Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

August 1, 2010


We need more than the wisdom of Solomon to finish well


          I have learned some valuable lessons from old people. From my youth I was taught to respect my elders. That was good advice because old people have a lot of wisdom to share with those who will listen.

There are many wise people in the Bible from whom we can learn. Solomon, for example, was so wise that his name is synonymous with wisdom. His life is worthy of serious reflection. We can learn wonderful lessons by “listening” to Solomon’s teachings, and we can learn from his example.

        Solomon was just a boy when he was made king of Israel. Historians are not sure of his age when his father, King David, died. He may have been as young as 12, but not more than 20. Obviously David was a tough act to follow. He had established quite a reputation as a great king.

        Solomon quickly won favor with the people. His attitude was rather stunning for a king. He admitted that he was but “a little boy” who hardly knew his way in and out of the house. So he asked God for understanding, the wisdom to rule well and to discern the difference between good and evil.

        His request was made in response to a question he felt God was asking him, “What do you want me to give you?” What Solomon did not ask for is impressive. He did not ask for a long life or wealth. Nor did he ask for the death of his enemies. He asked for one thing: an understanding heart.

        The Bible says that God was pleased and gave him what he asked for. In addition God gave him wealth and honor, promising him that “in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.” So, richly blessed by God, Solomon ruled for some 80 years. He built the great temple that his father had wanted to build, as well as a splendid palace for himself.

        If you want to examine Solomon’s wisdom, read the Book of Proverbs in the Bible. Jesus was so impressed with Solomon’s good judgment that he quoted him more than once. Here is one saying that Jesus found worthy of reiterating:

        “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; it is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman” (Proverbs 25:6-7).

        I offer these sayings as delightful examples of Solomon’s wise insights:

        “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”

        “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

        “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

        “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

        “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”

        This is one of my choice favorites:

        “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

        Solomon had great wisdom, wealth, power, and influence. Yet his life ended in disgrace. What happened? Simply this, he became overly impressed with himself. He must have thought he was smarter than God. Perhaps his kingly power intoxicated him to the extent that he believed he did not have to follow the rules he believed other men should live by.

        Instead of following God’s advice about women, Solomon made his own rules and did what he pleased. His is the story of a man who had it all, but lost it before crossing the finish line. He was wise, but ultimately he became very foolish.

        If, as someone has said, all you have left at the end of the day are your name and your reputation, then Solomon is to be pitied. He had a listening heart, an understanding mind, for most of his life, but he stumbled and fell near the end of the race.

        That raises the question: will it matter that we had fame and fortune if along the way we lose the wisdom to finish well? My longtime friend Roy Jordan told me recently that before he retired, he resolved to everything possible “to finish well.” I feel sure the good Lord helped Roy to do just that – to finish well.

        What you have left at the end of the day is far more important than what you have along the way. Choose to do the noble thing, the right thing, every day until your last breath. And don’t hesitate to ask the Lord for the grace we all need to finish well life’s race. +