What the Teacher Found
Open Your Bible
Ecclesiastes 7:23-29, 1 Kings 11:1-10, Isaiah 53:6, Romans 11:33-35
BY Erin Davis
I thought I knew him. We spent our whole childhoods in the same one-stoplight town. I recognized his momma, knew what sports he played and what kind of music he listened to, but as I glance back in life’s rearview mirror it’s clear to me: I didn’t know a thing.
It’s taken twenty years of marriage to discover all I didn’t know; things like how he likes his eggs cooked, how his lips turn when he’s sad, and what keeps him awake with worry in the wee hours of the morning. Time and commitment have pressed our knowing past the surface, down into the deepest crevices of our hearts.
Solomon’s quest for knowledge about God was unmatched. With his jaw set and fists clenched, it seems he resolved to be wise. He stacked one fact about God on top of the next, yet a heart of wisdom seemed just out of reach (Ecclesiastes 7:27–28).
In the end, Solomon’s quest to know about God ended in cynicism (v.29) and sin (1 Kings 11:4). In contrast, history remembers Solomon’s father King David as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). While Solomon sought to understand the ways of God, David sought to know the heart of God. The difference in their lives couldn’t have been more stark.
Solomon considered knowing God and bemoaned, “What exists is beyond reach and very deep. Who can discover it?” (Ecclesiastes 7:24). His father, however, marveled, “LORD, you have searched me and known me… Your works are wondrous, I know this very well ” (Psalm 139:1,14). Solomon’s wisdom, it seems, stayed on the surface, while David’s was pressed down into the deepest crevices of his heart.
For all the hours he spent searching and all the ink he spilled teaching, Solomon isn’t the poster child for wisdom. Not really. Instead, he shows us clearly that there’s a difference between knowing about God and actually experiencing Him in relationship, for Solomon’s head knowledge didn’t lead to lasting heart transformation.
How do we avoid Solomon’s mistake, accumulating facts about God like dusty books unread on the shelf? How can we guard against studying wisdom while acting like a fool? We remember this: Wisdom isn’t an item to collect but a Person to be cherished.