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WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JANUARY 3, 2022 - Facts and Knowledge? Even better, Wisdom and Faith!

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JANUARY 03, 2022

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are 1 Kings 3:5-12, where the Bible says,   

5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked.

FACTS AND KNOWLEDGE? EVEN BETTER, WISDOM AND FAITH!

Do you know the story of “The Fisherman and the Jinni”[1] as told in the Tales of the Arabian Knights? It’s a story of greed, fear, power, and wisdom. A “powerless” fisherman discovers a bottle amidst his nets and, upon breaking the bottle’s “seal of Solomon,” a “powerful” jinni appears. But the jinni, which some even describe as a demon, does not emerge to grant wishes to one’s master. No, the jinni emerges, freed from his prison to kill his liberator, and get on with his life on his own terms. The only saving hope for the “powerless” fisherman is that he uses wisdom to subdue the jinni. He appeals to the jinni’s pride. The argument from wisdom goes something like this: “How can a jinni be so powerful if he, like one as ‘powerless’ as a lowly fisherman, can’t put himself in a bottle?” In the face of the jinni’s majestic demonstrations of power, his pride demands that he foolishly demonstrate his all-powerful ability to squeeze himself back into the bottle…upon which the fisherman closes it anew and casts him adrift in the ocean again. Wisdom outsmarts pride every time.

I find it interesting that the bottle was sealed with the “seal of Solomon.” Solomon was known throughout the ancient world as an icon of wisdom. His name shows up even in the tales of the Arabian Knights. But the Bible has a position for him that is much higher than merely being a “sage of wisdom” or a “teller of practical tales.” He is the king of Israel, the chosen people from whom the promised Messiah is to come. He prays for wisdom to lead these people well so that they might be a faithful vessel of the promises of God in order that the whole world might come to know and believe in the Messiah from the lineage of David and Solomon who would come to save the world.

Solomon is considered the author of most of Proverbs and of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. And it is true that many of Solomon’s writings provide practical wisdom for daily life. But ultimate wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1:7). And the Bible’s notion of wisdom involves seeking the Lord where He promises to be found on His terms. Solomon blesses the newly built temple of God in 1st Kings 8 where he says,

27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

Solomon’s wisdom ultimately helps us to understand our need for God and then points all sinners to the promises, mercy, and forgiveness that come from the God who came among us so that we can be saved. It’s no wonder that the Apostle John uses the words “tabernacle” and then “temple” to describe the God who came “in the flesh” to save us (see John 1:14; 2:21). It’s no wonder that in Matthew 12:42, Jesus reminds us that in Him someone greater than Solomon is here. And, wonder of wonders, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians that Jesus is God’s wisdom for us, as well as "our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1st Corinthians 1:30).

So, this New Year, pray for wisdom, YES! But pray for the depth of wisdom that comes from knowing the Scriptures and Christ Jesus by faith. Then trust and follow Him in all things. That’s not just practical knowledge to “get us out of a jam” like the fisherman with the jinni; that’s wisdom that opens up eternal life for all who put their trust in Jesus. That’s a “wisdom resolution” for this year that will last more than a lifetime.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give us the wisdom to know our need for You and then to trust You as our Lord and Savior. AMEN.

 [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fisherman_and_the_Jinni

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