In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: Whatever you ask I shall give you… Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?” The Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request… I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you – 1 Kings 3:5,9-10,12

At this point in 1 Kings, Solomon’s father, King David, was passing on and had given the throne to his son Solomon. Solomon’s request from the Lord was very pleasing to God for instead of choosing riches and the like, he chose wisdom. Here are some interesting quotes related to Wisdom from the Book of Wisdom:

  1. … learn wisdom and that you may not fall away – Wisdom 6:9

  2. …thus the desire for Wisdom leads to a kingdom – Wisdom 6:20

  3. …honor Wisdom, that you may reign as kings forever – Wisdom 6:21

There are many great quotes further in this book but this suffices. In the book of Wisdom, the gift of wisdom is seen as something that everyone should strive for because wisdom would lead you to know what pleases the Lord God. So it would seem that when one has wisdom, this should greatly aid in their progression towards the Lord and help them to not fall away from the path of righteousness and reign as kings forever. Let’s go back to 1 Kings and take a look at another passage related to Solomon:

When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to follow other gods, and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God, as the heart of David his father had been… Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and he did not follow the LORD unreservedly as David his father had done… The LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and commanded him not to do this very thing, not to follow other gods. But he did not observe what the LORD commanded – 1 Kings 11: 4,6,9-10

After going through 1 Kings and then Wisdom the question arose: How could someone who possessed so much wisdom turn away from God and follow other gods? If we take what we can from the book of Wisdom, it would seem to imply that once wisdom is attained, it will be a great aid to us on our journey towards God. There seems to be a logical explanation for this based on the last passage I quoted from 1 Kings. One line that stands out is 1 King 11:4 where we read that in his old age, his wives had turned his heart to follow other gods. Just for your own knowledge, 1 Kings informs us that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines from various regions, some of them who had worshiped other gods! I believe that though Solomon had possessed great wisdom, the reason for his downfall was that steadily throughout time, he had allowed very small evils to enter in his kingdom (and soul) through his wives and that after a certain time he became overwhelmed by these evils and succumbed to mortally sinning against God.

For Catholics, the obvious parallel I see here for today is around venial sins. Small venial sins are not enough to mortally wound our relationship with the Lord, but when we become engrossed and surrounded by venial sins for too long we begin to increase the chances of falling into mortal sin. Solomon’s folly was that he began to marry wives outside of the Kingdom of Israel and marry strange wives who followed different gods. Perhaps one wife would have not been enough to sway him, but now make that 1000 wives. Whereby one wife may have been weak, 1000 proved to be sufficient enough to make Solomon the wise fall into mortal sin. Had Solomon limited the amount of wives he had and/or constrained himself to marrying only those of Israel, he would not perhaps have fallen. I like this passage because it shows that we need to cleanse ourselves of these venial sins at all times. Mortal sins are very damaging no less but these small, deliberate venial sins can be devastating in the long run as well!

Therefore, I implore you that once you overcome your mortal sins and maintain a state of grace, do not give in to the notion that the battle is won. A different battle is required now and it requires you to eliminate all sin, including venial sins, lest you fall like Solomon and destroy your relationship with the Lord. Even Solomon’s great wisdom proved little to the overwhelming weight of venial sins that eventually ruined his relationship with the Lord. Work on eliminating all sin so that you may always be going down the narrow path towards the Lord. Persevere, pray and continue on.

JM