Updated: Jun 20
Solomon is credited with writing a significant chunk of the wisdom literature in the Old Testament. This should come as no surprise since God blessed Solomon with Wisdom. You can read the story about it in 1 Kings 3:1-15.
How should we understand The Books of Solomon and what does the wisdom of Solomon contribute to our reading of the Bible today?
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The Books of Solomon are commonly understood to be Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs and while these are largely attributed to him it is not entirely clear whether Solomon himself wrote them down.
As suggested in the video, these books pick up on a biblical theme we have already discussed in this series. Specifically, the choice offered to mankind at creation and throughout the movements of history recorded in the Bible; Will we trust in God’s wisdom and enjoy the blessing that it brings, or will we trust in our own wisdom? Let’s see what Solomon can teach us.
The Book of Proverbs is primarily a collection of wise sayings. Many of these are not unique to Scripture and can be found in other ancient texts as well. In Proverbs, Solomon has compiled them, almost certainly added some of his own, and likely improved on others of value.
It can be argued then, that Proverbs records the best of human wisdom. All the stuff that we’re able to observe or intuit from a divinely ordered creation and our experience of it. It’s the stuff which has been proven across time and cultures to enrich our lives and our relationships if it’s understood and applied well.
However, as the teacher will show us in Ecclesiastes, the best of human wisdom is still just hevel or vapor. Ultimately, it will not satisfy us. The teacher argues that this is because the best of human wisdom is only a shadow of the wisdom of God. God’s wisdom does infinitely more than just enrich our lives and relationships, it perfects them, and we were designed to live in relationship with His wisdom. This point is driven home in the teacher’s conclusion; “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (Eccl. 12:13)
Song of Songs explores the relationship between us and God’s wisdom by using vivid imagery to describe a passionate romance between two lovers. Song of Songs is intended to show us that only in the passionate embrace of God’s wisdom will we find our ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment.
I think Proverbs 9:10 serves as a helpful key to the wisdom of Solomon. In it we read that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This captures the essential components of Solomon’s teaching in the concepts of fearing God and being in relationship with Him.
The lesson here is that ultimately, it’s God who knows how all the pieces of His creation and of us fit together. It would be wise for us to trust His wisdom as we live our lives under the sun.
Side Note: Notice that in Song of Songs, it’s wisdom which pursues us. For me, this is a picture of the whole redemptive story of the Bible. In our brokenness and rebellion, it’s God who pursues us and makes it possible for us to be in relationship with Him. Now that’s good news.