Study Guide

1 Kings Wisdom

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"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knoweth himself to be a fool." –Bill Shakespeare, As You Like It

Solomon's wisdom is, of course, legendary. You'll find plenty of ooh-ing and ahh-ing about it throughout the first 10 chapters of 1st Kings, and we have to admit: It sounds like the dude had quite the noggin. And yet it would be a mistake to see Solomon as a straightforward embodiment of pure, godly wisdom. The fact that he falls from grace in the end aside, there are still a few problems with Solomon's wisdom. For starters, is it okay for Solomon to pray for wisdom in the first place? Wasn't it Faust's quest for knowledge that doomed him? Could Solomon have fallen into a similar trap at some point? What good is all that wisdom if you ultimately lose your soul and hamstring your kingdom? Sounds more like wisdumb to us.

Questions About Wisdom

  1. What are some synonyms for "wise" that you think apply to Solomon? Any examples from the text that back up your ideas?
  2. What, if anything, is the difference between the wisdom that God gives Solomon and the wisdom exhibited by Nathan, David, Elijah, and other conventionally wise characters?
  3. Must wisdom always be linked with religiosity or morality? Can one be wise, yet immoral—even villainous?
  4. Can you think of any character—in the Bible, in film, in literature—that could go toe-to-toe with Solomon in a battle of wits (besides this guy)?

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