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By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW
Early in the morning, and I’m up before she is.
That’s the pattern. I’ve made enough for two cups of coffee before I remember she’s gone to take care of her mother for a month.
The writings of Solomon, in the book of Proverbs in the Bible, have just captured my imagination for some reason. I suppose if I am to have some weakness, some inner passion to give into for a while, becoming a wise person is a pretty good thing to be secretly addicted to.
I wonder if this wealthy, handsome monarch, with his many wives ever faced this being alone in the morning. I think he faced it a lot.
In his final book, Ecclesiastes, he wrote: “Have joy with the woman of your love all the days of your foolish life which he gives you under the sun. Because that is your part in life and in your work which you do under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:9 BBE.
I notice that the woman is singular, not plural. Get up in the morning with one woman all your life. This is the “work” or I should work at it all my life. But we do it to make it fun or to “have joy.” Now that’s the truth. We work at it every day for over 37 years and we’ve had some very good times.
Solomon collected wives and concubines the way some people collect bottle caps and scripture was very harsh on him for doing so. It’s final verdict on his life was: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” 1 Kings 11:4, NIV.
So having many women meant he never had one who knew him well and had decided that, if you balance it all out, she might as well show up for the coffee.
So why did he do this if he was so smart? I think there is another side to this besides lust. In a world where women were little more than beasts of burden and objects to be bartered for, I see this: Solomon began his reign with an act of justice towards a woman, a prostitute no less (1Kings 3:16-28).
In Proverbs, chapters 1-9, where he wrote about getting wisdom, wisdom is always pictured as a female. She is courted and married and in chapter 9 she becomes a queen over a “house.” While this explains the process of being wise, what does it also say about being female?
In Proverbs 1:8 Solomon included moral teaching from his mother and as well as his father.
In Proverbs chapter 2, he contrasts evil men and evil women but one is not worse than the other.
In chapter 5 Solomon argued against extramarital affairs and taught lifelong commitment in marriage.
In chapters 7 and 8 Solomon contrasts good and bad women, without implying that women are worse or better than men.
Chapter 31 includes the words of a woman teacher.
Solomon concludes Proverbs by talking about the value of a good woman (Proverbs 31:10-31).
He also says not to steal the credit for what she does (verse 31).
He also said some things about gender fairness that were ahead of his time. They may have flocked to him for that reason too. Last thing. Where he went wrong, he was up front about it. I can learn from that.
Coffee’s done. Gotta run. Fill up the day with things to do until she gets back.