Knowledge and wisdom

Epiphany 4 – 1 Kings 3:16-28

Herbert Hoover was the perfect person for the job.

Except he wasn’t.

Herbert Hoover was the first President to have a business degree prior to becoming President. Under ordinary circumstances, he would be the exact person you would want in office when a financial crisis hit.

Except that when a financial crisis did hit, he turned out to be the wrong man for the job.

His knowledge about business told him that being hands off was the answer, that the system would correct itself. His knowledge proved to be wrong, either due to the magnitude of the situation, or due to a coming together of a multitude of events. Hoover’s knowledge did not help him make the right decisions.

That is the danger with placing your trust in knowledge. Knowledge works when the situation aligns itself perfectly; except that situations rarely do.

And yet, it is in experts and knowledge that we so often place out trust.

Clearly someone who is interviewed on television must be an expert, if for no other reason than that they are on television. Clearly someone who has written a book, must know what he is talking about, otherwise he would not have been published. Clearly someone who stands in the front of the room must be the one who knows the most, if not, they would not be up there.

And no matter what they say, it must therefore be correct.

That is what society would have you believe.

That is what society would have you become.

Because that is what the world knows; the world knows knowledge. The world knows what knowledge can do. The world knows not to question knowledge.

And so when knowledge tells you that the world was created over billions of year, and not in 6 days, you are not expected to question it.

When knowledge tells you that the miracles can all be explained away by reason, or dismissed as fable, you are to nod politely.

When knowledge tells you that the dead do not come back to life, you are not to deny what you have been told.

And when knowledge recites alleged contradictions in the Scriptures, before denying the authority of the Scriptures entirely, you are expected to be right there, never questioning the knowledge of men.

And because you desire acceptance in the eyes of the world, because questioning, even denying what knowledge says would make you the fool, you bow to knowledge; after all, who are you to question what was said on television, or read on the internet, or spoken in a crowded room?

Who are you to question, what so many others have affirmed to be correct?

For knowledge demands submission. It demands that you recite word for word the lies that knowledge expounds. It refuses to be questioned by anyone, especially by you.

But most of all, knowledge does not care about the truth, because sometimes the truth can be inconvenient as opposed to what our sinful nature desires.

When Solomon proposes cutting the baby in half, the mother of the dead child is all for it; why? Because knowledge has told her that protecting life does not matter, only righting perceived wrongs matters. The truth of who the true mother is, is a truth to be ignored, for it is in conflict with her knowledge.

Knowledge comes to you in print, in video and in spoken word and has told you that life does not matter; it has told you that the authority of God’s Word does not matter; it has told you that all that matters is what men tell you matters; and all that matters is knowledge.

 

Solomon has knowledge, indeed all people have knowledge; for knowledge is a First Article gift, and it is indeed good, to a point.   But Solomon also has wisdom; and his wisdom tells him that something is not right here: one woman is too eager to cut the child in half, and the other is suddenly willing to give up the whole thing so that he may live, even if it is in another home.

Solomon’s wisdom reveals to him the identity of the true mother.

But Solomon did not discover this by reading in textbooks, or by watching documentaries about it on television, or even by doing a google search. Solomon gets his wisdom in the baby case from the same place you get your wisdom about life and creation and the Word of God and the sacraments.

Solomon’s wisdom comes from God. God had offered Solomon anything he could have wanted, and instead of asking for riches or power or glory, Solomon asked for wisdom. Wisdom to rule and govern God’s holy people; wisdom for situations like today, when there seems to be no answer; wisdom for problems that the advisors and counselors cannot help him with.

Solomon’s prayer for wisdom is now our prayer for wisdom. We are not leading God’s holy people in ancient Israel, but we have been called to be God’s holy people in the world today; we have been called to confess our faith in Jesus Christ to a generation that values knowledge to the detriment of wisdom.

For it is wisdom granted by God Himself that makes known the things of faith, for the wisdom of God is stronger than men. It is by God’s wisdom that you are able to confess that baptism saves; that Christ’s body and blood are truly present; that your sins are forgiven; that the Word of God is true for us today.

Only through the prism of wisdom, can knowledge be made to work for the benefit of faith.

For knowledge is a First Article gift, given to us by our heavenly Father that we might know and understand His creation, but wisdom makes clear the things that knowledge cannot understand.

For you will not be asked to divide a baby between feuding mothers; but you will be asked to divide between right and wrong when it comes to matters of life, both at conception and at natural death. You will be asked to divide between what the world deems to be right and what God’s Word declares to be true. You will be called to distinguish between the false prophets and the true prophets.

The knowledge of men will be of no use to you in these cases, only the wisdom of God can reveal the truth.

For only with the wisdom of God can the heart believe and confess that Jesus Christ came into the world for the redemption of God’s holy people; even those people who chased after the knowledge of men, assuming it to be true.

For knowledge looks at the cross and sees a man hanging dead; wisdom looks and sees the Savior of the world, who took the sin of the world upon Himself.

Solomon’s wisdom, granted to him from God so that he might lead God’s holy people, reveals to him that the life of a child can be spared today.

The wisdom that God has granted to you, to be God’s holy people living in the world today, reveals something quite similar to you. A child died, but it was not you; instead it was the Son of God on the cross, so that you, child of God, might live.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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