It was Dr Damilola Fagboro who gave an illustration in my first year in the university that has remained with me till date. In Accounting, it is possible to commit errors when preparing an account and yet not realise this until the end of the exercise. The non-agreement of figures signals the possibility of errors somewhere. Non-verbatim though, Dr Fagboro had asked that ‘if you realised that your figures do not balance after you have prepared an account, from where do you begin to trace the error with the hope to correct it? I cannot remember the different responses we gave in lecture room 10 that day but I know what I had in mind. It was my opinion that you should go back to the beginning of the accounts to begin to trace the error downwards. That’s probably your thought too.

Then he gave a more explicit illustration. Assuming you left home for work but when you got to the workplace, you couldn’t find the key to your office. From where should you begin to search for your key? Do you go home straight to begin the search for it or will you begin by thoroughly searching your bag, then your car, and then back home to continue the search? My guess is as good as yours that searching for the key from where you are back home is the better alternative. That illustration changed my view about searching for errors in an account prepared. The reason is simply because the cause of the imbalance could just be where you are.

This illustration is apt for the man on his journey to being a made person. His intention is to achieve his set goals without mistakes. Man hopes to strike once to hit the target. He plans for his future with the hope that perfect conditions will prevail. But few are such cases as failures, fallings, misses, etc, at times characterise the story of the man. By the way, man, as used here is in the generic sense. The question to ask is, when does the man need to pick up his pieces after a fall to rebuild damaged life?

In an all-time-relevant parable, Jesus Christ gave in Luke 15, there is an account of a son of a wealthy man commonly described as the prodigal son. He had taken his portion of his father’s wealth and then went into a far country to squander all. The bible aptly describes his life in the far away country as a ‘riotous’. This describes his life of wanton wastefulness. At a point in time, he became a servant feeding on an animal meal. It was that terrible.

His life received the greatest boost of all-time when he came to his senses. He decided to ‘look for his lost key’. He began right from where he was to trace his key back home. He began a journey home that changed his life for good. He picked up his pieces. Received back into his waiting glory, the erstwhile prodigal son became the proper son. His father was ready to spend all on him! The boy is back!

There is no how deeply-rooted a man has gone into error that he cannot be redeemed. Man has got hope so far breath is still in him. He could have lost his key for years but the day he chooses to trace it is the day he signals the beginning of a significant step to his normal state. You could have failed several times. You could have missed your way a million times. You could have gone deep into sin. You could have attempted a task countless times yet you are failing. You could have even lost all hope years ago. You may be holding on to unforgiveness for years now. You may be sleeping and waking on the bed of constant fornication or adultery at present and perhaps your next thought is just to probably end your life with your own hand because life seems to make no meaning to you again.

The presentation the devil makes to you to hold you down is that you have gone beyond repairs. But the truth is that you are always repairable. Will you make the move? Will find you the Key to your life? This Key is not even lost. You know where He is. He is just where you are as you read this. Go pick the Key. The Key is Jesus Christ, the Saviour.

Jesus says, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). Coming to Jesus means ‘believing in Christ, and becoming his disciple, or follower (Adam Clarke commentary). If what my lecturer told me is anything to go by (and I believe it is), you can find your significance by holding firmly to the Key of your life today. Believe His sacrificial death for you. Confess your past. With your Key, you are set to go. You still have a life to live! Ignore the devil’s false presentations.

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

The Key is not lost
The Key is not lost.

When Solomon Speaks 2: Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge

The When Solomon Speaks Series continues

When Solomon Speaks 2: Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge.

‘A proverb is much matter distilled into few words’ — R. Buckminster Fuller

As much as possible, Solomon compressed his rich experiences into proverbs. In all he knew, he laid greater emphasis on one thing which, I suppose, he found to be the most important thing in his life firstly, as a young man, secondly as king who had exposure to several issues of life and who presided over judgments, and thirdly, as a family man.

There are important things to lay emphasis on in life. They are the necessities. Others could be given less attention because when the necessities are in place, the other things will follow suit. The necessities are the principal things. Sagacious Solomon wrote about the principal thing which, in his understanding, makes a man lives the right way.

What is the principal thing?

Solomon emphasized Wisdom

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and in all thy getting get understanding. Prov 4:7

In Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, Solomon made mention of Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge (WUK) for over 170 times. It shows the emphasis he placed on them in his life. In fact, he used wisdom and knowledge interchangeably and where he talks of wisdom or knowledge, he often stressed understanding too.

Wisdom is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” It is “the quality of being wise.” Similarly, knowledge is the “awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation” while understanding is “having insight or good judgment.” Today, we draw lines between wisdom and knowledge but these two go together, at least, as far as Solomon was concerned.

WUK do not perch on people like a butterfly does on flowers; one searches for them. Solomon did not just emphasise the need for WUK in a man’s daily life, he clearly gave their source and the functions they perform. He spoke unequivocally about the source of WUK. He also advised that in all we get, we should endeavour to get understanding. What is the source of WUK? Why do we need WUK? Why did Solomon place so much emphasis on them?

The source of WUK

“The Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” Pro 2:6

I do not think the above verse is ambiguous in any manner about the source of WUK. Solomon identified God as their Giver. After being enthroned as king, God visited Solomon in Gibeon. He told God that he was a little child who couldn’t differentiate the right from the wrong. As a young king in Jerusalem, Solomon admitted his ignorance about governance. Finally, he asked God for discernment and a wise heart so that he could judge the people of Jerusalem wisely. He got all he asked and even more. This account is detailed in II Kings 2. So, when he later wrote in Proverbs that the Lord giveth wisdom, we cannot doubt this because he wrote from experience. Where will you turn to therefore when you need godly WUK? I believe you know better now.

The fear of God and WUK

Solomon linked the getting of godly WUK to the fear of God. He wrote that:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Prov 1:7
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Prov 9:10. The fear of God is also defined by Solomon in Prov 8: 13. He wrote that “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil”. To get godly WUK, one must “abstain from all appearance of evil” as Paul corroborated Solomon’s call for hatred of evil in II Thes 5:22. You cannot be wise without hating evil. Solomon further emphasised two types of deadly evil to include pride and arrogance which were the major causes of the undoing of even an angel. If Solomon hates a thing, it is wisdom to hate it too. Evil kills.

Why the emphasis, Solomon?

It is not inappropriate to ask Solomon why he placed so much emphasis on WUK. Why did Solomon say wisdom is the principal thing? Why did he have to write so much about them?

He said WUK make a man happy. They make one to walk uprightly. They make one to find goodness. They are instruments of defence, strength and deliverance. They bring favour. WUK make the face of a man to shine. They are profitable to direct one in the affairs of life. They preserve a man and they aid self-control. WUK gives life to a man’s soul. All of these are part of what Solomon listed as the benefits derivable from possessing wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Solomon also stressed that a man that departs from understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

Today too, we can get WUK through prayer (asking) and the fear of God. We can also read books such as the Bible and other good books, listen to counsels; learning from people’s experiences and other available means. The list is endless. The surest source however remains God.

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver. – King Solomon.

Focus of WWS 2: Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and in all thy getting get understanding. Prov 4:7

We meet again at another time by God’s grace.

Vessel Anani Sunday K (VASK) is saved by grace

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.