Was Solomon the Wisest Man Who Ever Lived? Lessons from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Old worn BibleThe short answer is yes. Of Solomon the scripture says: “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment; the breadth of his understanding was as infinite as the sand on the seashore. Solomon was wiser than all the men of the east and all the sages of Egypt. He was wiser than any man, including Ethan the Ezrahite, or Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol. He was famous in all the neighboring nations. He composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs…….People from all nations came to hear Solomon’s display of wisdom; they came from all the kings of the earth who heard about his wisdom.” 1 Kings 4:29-32,34.

I personally have the utmost respect for the wisdom of King Solomon. I read the book of Ecclesiastes often, and marvel at the book of Proverbs. Let it also be said that God chose the wisest man who ever lived to write a whole book dedicated to the beauty of sexual love: The Song of Solomon. Solomon admonishes us in Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who obtains understanding. For her benefit is more profitable than gold. She is more precious than rubies, and none of the things your desire can compare with her.” He also says in Proverbs 4:5-7 “Do not forsake wisdom and she will protect you; love her and she will guard you. Wisdom is supreme – so acquire wisdom, and whatever you acquire, acquire understanding.” I directly attribute the wisdom of Solomon for being a guardrail for me, literally saving my life.

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the main character Huckleberry is fleeing his abusive father. Huck has staged things to look like he was murdered. He chances to meet up with Jim, the slave of a woman who has helped Huck. Jim has fled his master and is trying to make it to a “free state.” There he hopes to earn enough money to buy back his family. The story chronicles their adventures as they raft down the Mississippi river. As they are floating along one day, Jim and Huck debate the merits of King Solomon’s wisdom. Huck is explaining to Jim what kings do. He says: “And other times when things is dull, they fuss with the parlyment; and if everybody don’t go just so he whacks their heads off. But mostly they hang round the harem.” Jim says, “Roun’ de which?” “Harem” answers Huck. “What’s de harem?” Jim asks. “The place where he keep his wives. Don’t you know about the harem? Solomon had one; he had about a million wives.” Huck says. “Why, yes, dat’s so; I -I’d done forgot it.” says Jim. “ A harem’s a bo’d’n-house, I reck’n. Mos’ likely dey has rackety times in de nussery. En I reck’n de wives quarrrels considerable; en dat ‘crease de racket. Yit dey say Sollermun de wises’ man dat ever live.’ I doan’ take no stock in dat. Bekase why: would a wise man want to live in de mids’ er sich a blimblammin’ all de time? No-‘deed he wouldn’t. A wise man ‘ud take in buil’ a bilerfactry; en den he could shet down de biler-factry when he want to res;.”

I was reading the book to my sons. When I got to the part about the “blimblammin” I stopped, laid the book down on my chest and laughed. I laughed long and hard. I laughed a deep, belly heaving laugh. My sons looked at me and began to laugh too. I honestly cannot recall that I have ever laughed that hard at something written in a book. Twain’s true gift to mankind was his humor. Jim’s down home wisdom just struck me as so funny. The thought of all the wives arguing, and the racket and headache that would create for Solomon just broke me. As a woman, one has to roll one’s eyes at the idea of men and their need for a harem. To think it might give them a headache is an irony so funny as to keep one laughing for hours. I can just hear King Solomon now, “I am sorry wife number 343, I just don’t feel up to it tonight because all that blimblammin has given me a severe pain in my head.” Now you have to admit,that’s funny.

It is clear from the book of Ecclesiastes that Solomon sought to understand the depths of wisdom but also that of folly. We also know from the book of 1 Kings that all of Solomon’s many wives led him astray. “He had 700 royal wives and 300 concubines; his wives had a powerful influence over him. When Solomon became old, his wives shifted his allegiance to other gods; he was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been.” 1 Kings 11:3-4 This is a sobering fact considering the breadth of wisdom Solomon had. It confirms what he himself said in Ecclesiastes 10:1 “Like a fly in a perfumer’s ointment, so a little folly outweighs much wisdom.” Solomon’s “little folly” was women. They were irresistible to him. They were the fly that ruined the beautiful fragrance of his relationship with God. If only Solomon could have had a friend like Jim. Maybe then he could have seen the wisdom in givin’ up those blimblammin women.

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