Dispatch Two Hundred Thirty-One

Posted: November 14, 2016 in Forty-Seventh Bundle
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1 KINGS 2:10-12; 3:3-14

10 Then David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. 11 And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father; only, he sacrificed and burnt incense at the high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings upon that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “Thou hast shown great and steadfast love to thy servant David my father, because he walked before thee in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward thee; and thou hast kept for him this great and steadfast love, and hast given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.And thy servant is in the midst of thy people whom thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?”

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, 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. 13 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. 14 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.”

Talk about hitting the jackpot! The young King Solomon asked only for wisdom, and was granted wealth, honor, and the prospect of a long life as well. Solomon’s name is derived from the root-word meaning “peace,” and his reign from the throne of Israel was indeed the most peaceful on record. This particular version of the “Three Wishes” that is common in the folk traditions of world cultures is intended to help the reader, and not just Solomon, sift through our mixture of urges and desires for that one thing (or three) we hold in the highest priority.

In most all of the stories the world round, wisdom does in fact top the list, with honor next in descending order, followed by wealth and personal gain, with pleasure at the bottom. There is obvious wisdom in such a hierarchy of life aims, and so it’s perfectly understandable that wisdom itself should be the highest of them all.

We would do well to pause for a moment and consider what our personal hierarchy of life aims would be, or is. Is our value system centered on hedonism, or the experience of pleasure? Or is it centered on capitalism and the accumulation of wealth? Perhaps our values turn around a life focused on moral achievement and social acclaim, what we might name heroism. Finally (staying with the list of four) do our aims in life orient around a deeper wisdom of how our lives fit within the greater whole?

Hedonism, capitalism, heroism, and holism: where are you?


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