Solomon’s wisdom on Learning, Listening and thinking

When Solomon Speaks Series

When Solomon Speaks 1

There was virtually no king in the days of Solomon who belonged to his class; perhaps, only his predecessor, David, was. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Solomon grew up under the parenting of a man whose panting was after God’s heart. He took over the reins of kingship in Israel after Absalom raised dust with the intention to take over the position already reserved for him by David his father. As a king, Solomon lived large. He had virtually all things at his fingertips. The money, gold and ornaments of ostentation were there like an Ocean. In fact, silver was like stones on the streets of Jerusalem. Women were not his problem – he had them at his beck and call. His government was highly organised too. Dignitaries and other visitors came from far and near for different purposes ranging from the need for justice to official visitation. Such was Queen Sheba’s visitation.

Sincerely, if Solomon lacked anything at all, it was because he didn’t want it. He confirmed his no-lack-no-limitation life when he said that: “And whatsoever my eyes desired, I kept not from them. I withheld not my heart from any joy…” (Eccle 2:10).

Subsequently, after having a taste of all he could desire or think of, Solomon had experience which he put in writing in the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Songs of Solomon. Solomon had a lot impressed on him by God, the Author. I do think that because of the richness of Solomon’s experience, he decided to write them in bits or what I call quotable quotes so he could cover as many as possible issues. I think that was why Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are written such that each verse is almost unrelated to the immediately preceding or next verse. Each verse carries a message on its own that one needs to meditate on.

Experience never expires, Pastor Femi Bankole said during my NYSC year. The experiences of Solomon cannot expire. Without doubt, it is good to learn from people’s experiences. Solomon had it and he confirmed it when he said, “…I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge” (Eccl 1: 16). His experiences were written for us to search and study since they are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Tim 2:16). When a man with life experiences speaks, it is wise to listen to him.

From the beginning of Proverbs, Solomon stated clearly, the purpose of his writing which are to enable us know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; (and) to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. Prov 1: 2-4, KJV.

Solomon emphasises listening and learning

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning — Prov 1:5, KJV

Learning means ‘to gain knowledge or skill by studying, from experience, from being taught, etc’ (Oxford Dictionary). From immemorial times, learning has been a subject of emphasis. A man who does not listen and learn will always lean on others to do his thinking for him. And whatever he gets, he cannot be dissatisfied with. If learning is not important, sagacious Solomon would not have called our attention to it. When a man like Solomon emphasises a matter as important as learning, one needs to listen.

Look at that Prov 1:5 again, preceding learning is hearing which NIV refers to as listening. From the definition of learning above, it is revealed that one can gain knowledge (learn) from being taught. However, you cannot be taught without having listened. How well do we listen to God’s counsel in the scripture, to our parents, supervisors, to our children and friends, etc?

Learning also involves gaining knowledge from experience which could be the experience of others too. How well do we learn from others’ experiences? Do we still get our fingers burnt despite the fact that we have observed how others failed on a project that was not viable?

Solomon summarized virtually all he learned as a king in Israel into quotable quotes put together in books for our learning, proper living and understanding. That is why Solomon’s Proverbs are collectively called the Manual for Living (Prov 1:3, The Message Bible). He has invited the studious and meditating minds to listen and also learn from his experiences.

As a gifted king, Solomon’s exposure to several issues in different spheres of life made him rich in knowledge. Therefore, he wrote widely touching areas such as spiritual discernment and receptivity, understanding and wisdom, the fear of God, greed and robbery, evil association, prosperity, knowledge, safety and security, health, temptation, shady businesses, marriage, impurity, flattery and hypocrisy, poverty and riches, humility, agriculture, good name, benevolence, envy, chastity, abstinence, virtues, vanity, friendship, ingratitude, love, etc.
As we go on this series of study on Solomon’s words starting from Proverbs 1, it will take us a couple of weeks as we search through the whole of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. I believe that God has a lot to teach all of us. When Solomon speaks about what God and life taught him, I think it is wise to listen, learn and grow.

Remember: The emphasis of WSS 1 is on listening and learning. Recall also that a man who does not listen and learn will always lean on others to do his thinking for him.

By the grace of God, we shall meet here again in continuation of the series.

Thank you for being a part of this. Do drop a comment.

Vessel Anani Sunday K (VASK) is saved by grace.


How i changed this bad habit…

How i changed this bad habit...

A nugget is ‘a valuable idea or fact’. I have two examples – one personal and a non-personal example – to use to illustrate the possibility of attitudinal or behavioral changes in people’s lives. Change in people’s attitude or habits can go either way. It can be from good to bad and vice versa. The latter is more desirable.

As an undergraduate, I knew a person who didn’t appear so interested in the things of God. Academically too, he didn’t appear as serious as some of us were then. One could say he was being youthful and that took a better part of him. But today, when I chat with him, I cannot but agree that he has come out of a ‘bad’ state into light. Today, the same person who didn’t seem to take God’s things serious now sends me daily Christian devotionals ceaselessly. He is so consistent with it. He has changed.

