Why Wisdom Is Not Enough
Updated: Oct 21
Solomon is the man who asked God for wisdom instead of riches, long life, or the heads of his enemies. He received wisdom in abundance with a bonus - beyond what he could have imagined.
His epic judgment in the case of a disputed baby became the epitome of wise and impartial judgment.
However, Solomon struggled to apply wisdom in his personal life. His life was generally plagued by unregulated passions, materialism, and tyranny. These are vices that can hardly be associated with wisdom.
How else can we measure the misadventures of Solomon in spite of the depths of wisdom he had at his disposal?
He raised an heir that wasn't fit to reign as King who ended up losing 80 percent of the kingdom. This disastrous end to the kingdom reflected how much wisdom Solomon invested in the matters that really mattered to him and his people.
Psychologists have come to identify this phenomenon as the Solomon's paradox. It is when people are great at applying wisdom or certain skills or talents to help others but fail to apply the same in their personal circumstances.
Such people thrive as wise observers and advisers in other people's matters but fail at helping themselves.
Psychology writer, David Robson in his book, 'The Intelligence Trap' writes:
The stories of Solomon and the perspectives offered by prior research suggest that Solomon’s paradox may represent a fundamental and widespread social cognitive bias.
Wisdom like any other talent requires appropriate action for it to be productive. It is not enough to have it. You can have it and not use it.
Solomon’s paradox is akin to the saying "Physician, heal thyself". It means focusing on solutioning for others without applying the same prescription for similar personal diagnoses.
Solomon’s sound general wisdom helped him deal effectively with other people's life problems, but he lacked the personal wisdom to maximize his own life.
An unexamined life cannot maximize the power of personal wisdom. It takes a sober reflection of own circumstances for any wise man to apply the same quality of wisdom in their personal affairs.
Solomon's paradox could also result from a lack of self-distancing. This is the inability to step outside of your own expert point of view and reflect more objectively on your personal experiences.
The outcome of a lack of introspection is the disaster called Solomon’s paradox, whereby the individual does not benefit from the direct application of their own wisdom.
Solomon became a wisdom influencer. The fame of his wisdom attracted dignitaries and celebrities from far and near.
Pride and greed could pollute a good gift through the pursuit of personal gains. If the gift is polluted, it can no longer maximize purpose, beyond revenue generation.
The more important lesson is that wisdom and its commercial by-products may not be true measures of success.
A man can manifest so much wisdom and talent and attain great success by it and still miss the mark in many aspects of their personal life.
The conclusion of the matter
Jesus talked about people who will claim to have used the gifts, power, and authority from God to do mighty works but they themselves will fail to make the cut (Matthew 7:21-23). When a gift is polluted, whatever it produces will not have any enduring or eternal value.
In the end, it is what you do with whatever wisdom or gift you have that matters.
King Solomon had very serious words of counsel at the end of everything he did with his wisdom, or perhaps, without wisdom.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13, KJV).
That is 'hearing from the horses' mouth'. What else can we say?
According to the wise, rich, and powerful King Solomon, the ultimate wisdom is the fear of God. If you have it, you have everything. Indeed, it is the beginning of true wisdom.