“Confessions of a Foolish Wise Man”
Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
In the end of Solomon’s life he confesses that only God can fulfill the deepest desires of the soul.
Prophets and Kings, Solomon's Repentance
There is a phrase that goes like this: “Know God, know peace; no God, no peace.” It sounds like something Solomon would have said in his writings about wisdom. Solomon had some regrets at the end of his life, but he also had some valuable insights on the meaning of life. Solomon looked back on the mistakes he had made in his life, regretted pursuing so many things that did not satisfy him, and acknowledged that he had wasted time and resources on pleasures that never lasted. Solomon is still considered the wisest person to have ever lived. He had wisdom from God, because he asked God for it. He also made a lot of mistakes, but the positive that came from those mistakes were the lessons he wrote about which became wisdom for us to learn from today. Solomon concluded that only knowing, loving, and serving God made life meaningful.
OPENING ACTIVITY: WISE BUILDERS
Supplies: two boxes of small juice boxes; various materials that could be used to build a bridge—paper towel rolls, paper, cardboard, tape, yarn, small rags, popsicle sticks, etc.
Plan to have enough materials for at least two groups of teens to build a make-shift bridge between the backs of two chairs. Place the building materials on a table. Set up two sets of two chairs back to back with a space between them. Divide the group into two teams. They select whatever they want from the supply table to build a bridge between the two backs of the chairs. Let them know that their bridge needs to be able to support the weight of small juice boxes. They will complete their bridges, then you will test each group’s bridge by trying to stack small juice boxes on it to see how many of the juice boxes it will hold without breaking and without the juice boxes falling to the floor. Congratulate the winning group, and then give everyone a juice box to celebrate their bridge-building skills. Discuss the following questions about the activity.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read each Bible passage, then discuss the questions.
Walk with God
Read Micah 6:8.
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Read James 3:13–18.
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Read Romans 11:33–34.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
We would be wise to reflect on our words and actions, our choices, our motives, and the things and experiences we are pursuing. Praying to God about our life and asking Him to give us wisdom will result in a better and more meaningful life. Solomon had wisdom all throughout his life, but he did not always act or lead in wise ways, because he was still a sinner in need of God’s gift of grace and salvation. Solomon’s life ended in a positive way, only because he was able to accept and interpret wisdom from God that helped him see the error of his ways and pointed him to God’s greater purpose and meaning for His people and our lives on this earth. The writings of Solomon are worth reading and meditating on, and offer us a wise guide to avoid a meaningless life. God’s wisdom is always available to us, just like it was to Solomon. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5, NIV).
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
The lesson for January 13 focused on Solomon and his wisdom. The Relational Bible Study for that week came from 1 Kings 3:1-28.
The lesson for February 3 draws on Solomon’s writings found in two books of the Bible—Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (he also wrote Song of Solomon). Some consider Proverbs as the source of “what to do” and Ecclesiastes as “what not to do,” although Ecclesiastes concludes with counsel to remember God while you’re young rather than wasting your entire life and just turning to God at the end (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The last verses sum up life as “making God #1 (fear God) and obey his commandments (do what God says) because God will judge every person for the good and bad they do” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
For this week's Relational Bible Study, we’ll limit ourselves to just the first chapter of Proverbs. Most of the proverbs come from Solomon. He wrote them to his son (1:8, 10, 15). But they also seem to be for all fathers to pass on to their sons. Since only boys went to school at that time, the proverbs gave them a shortcut to learning how to live life well rather than having to learn from the “school of hard knocks” through poor decisions and negative consequences. Two major off ramps that take people away from wisdom, found throughout the book of Proverbs, are greed and lust. Apparently those were major temptations for young men in Solomon’s day. It doesn’t seem that Solomon did very well with either of these, and many today lose their way because of greed and/or lust as well. For today’s readers, it doesn’t take much to apply many of these same proverbs to both males and females. The woman of Proverbs 31 could be rewritten to describe the ideal man.
A number of the Old Testament proverbs get quoted in the New Testament. For example, Romans 2:6 quotes Proverbs 24:12; Romans 12:20 quotes Proverbs 25:21–22; Hebrews 12:5–6 quotes Proverbs 3:11–12; Hebrews 12:13 quotes Proverbs 4:26; James 4:6 quotes Proverbs 3:34; 1 Peter 4:18 quotes Proverbs 11:31; 1 Peter 5:5 quotes Proverbs 3:34; and 2 Peter 2:22 quotes Proverbs 26:11.
Encourage the youth to use the book of Proverbs for their personal devotions. As application option #2 suggests, you can match the chapter of Proverbs with the day of the month. For example, on February 3, read Proverbs chapter 3. The first nine chapters of Proverbs contain broad descriptions. Starting with chapter 10 you will find the pithy single-verse proverbs packed with meaning.
For this week, we’ll limit ourselves to the first chapter of Proverbs. Let’s ask God to give us wisdom as we read a book of wisdom from the wisest man who lived. This could help us when it comes to getting wisdom.
What have you found to be a good source of wisdom?
Read Proverbs 1:1-33.
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— 6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Prologue: Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom
Warning Against the Invitation of Sinful Men
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. 11 If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; 12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; 14 cast lots with us; we will all share the loot”— 15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; 16 for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. 17 How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; 21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: 22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, 29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
1. What is the purpose of the proverbs in the Bible?
2. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (vs 7) means:
3. What wisdom can a father or mother provide that God can’t?
4. What warning(s) does Proverbs give regarding “sinners”?
5. Where do you find wisdom?
6. What happens when people ignore or reject wisdom?
7. What wisdom have you received from your parent(s) or parental figures? What wisdom have they tried to pass on to you, but which you haven’t accepted?
8. Where and how will you seek wisdom this week?
The introductory chapter of Proverbs gives us a quick overview, including the importance of wisdom and how to get it. One of the key verses is verse seven which lets us know that the starting point for wisdom is God. For those who want to be wise, the first step is making God first in your life. Everything wise flows from that.
Here are three ideas for getting wisdom. You might want to do all three!
Because the starting point to wisdom is making God first in your life, the most important application you can make for this week’s lesson on wisdom is to ask God to be #1 in your life.
The book of Proverbs provides a great way to do your own devotional time with God.
What if the Miracles of Jesus are more than meets the eye?
What if there is so much more to each story than we see?
What if each time Jesus did something supernatural, He was inviting us to look deeper?
Beyond the healing.
Beyond the deliverance.
Beyond the acts that defied the laws of nature.
What if Jesus were inviting us to see something bigger?
Something more amazing about the love of God.
What if the ultimate Miracle is that God can transform us?
The Miracle Series is an interactive study of 15 of Jesus’ awe-inspiring encounters while here on earth. These lessons, and messages are designed to connect with teens and youth and take them on a journey of discovery. Included in this kit is everything you need:
We invite you and your youth to not just study the Miracles of Jesus but to experience The Miracle.
1. Activity / Busy Bags for Kids
Help parents stay sane. Assemble bags with activities to keep small children busy.
Cost: Less than $5.00
2. Placemats For Meals On Wheels
Cheer up the homebound. Thoughtfully decorated placemats are a lovely extra to bring to meal recipients. If you’re able to laminate the placemats, all the better!
Cost: Less than $5.00
3. Deliver Meals For Meals On Wheels
Help fight hunger. Pick up and deliver meals to seniors and people with disabilities.
Cost: Less than $5.00