Solomon is well-known for his wisdom and wealth, but was he too smart for his own good. I remember Solomon not for his wisdom or wealth but instead his brilliance as an author. His proverbs were clever and unparalleled by any man. But, the work that I enjoy the most is the book of Ecclesiastes. I often refer to this book as the book of our time. After reading it one could conclude that it was recently released under some big publisher questioning the meaning of life. The content contained in the book sounds eerily similar to the questions raised by many in our world today but it is also the same philosophical question that has been asked since the beginning of mankind; What is the purpose of life?

The great King Solomon starts off Ecclesiastes with this statement,

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

You know you are in for quite a treat when these are the opening lines of the book. It has been theorized that Solomon wrote this book at the later stages in his life. He had seen and experienced life to a degree that not many would understand or ever get to see. Solomon comes to the place where he looks back on his life and wonders if it was all pointless. Even when it came to his wisdom listen to what he says,

“I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.” (Ecc 1:16-17)

How does a man who started off his story asking God for wisdom to lead a people, end up believing there is no point at all? Did he get to a point that he blended his wisdom with his intelligence and became too smart for God?

What’s the difference between wisdom and intelligence? I think we often equate the two but I see them as very different things. I have known some very wise people who would not be considered intelligent by the worlds standards. I have also known some very smart people who were not very wise. I have also experienced a combination of the two. The wisdom that was given to Solomon was a godly wisdom that went far beyond intelligence. Solomon was given an awareness of people and situations going on around him. He was able to control his emotions while determining the right paths and decisions that had to be made. But we can also conclude that Solomon was an intelligent man. He was a man who knew how to write and in his writings we read a depth of philosophy, psychology, biology, and theology that leaves people thinking.

Did he abandon his wisdom to lean more on his intelligence? Wisdom and intelligence both come from God, but did the wisdom that he asked for specifically from God, end up on the wayside as he leaned on his own understanding?

Before you think I want Christians to shut off their brains at the door, let me stop you. Christianity is not a faith that we follow blindly without reason or evidence. There are plenty of areas that we engage with our intelligence. What we should remember is that we can’t simply rely on our intelligence alone. God gives us wisdom to discern and balance the situations around us.

In the midst of life’s struggles and joys we trust in God and not our own brains. Plenty of people have been led a stray by believing only in what they can see, touch or smell. Our intellect tells us we need only trust what we see and we can’t trust what we don’t. Our faith and godly wisdom tell us to engage God with our brains, but also to trust our wisdom that discerns the things about God that we can’t see. It is a both/and, not either or.

Where did Solomon end up? Listen to the last verses of Ecclesiastes,

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecc 12:13-14)

I would like to believe that even through Solomon struggled to find purpose in life that he still held to what was true. I pray today that no matter the doubt or struggle in your life, that you can also hold on to the truth of God. When there is an intellectual struggle work through it in a godly way; gather people, pray and hear from God’s Word and don’t allow your intellect to be the thing that keeps you from trusting. Be wise!