Category: What is the Wisdom of Solomon?


  In 1 Kings 3:3, Solomon is described in the following positive terms: “Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father.” One night, the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (verse 5). In response, Solomon answered, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (verse 9).

The passage notes, “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this” (1 Kings 3:10). God delights to give wisdom to those who truly seek it (Proverbs 2:6–8; James 1:5). God responds to Solomon’s request for wisdom by promising three different gifts. The first is the wisdom Solomon had asked for: “I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you” (verse 12).

First Kings 4:29-34 records the details of Solomon’s wisdom: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.”

The second gift God gave Solomon was wealth and fame: “I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days” (1 Kings 3:13). Solomon would become known as the wealthiest king of his era.

The third gift God gave him was conditional—a long life based on Solomon’s obedience: “And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:14). After God made these promises, “Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream” (verse 15).

The first two gifts were unconditional. Solomon was known as a man of great wisdom (1 Kings 3:28) and as a king of great wealth and influence. But was Solomon known as an obedient king who experienced a long life? By the grace of God, Solomon reigned for 40 years (1 Kings 11:42), a long period for one king to reign. However, Solomon’s obedience was mixed. He had many wives, including foreigners who influenced him to sacrifice to their gods. His great wealth also contributed to unwise excesses. Solomon began well, as his humble request for wisdom shows, but he later disobeyed God. Solomon was spared more severe punishment for the sake of his father, David (1 Kings 11:11–12).

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The Wisdom of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, is one of the books of the Apocrypha. The others in the group are 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The books of the Apocrypha are accepted primarily by the Roman Catholic Church and are included in Catholic Bibles. The Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books teach many things that are not true and are not historically accurate. The Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals to their Bible at the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s A.D., primarily in response to the Protestant Reformation. None of the apocryphal books are included in the canon of Scripture.

The Wisdom of Solomon was believed by some to have been written by King Solomon, although his name appears nowhere in the text. However, the early church rejected the authorship of Solomon because an ancient manuscript fragment known as the Muratorian fragment refers to the Wisdom of Solomon as having been written by “the friends of Solomon in his honour.” It is widely accepted today, even by the Catholic Church, that Solomon did not write the book, which dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC, many centuries after the death of Solomon.

While Solomon wrote much on the subject of wisdom in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, he never elevated it to the status of part of the Godhead, a philosophy found in The Wisdom of Solomon. The book refers to Wisdom in terms the Bible reserves only for the Messiah, saying “she [wisdom] is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness” (Wisdom 7:26). The book of Hebrews reserves such accolades only for the Son of God, who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). Even more egregious, Wisdom 9:18 says that salvation is an act of wisdom, whereas Scripture is clear that salvation is by faith, a gift of God to those whom He calls, justifies and sanctifies (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 8:30). In fact, if man were to depend upon his “wisdom” for salvation, we would be lost forever with no hope because the unredeemed are dead in trepasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-4) and their minds are darkened (Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14) and their heart deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

The apocryphal books are accepted by the Roman Catholic Church because many of them teach RCC doctrines which are not in agreement with the Bible, including praying for the dead, petitioning Mary to intercede with the Father, worshiping angels, and alms-giving as atonement for sins. Some of what the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals say is true and correct. However, due to the historical and theological errors, the books must be viewed as fallible historical and religious documents, not as the inspired, authoritative Word of God.