Key Scriptures: I Samuel 8:1-22, I Samuel 9:20-21, I Samuel 10:1-8, I Samuel 16:1-13, Acts 13:22, 2 Chronicles 1:7-12, I Kings 11:9-13, I Kings 12:1-15, James 1:5, James 3:17, Proverbs 3:13-18, Ephesians 5:15-17, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 19:20, Proverbs 17:27-28, Proverbs 2:6, Proverbs 11:2, James 3:15, Proverbs 14:8, Matthew 7:24, Proverbs 14:16, Proverbs 17:10, Proverbs 13:20, I Corinthians 1:7-12, I Corinthians 3:19, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Guiding Question: What is godly wisdom and why is it something we need?
Optional Introductory Activity: Ask students what they think the differences are between knowledge, wisdom and foolishness. Try to capture their answers so they can be seen throughout the lesson. Tell students you will give them a statement and they need to decide whether it is knowledge, wisdom or foolishness. (Note: A “k”, “w” or “f” is indicated after each statement for your information. You can decide whether or not to reveal the correct answer after student responses.)
- Pick the low hanging fruit first. (“F” Actually, fruit pickers begin at the top of the tree – because that fruit gets the most sun and is ripe first. Also it is easier to climb down the tree with an increasingly heavier bag of fruit than up the tree.
- Honey never spoils. (“K”)
- A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a thief. (“W” Proverbs 6:10-11a)
- Whoever walks in integrity, walks securely. (“W” Proverbs 10:9a)
- It’s always darkest before the dawn. (“F” Actually, it is darkest at Midnight. The closer it gets to dawn, the lighter the sky becomes.)
- It takes more muscles to frown than smile. (“F” Actually, it takes 10 muscles to make a small smile and only 3 to make a small frown.)
- A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus. (“K” A day on Venus is 243 earth days, while a year is only 225 earth days.)
- All good things come to those who wait. (“F” While this can be true when patience is necessary, sometimes one can wait forever and the good thing one wants doesn’t happen.)
- A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. (“W” Proverbs 11:13)
- Practice makes perfect. (“F” If you don’t have someone correcting your mistakes, you can actually just entrench your mistakes.)
- Never give up. (“F” Sometimes you need to give up a bad habit or sinful behavior.)
- Maine is the closest state to Africa. (“K” Since it is the farthest east on the globe, it is actually closest to the continent of Africa.)
- There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. (“W” Proverbs 14:12
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Read James 3:17. How does this passage define godly wisdom? It would be easy to have you memorize this verse, send you on your way and tell you to “be wise”. But what does godly wisdom actually look like in practice? What does it look like when God’s people don’t use God’s wisdom? Why does God want us to use His wisdom in our lives?
The answers are easily seen in the lives of the first four kings of Israel. We will go into more depth about their lives in the next few lessons, but let’s see what we can learn about wisdom from bits of their lives.
The first King of Israel was Saul. Until that time, Israel was ruled by God. God sent prophets when He had special messages for His people. At times, he also sent temporary leaders for military campaigns or other reasons. Yet, the people wanted to “be like all the other kingdoms around them” and have a king. Sound familiar?
Read I Samuel 8:1-22. What did Samuel warn the people would happen if they had a king? Does that sound like something they would want to happen? Why do you think they ignored Samuel and insisted on a king?
Now read I Samuel 9:20-21. What does it sound like Saul’s attitude is at this point about being the king of Israel? Read what happened at Saul’s anointing in I Samuel 10:1-8. What does Samuel tell Saul? Notice that God is going to give Saul the gift of the Holy Spirit, but also notice that King Saul will have free choice. We know this because Samuel told Saul to go wait for him for seven days until he came and told him what to do. We also know because later Saul makes some bad choices which end up costing him his kingdom. How did wisdom or the lack of wisdom seem to play a part in the stories of Israel wanting a king and King Saul?
Read I Samuel 16:1-13. Not only does God take away the kingdom from Saul, but also from his descendants. In the cultures of the time, Jonathan would probably have become king at the death of Saul. (Or since Jonathan was also killed, Mephibosheth would probably have become king.) God, however, also takes the kingdom away from Saul’s family. What does Samuel expect the next king will be like?Why do you think he was surprised God had chosen David to be the next king? If you remember, one of the things about Saul was that he was tall and handsome. Saul looked like people would want a king to look. David in comparison didn’t seem to have that “kingly” look. It also didn’t help that he was the youngest. Typically, all the best things went to the eldest son in the cultures of the time.
