I remember back to that day when my dad took off the training wheels on my bike. I was more than ecstatic! Finally, I could ride all around the sidewalk my grandfather hand poured and engraved with the names of his grandchildren that encircled the old house I grew up in. Faster and faster I excelled. . .I was riding free! However, it didn’t take long before I wreaked and tumbled down on the hard surface. That first fall was so bad! I still bare the scar on my knee.
I wonder if I’m not the only one out there whose body, especially the knees and legs, bare the scars of childhood and even adult follies? From the time I was 9 months old and had to be admitted into the hospital while doctors and nurses kept vigil on my intestines after swallowing a bobbie pin, to landing myself a year later in that very same hospital for two surgeries to find the severed tendon in my hand after cutting my finger on a broken glass bottle, to the hideous scar on my leg that reminds me, I’m missing one of my three hamstrings which is now my new ACL. All of these scars are reminders of my stupidity or innocent accidents, I may or may not have been able to control to some degree.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we were more like computers, where when we get bogged down and seize with the little rainbow wheel of death, or feel like we can’t go on, we can simply clean out the cookies, or click the refresh tab, or even restart our computers? Sadly, we aren’t capable of this on our own and neither was the wisest man on earth named King Solomon.
Because he was made king of such an enumerable people at a very young age, Solomon used his time earnestly to learn everything he could about knowing and doing God’s will for him. He was blessed with many gifts both spiritual and temporal, with knowledge, skills, and a largeness of heart: “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad” (1 Kgs. 3:9).
Solomon’s selfless request pleased the Lord: “Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself … behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart” (1 Kgs. 3:11–12). The Lord then gave him other great blessings and strictly charged Solomon to walk in His ways and keep His commandments.
People came from far and wide to hear and learn of King Solomon’s wisdom. Soon, however, he gave his heart away to know wisdom, madness and folly. (Ecclesiastes 1:17)
Solomon’s wisdom turned on him as his mind became open and he saw where his search for wisdom and knowledge had lead him. Wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. Wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness; As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me…He hated his life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me…He hated all his labour because he knew he would have to leave it unto another man that would not be him of whom he could be sure would be foolish or wise liken unto himself. Then he said, “For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledege, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil”. Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished”. (Ecclesiastes 2:3, 13-15, 17-21; 4:13)
King Solomon’s quest to know so much back fired on him, his knowledge lead him to curse his life and his vanity. His wisdom turned rancid which lead him to folly. “Solomon the wise man seemed to be following the procedure of many people of today who want to try out or experiment with evil. This is a memorable example of what happens when one of the wisest, most powerful men of his day, one whom God loved, was brought down to such a low state that he destroyed the work of his life and died very much out of favor with God”. The Wealth of Wisdom Sterling W. Sills
Like Solomon, some people try so hard to avoid getting scars while young so they can be smart and avoid all the pitfalls and bumps in life. However, we find it wasn’t until the later of years of King Solomon’s life these experiences lead him to a different kind of wisdom; wisdom I am very prone to and I bet you are, too. When I first received my patriarchal blessing, the Lord through my Patriarch blessed me with wisdom that would invoke many far and wide to seek. I quickly looked up in the dictionary (a real hardbound book in my parent’s library) what wisdom means. I read that it is first-hand experience. I certainly have had many of those, my legs serving as a physical example of what my spirit must look like inside my body.
As I diligently practiced riding my bike each day, I wreaked less and less until ultimately, I really never had another crash due to my own stupidity. The wisdom came in learning from my mistakes, not watching how my brothers learned to ride so effortlessly. Sure, I learned some amazing skills from them, like when I followed them on jumps, etc. But, end the end, it was up to me to learn how to ride with ease and without training wheels given to me by my parents. True wisdom came because my parents let me soar on my own.
Like giving our computers a good clean up, we can thank the Lord for His atonement that is effective for Solomon, for me, and for you! When I and others repent, every scar we bare on our souls and bodies will be taken up in Christ because no matter how smart or reckless we are in life, we can learn from our mistakes and improve. That is what I call true wisdom!
Some day, Solomon will be able to teach us that his greatest learning didn’t come through knowing everything in his youth, rather it came on his deathbed when he wished to rescind all his mistakes that had humbled him and taught him not to rely on his own wisdom, but God’s!