“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
These words from actor Jim Carrey are striking, both for how counter-cultural they are for most Americans, and also for how true they are. Our society gauges a person’s greatness by their fame and fortune, but as one who has amassed more of both than he knows what to do with, Carrey finds that preposterous. And the Bible agrees with him.
When Solomon was selected as heir to the throne of Israel following his father David’s death, he had huge shoes to fill. David was the greatest ruler in Israel’s history, hand-picked by God and promised an eternal lineage. Now Solomon was to carry that legacy forward. What did it mean to be a great king? How could he build on the foundation of his father? He asked for wisdom—not riches, not victory over his enemies, not long life—and his request pleased God. God granted Solomon wisdom beyond the measure of anyone in history, and with it came riches, peace, and a long life. Solomon became such a great king, noted for his wisdom and wealth, that rulers traveled from around the world to meet him.
Nearly a thousand years later, another ruler walked the earth. He, too, was in the line of David, but His lineage and upbringing were significantly less royal. He was born into a working-class family from an out-of-the way place. He had no riches or obvious power, but He had wisdom “greater than Solomon,” Luke tells us. Jesus was the wisest man to ever live, and nobody noticed.
Granted, Jesus did not flaunt His wisdom. He kept it veiled in parables, stories replete with meaning but only for those “with ears to hear.” He did not brag or hold court, yet the crowds still sought Him out. They knew there was something about Jesus that was new and better and different, but it was also veiled and hidden from most. And many dismissed Him. “What is this wisdom that has been given to him?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter?” (Mark 6:2–3).
Little did they realize that the carpenter who walked before them was the son of David, the Lion of Judah, one greater than Solomon. He was King by birthright and by quality. Like Solomon, He did not seek riches and power and fame, for “In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Rulers from around the world sought out King Solomon for his wisdom and grandeur, but one day every knee will bow to Jesus Christ for His perfect wisdom and indescribable glory (Romans 14:11).
Written by Barnabas Piper