The United States of America isn’t very united these days. Things are tumultuous and fragile, and many Americans have lost confidence in their system, their leaders, and each other.
If there ever was a time we needed wisdom, it’s now.
A similar situation faced a young monarch about three thousand years ago. His name was Solomon.
Many people in Israel didn’t feel he had the chops to succeed his father. Indeed, many didn’t believe he should be king at all.
According to the Bible, Solomon went to offer sacrifices to the Lord at Gibeon. The Lord appeared to the young king and told him to ask for whatever he wished. Solomon’s response is well known to people of faith everywhere.
After acknowledging God’s faithfulness to his father David and recognizing the honor and responsibility he now had as David’s successor, Solomon continued:
And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
I Kings 3:8–9, KJV
God granted Solomon’s request, bestowing upon him a measure of divine wisdom that allowed him to establish Israel as a preeminent power in the Ancient Near East and amass great wealth and success for himself personally.
How does this benefit us?
Well, Solomon wrote down much of his wisdom in the form of pithy sayings. They are found in the biblical book of Proverbs.
I realize not everyone reading this shares my Christian faith, but few people can question the immense treasure trove of wisdom contained in the book of Proverbs.
And I would hope no one would dispute that we need such wisdom today.
Here are just twelve proverbs from King Solomon that I believe every American — regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion, or background — can benefit from.
These twelve proverbs offer great wisdom for our relationships, career, and personal lives. But I offer them below as guideposts for our approach to the public square as well.
If Americans would take the time to study and reflect on these proverbs and approach the political debate in their spirit and wisdom, we will get through not only the present crisis successfully, but we can count on coming out the other side even better and stronger than before.
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.”
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
“Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.”
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”
“Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
There are many other proverbs that I could have quoted. Indeed, the entire book is relevant to our situation today. But the above twelve can get us started.
I could have provided commentary under each of them, but I’m not trying to “connect the dots” for you. My challenge is that you prayerfully and intentionally contemplate each proverb and discover how it can be applied to our political situation today as well as your approach to that situation.
My hope is people will dial down the rage and turn up the reflection.
And what better place to go for reflection, contemplation, and wisdom than the word of God — and, in this case, in particular, the book of Proverbs.
I pray we will seek out this wisdom before it’s too late.