a Time with the Children story), I suspect wisdom would not be the answer. My kids might ask for season tickets to their favorite NBA team or English Premier League soccer team. Or maybe they would ask for money. Or for more wishes. Many adults in the pews might want to win the billion dollar powerball lottery. Or to pay off debt. Or for health for them or a loved one. Or a change to the political leadership in their country (ahem, that might be mine).
Would we ask for wisdom?
How will you define wisdom for your congregation?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7) The book of Proverbs personifies wisdom and she is one of the main characters throughout that book.
The book of Job claims that wisdom is God’s. “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are God’s”. (Job 12:13)
In Matthew’s gospel, the wise man builds his house on rock. (Matt 7:24)
Where is your sermon taking you this week? Add your ideas here.
It’s also Reformation Sunday, which is worth noting for some of us. (I’m mindful of a wise friend who once said “we don’t celebrate schism in the body of Christ”, so we will mark it, even if we don’t “celebrate” it).
And All Saints will be in the week that follows. Will you include that? Or have it be it’s own service midweek?
Marci Auld Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church and lives with her husband and sons in Boise, Idaho. She is a graduate of Trinity University and Columbia Theological Seminary. She serves on the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood and the Mission Agency Board of the Presbyterian Church USA. Marci blogs at Glass Overflowing and is among the contributors to the RevGals book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).
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