Bible Study: The Wisdom Writing of King Solomon

2.16.2012

Consider: Why do people sing?

Part 1

As I have come to study Kings, the lives of Israel’s first three kings and the life of Solomon, I have wondered about the man Solomon; what clues has he left for us to understand him by?

First, I stayed within the parameters of Kings, and then I began to wonder about the wisdom that is attributed to Solomon. 1 Kings 4:29-34 relates how vast and impressive Solomon’s wisdom is, (V30)

Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East,

and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.

So, I did some more research and I read: Song of Solomon, Psalms 72 and 127 and Ecclesiastes.

For a king, he is rather diversified, not only a ruler, but a visionary and project manager, a literary figure, and religious devotee, etc…

Kings do not walk about The United States. The United States does not have an image of a king in its psyche, our volkgeist is not attached to regality, or a royal family. We do not have coronations, royal weddings, or royal christenings.

We vote and we live with the consequences.

The only image I have of a “king” is a philosophical impression created by the father of Western thought, the Greek philosopher, Plato. He gives students of philosophy the Philosopher-king (The Republic, books V-VII).

I know from my Confucian studies, that a king, an emperor, is the mediator between heaven and earth. That the condition of the kingdom is reflective of the condition of the emperor’s soul; the soul of the kingdom is the soul of the emperor.

I can think of kings as rulers, as symbolic and as power, but I have never thought of a king as a singer, or as musical.

We are told that Solomon wrote hundreds of songs, there are two given us in Psalms, 72 and 127.

Psalm 127 over-shadowed everything I studied about Solomon for this week.

But first, let’s look at 1 Kings 5-6.

Part 2

1 Kings 5

  • Solomon joins with another king, Hiram, King of Tyre, to collect timber and stone for the temple
  • V1-9 (read)
  • V10-18 describes the activity and compensation

 

1 Kings 6 Descriptions of the Temple

  • V11-31 (read)
  • In the West, we don’t really have temples, we have church buildings and cathedrals. There are some synagogues and mosques, but they are not common.
  • Do you have temples where you live; are they significant, why? (Discuss)
  • Why is it significant for Israel to have this temple? (Discuss)

 

These passages are to me, the reflection of the wisdom of Solomon; how he expressed it.

Authorship of Ecclesiastes is attributed to King Solomon. Page611

  • 1:1-18 Meaningless: toil, generations, days, time, desire, stuff, honor, family, history, wisdom; ALL CHASING AFTER THE WIND!
  • 2:1-9 To have and do everything is empty.
  • 4:1-8 Everything and everyone is doomed…

Pretty honest versifying for a guy who had everything, but remember what his dad told him. His dad King David said,

I am about to go the way of the whole earth.

(page 305, 1 Kings 2:2)

Death: the great equalizer of all men. This is wisdom that a father and king passed on to his son, the next king.

This reminds of one of my favorite songs, “Against the Wind”, by Bob Seger:

The years rolled slowly past

And I found myself alone

Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends

I found myself further and further from my home

And I guess I lost my way

There were oh so many roads, I was living to run and running to live

Never worried about paying or even how much I owed

Moving eighty miles a minute for months at a time

Breaking all of the rules that would bend

I began to find myself searching

Searching for shelter again and again
Against the wind…

A little something against the wind

I found myself seeking shelter against the wind…

See the young man run

Watch the young man run

Watch the young man runnin’

He’ll be runnin’ against the wind

 Let the cowboys ride Let the cowboys ride

They’ll be ridin’ against the wind

Against the wind …

What are your thoughts on Ecclesiastes? (Discuss cultural impressions…)

Part 3

Authorship of Song of Songs is also attributed to King Solomon. What do we know about this song? Is it much different than K-pop (Any current pop song)? (Read a few verses) These are the #1 pop songs in our countries:

Top Song in:

  • Korea   Lovey-Dovey                           T-ara

It’s so cliché
Again today I am alone
I’m so bored
Eventually this day will
Woo
Just pass by like this…
Look, look, look at those passing by couples
I can love like that too but
Woo
I’m so lonely…
Me too, lovey dovey, dovey uh uh uh uh
Lovey dovey dovey uh uh uh uh
Don’t leave me alone now
Now lovey dovey dovey uh uh uh uh
Lovey dovey dovey uh uh uh uh
Where are you?

  • India    I Know You Want Me                Pitbull

I know you want me, want me
You know I want cha, want cha
I know you want me
You know I want cha, want cha
I know you want me, want me
You know I want cha, want cha
I know you want me
You know I want cha, want cha
(Ha ha ha)

  • USA     Stronger                               Kelly Clarkson

You know the bed feels warmer
Sleeping here alone
You know I dream in colour
And do the things I want
You think you got the best of me
Think you had the last laugh
Bet you think that everything good is gone
Think you left me broken down
Think that I’d come running back
Baby you don’t know me, cause you’re dead wrong…

If Solomon was alive today, he might say, Oh baby, baby, oh baby baby, oh baby baby…

Or as Shakespeare once said, Love is a kind of madness.

Part 4

But it’s Psalm 127 that struck me as profound. (Read: page 571)

  • V1

Unless the Lord builds the house, its laborers labor in vain.

 

vanity, vanity… Where have we heard this before?

  • V2

In vain you rise early and stay up late,

Toiling for food to eat—

For he grants sleep to those he loves.

 

This reminds me of Ecclesiastes, toiling everyday; vanity, vanity…

  • V5

Blessed is the man

Whose quiver is full of them (sons).

They will not be put to shame

When they contend with enemies at the gate.

(Show movie clip of Preliator, a Roman invasion, what enemies at the gate looks like!)

This song seems to summarize Solomon’s wisdom, or at least how he feels about life. I can imagine him watching the temple being built, and struggling with the vanity of human endeavors.

This song was sung, maybe by Solomon himself. I think the lyrics are revealing, showing his struggles with human existence and many perils; his heart was burdened with watching people struggle every day. He carried these burdens and trusted God to sustain humanity until salvation was fulfilled.

Why do people sing? Singing expresses the hardships and hopes we have, as well as the madness of romance and pleasure.

 Part 5

(Closing: read last paragraph of Bakin Bread)

“And all this—the putting together, the eating, the contentment that follows—seem both useful and good. However, now and then, when putting together sourdough seems too lengthy, I have moments of doubt. As long as I shop in the supermarket between the airport and home, knowing full well that an empty fridge will greet me, I pause at the bread shelves and heft one of the ‘health’ selections. A grand loaf to be sure. Just read the ingredients:  ‘whole wheat flower, soy flour, graham flour, raisins, sunflower, seeds, safflower oil, honey,…’ On and on goes the list. I bring the loaf close to my nose. The smell is delicious, and I know the taste will be similar. What’s more, I’d have toast in the morning instead of a bowl of bubbling sour dough starter, hours away from its finished form.

Still most days, I return the well-wrought loaf to the shelf. In the end, or rather, in the beginning, it comes down to the putting together. Alone in the silent morning house—the radio off, the telephone unplugged, the cat purring figure-eights around my ankles while I rock back and forth, wrist-deep in dough—I know what He knew along the first river, working with dedication and without hurry, for an audience of one.”

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