There’s always a sequel. Last week, we brought the story of David to a close, but this week we see his son, Solomon, take the throne. We’ll spend a couple of weeks with Solomon and then move into some wisdom literature. So maybe it’s more a coda than a sequel.
You may recall that Solomon chose wisdom from God and so God gave him wisdom, prosperity, and long life. The thinking is that one who chooses wisdom will be able to handle the prosperity and long life. That one will be a gift to the world rather than a burden. That one will take us into a better world.
Solomon’s gifts are reputed to be many. In addition to being a legendary ruler, perhaps the wealthiest and most virile the world has ever seen, he is reputed to have written the bulk of wisdom literature found in the Bible. He is credited with Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, many Psalms, the Song of Songs, and the Wisdom of Solomon. These books range widely in style and outlook, from the clever quips of Proverbs to the existential weight of Ecclesiastes. It would be a fertile mind indeed to have produced them all.
Of course, he probably did not write them. Again, we see the gloss of memory. Solomon begins his reign by lionizing his father, David, ignoring all the clear faults. There is an irony here that Solomon’s chief virtue is his wisdom, his ability to make good judgments, to know good from evil, yet the text reveals a lot of questionable decisions, even in the eyes of the author, the Deuternomistic Historian. This text that regularly proclaims the virtue of its characters is written as an explanation of what went wrong with the dynasty.
Perhaps that is the way that wisdom literature works. Wisdom literature purports to present the collected wisdom of earlier generations. It’s as if we get a head start on the good life by paying attention to what the dead say. For us to believe in the advice given, we must believe in the outcome. Do good, get good. Unfortunately, to believe that, we have to ignore a lot of personal experience and seriously edit the lives of our forbears. Like all Scripture – and all texts – perhaps there is some value there, but it has to be tested. Rather than simply following their advice, we should ask: What values do they present? For whom are those values valuable? What and who is left out of their imagination of the good? Only by questioning the text with Solomon’s “listening heart” can we see their real value in our lives.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Church in the Cliff, as we talk about the good life in memory and imagination.
Grace & Peace,
Help a Homeless High School Student
One of our community members is working with a young man who is homeless. He is a 17-year-old athlete, and he is a junior in high school. He has back to school supplies, but he could really use some clothes, shoes, and a few other things. There are other agencies working with him on housing, food, and financial issues. Please purchase items on the list and bring them to services at Church in the Cliff at 11am on Sunday August 16th or 23rd. Please message Scott on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or text at 214-505-6205 to arrange drop-off during the week.
To learn more about homelessness in high school here in Dallas, visit American Graduate, a special report by KERA.