Friday, May 02, 2008

The Wisest Fool - Austin

The thought hit me the other day, unwelcome, but not new, that the wisest man who ever lived also ranks among the greatest fools. The man who penned most of the Proverbs, the man who shared the passion of the Song of Songs, the man who agonized through Ecclesiastes and Lamentations – is the same man who turned his back on the very advice he articulated so brilliantly. The epilogue of his life must rank amongthe great tragedies of history.

Solomon prayed for wisdom when he came to the throne. God gave him wisdom and added wealth and honour in a measure never before seen. Solomon built a magnificent temple to God, yet before his life ended, took the very wealth God had blessed him with and built temples to the gods of some of his wives. He took the honour God had heaped upon him, that gave him almost unlimited power, and he drew a nation into idolatry. He uttered proverbs that warned clearly of the dangers of sexual misconduct, yet most likely never knew the names of many of his wives and concubines. He slept with them with legal sanction, yet likely never knew most of them in any sense except sexually.

The wisest man? The Bible says so, and I’ve never yet won an argument where I’ve tried to prove the Bible wrong. Yet a man who in spite of his wisdom and all God’s blessings, chose to walk a path that violated the very words he had uttered with such clarity that they still resonate thousands of years later.

An unwelcome thought – because – although I’m neither exceptionally wealthy or wise, I’m too much like him in other ways. I don’t have to look far to see the tendency to drift in my own life. I don’t have to look far to see the tendency to take God’s blessings and invest them in ways that dishonour God.

Solomon – a name to both honour and to weep for. A name to learn from and from which to take careful warning.

Will you indulge the early draft of a poem that has seemed to demand expression as I have explored this theme?

The Wisest Fool

Blessed of God, he had no peers.
The wisest of them all.
His wealth and fame reached nations broad, so strange that it should pall. . .
That he should drift away from God
and lead his land astray,
should shun the very truth he spoke;
give idolatry full sway.

The poorest rich man. The wisest fool.
What dare we say for him?
With the very riches giv’n by God
led his nation into sin.
He spoke with wisdom clear and true
and then he lived a lie.
The legacy that was his to give
smeared ere his time to die.

The poorest rich man. The wisest fool.
Yet I’m too much the same.
I soak within God’s goodness
then wallow in sin’s shame.
And desperate – oh – I cry to God
strip away the things that blind
a heart so prone to drift away,
a lazy, wayward mind.

Draw me close. Clasp me tight
like a willful, careless child.
Whisper love into my ears.
Rebuke – but gentle – mild.
Yet discipline. Do all it takes
to keep me close to you.
A pauper’s grave is priceless wealth
if so my love stays true.

© Brian Austin

1 comment:

N. J. Lindquist said...

I have often thought of Solomon as the most foolish of men. He had so much, and knew so much, and yet he wasted it on all the wrong things. But perhaps wisdom really comes from experience, and making mistakes has to be part of that experience. A key is to try not to make the same mistake twice. :) Solomon seems to have missed out there, too. :)

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