Before (and around) the second half of last year, I was good at using my teeth as nail cutter. It was a bad habit I tried to stop for many years. For many years before then, I could cut my fingernails with my teeth while walking on the road, seated in the bus or in the church, classroom, etc. I couldn’t stop the bad habit.

Sometime last year, I decided to stop it after my fiancée had continued to show displeasure at it too. I had tried it before but I failed still. But last year, I did something I never really thought could be so phenomenal. After avoiding using my teeth as nail cutter for some days or weeks, I posted on my Facebook wall that I had finally stopped using my teeth as nail cutter. The comments that followed the post showed me some facts:

There are people who don’t have the bad habit of using teeth as nail cutter.

There are people who are struggling with the bad habit too and who came out sincere about it.

The phenomenal impact the Facebook post and the accompanying comments had on my permanent stop of using my teeth as nail cutter is that I found it good to know that I was coming out of a bad habit some still struggle with. It further consolidated my victory over the bad habit. I cannot tell, but it is likely that, one or two people could have taken the right step too after that post.

There is no bad habit anyone is struggling with that cannot be stopped. Habits are most times cultivated unconsciously but it requires a conscious effort to stop them. It requires a concrete decision. The temptation to go back to them will always surface until it will become a past thing if the individual involved continues to maintain a non-compliant stand against the temptation.

Many negative habits (such as per-marital sex, lying, cheating, masturbation, anger, hatred, etc) which people struggle with can be stopped if they are indeed committed to a change process. Chief among this process is the decision to stop. Decision, as simple as it sounds, can give one victory over bad habits. Then telling a friend or two about your decision can be a check-and-balance on you. This is why confession of one’s sins with one’s mouth does a whole lot of wonder.

On a last note, it is important not to give up on people. Bad people today can be good tomorrow. People who appear as never-do-wells can go through a change process that will make them campaigners of positive things tomorrow. An apt example is that of Paul.

The possibility of change in a bad habit you struggle is a fact you cannot hide from. You can come out of whatever bad habit you struggle with. You can avoid the guilt that comes with it if you can make a decision and pray for grace to be on God’s side.

On this day, decide to break from bad habits that make you feel guilty or go deeper in personal dirt. I believe this is possible because I have seen it happen and it will continue to happen. Will you be willing to be the next changed person?

Happy New Month. It is our month of blessing and enlargement.

VASK is saved by grace.

Nigerian Universities and University of London’s Professor Abiodun Alao

Nigerian Universities and University of London's Professor Abiodun Alao
University of Lagos

Three Nigerian Federal universities are currently in the news for the bad reasons. The University of Port Harcourt is currently shut following students’ protest against the school’s no-tuition-no-examination policy. Students wanted exams to hold even though they haven’t paid their tuition fees. Where is that done if not here? They protested, disrupted exams, destroyed property and in the process, a student died. The school is shut for a month.

My alma mater, the University of Lagos, was shut too weeks ago following students’ protest against poor living conditions. In a campus where I enjoyed power supply as if we owned Kainji dam, power has become erratic. Students protested and the school was shut too when exams were days away. In both UNIPORT and UNILAG’s cases above, their school authorities suspended their student unions indefinitely. This decision has further angered in particular, the students of UNILAG. Addressing student unionism is a piece for another time.

Lately, the University of Ibadan has joined the list. One student nicknamed Mote, a 500-level student of Petroleum Engineering Department was rusticated following his role in a said peaceful protest in his hall of residence. As at today, the school is shut and students have turned the school’s maingate to a cooking arena in protest.

These, and many more sad stories that emanate from public universities that ought to be a citadel of learning make one irked at the level we are where on the other hand, our counterparts in other countries are making significant advance in teaching, research and community service which are the tripartite purposes of the university.

Away from those sad tales, I found it gladdening to read today of the good report on one Nigerian Professor, Professor Abiodun Alao, (a Professor of African Studies) who dispenses education as a means of livelihood at the King’s College, University of London. Professor Abiodun was to deliver his inaugural lecture today in the university. He is the first black African to deliver such lecture in the University’s 187 years of existence. He has distinguished himself with over 100 publications in globally-accepted journals with focus on peace in Africa. Professor Abiodun obviously knows his onions.

With the hope of delivering an inaugural lecture in a matter of years, I have always loved listening to one. Throughout my university and youth service years at the University of Lagos and OlabisiOnabanjo University respectively, I ensured I attended inaugural lectures as delivered by professors. Such lectures come not only with deep knowledge sharing but also inspiration. If I were somewhere around London today, I could have decided to attend Professor Abiodun’s lecture in order to, at least, ‘distract’ me from the sad stories coming frequently from Nigerian public universities.

As a way of conclusion, Nigerian academics and students alike should learn something from their foreign counterparts. No teaching or research can be done in a chaotic learning environment like ours. In addition, the government should swiftly address and nip in the bud, the ravaging onslaughts of Fulani herdsmen who perhaps equate one cow to twenty human lives. This is necessary before they turn to our campuses as their possible grazing areas. The madness displayed by the cattlemen needs be promptly contained.

Vessel Anani Sunday K. (VASK) is saved by grace