Read Acts 13:22. What hint does this give us as to why God may have chosen David to be the next king? What do you think it means that David was a “man after God’s own heart”? How do you think the idea of wisdom could be a part of that?
Then we have King Solomon, the son of King David. When we think of wisdom in the Bible, we often mention King Solomon. Read I Kings 11:9-13. Why do you think Solomon asked for wisdom? Why do you think he wasn’t tempted to give a more “normal” answer like more power or wealth? Why do you think God gave him more gifts when Solomon asked for wisdom?
We will talk about the life of King Solomon in more depth later, but let’s just say his life teaches us an important thing about wisdom. Just because God gives someone wisdom, doesn’t mean they have to or will use it. In fact, the book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon writing about learning this lesson the hard way.
Read I Kings 11:9-13. What does God say will happen to Solomon’s kingdom? Why will this happen? God had granted Solomon’s request for wisdom, yet Solomon had stopped using it at some point. Wisdom includes obeying God – the source of all wisdom. Solomon had chosen to worship other gods and had not kept other of God’s commands. Solomon’s life is sad because it is the story of wisdom not fully used.
Solomon’s son Rehoboam became king after Solomon. God had already declared Rehoboam would lose all but the smallest remnant of the kingdom – in part because of Solomon’s sin. Read I Kings 12:1-15. Who knows what would have happened if Rehoboam had been wise and listened to the advisors? What were the two sets of advice Rehoboam was given? Why do you think he chose the one he did? Why might he have known the other was a wiser choice? Who does it seem he neglected to ask for advice?
Skills Activity: Review the basic concepts from the lesson. Point out to students that all wisdom comes from God. Even though Christians have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to help us make wise choices, God will never force us to choose wisely. Every time we have a choice throughout our lives, we can choose to follow God’s wisdom and obey Him. Or we can choose to follow man’s wisdom. Read I Corinthians 3:19. What does it say about wisdom that comes from the world? Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Where does this verse suggest we can find wisdom?
The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom – from where we can and can’t find it to how to tell if our lives are filled with wisdom or foolishness. Divide into small groups. Take the scriptures below, what we have already learned about the first four kings of Israel and any other scriptures or observations you have and come up with a description of a wise person.
Your description should be as thorough as a description a detective might use to find a missing person – every little aspect will give them clues to help them find the missing person. Our world is obviously seriously lacking in people who have and/or are using godly wisdom consistently. We want to find those who are and we absolutely want to be one who takes full advantage of God’s wisdom – if we learned anything from the first four kings, it’s that ignoring God’s wisdom NEVER ends well.
- James 1:5 – asks God for Wisdom
- Proverbs 3:13-18 – realizes wisdom is more valuable than silver and gold
- Ephesians 5:15-17 – makes best use of their time, understands what the will of the Lord is
- Proverbs 1:7 – fears the Lord to gain knowledge, doesn’t despise wisdom and instruction
- Proverbs 19:20 – listens to advice and accepts instruction
- Proverbs 17:27-28 – restrains his words and has a cool spirit
- Proverbs 2:6 – knows wisdom and understanding come from God
- Proverbs 11:2 – is humble
- James 3:13 – has good conduct and shows his works in meekness of wisdom
- Proverbs 14:8 discerns God’s way
- Matthew 7:24 – hears the words of Jesus and does them – builds his house on a rock
- Proverbs 14:16 – is cautious and turns away from evil
- Proverbs 17:10 – takes rebukes seriously
- Proverbs 13:20 – walks with the wise and avoids foolish companions
- James 3:17 is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere
- Students may have additional scriptures and examples to add to this list
After students have had time to complete their lists, bring them back together as a class. Compare and contrast lists. Discuss ways students can make changes so they more closely resemble the person described as a wise person. Have each write down at least one change they will commit to making so they will move towards wisdom and away from foolishness in their own lives. Have each student place a copy of what they wrote into an envelope, write their name on the front and seal it. Tell students you will keep the envelopes and periodically remind them of their commitment. In a few (weeks or months depending on student needs and abilities), you will let them open their envelopes and have a general discussion of how well they have incorporated that change into their lives.
Application Challenge: Pray daily about the commitment you wrote and placed in the envelope. Ask God to help you keep that commitment and make an effort to seek wisdom and reject foolishness consistently. Find scriptures that can encourage you to work on making wise choices more consistently.