Small Group Curriculum

Gaining Wisdom

11.18.18

PREPARATION

STUDY | Spend the week studying 1 Kings 3:3–13. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.

PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.

LANDING POINT | God gives wisdom when we humbly ask for it.

Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion

  1. Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  2. No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
  3. No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
  4. Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group. 

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

WALKING IN WISDOM

Life is complicated, full of perplexing questions and tough decisions. And we want answers. We want guidance in making tough decisions. We want life to be ordered and manageable, not a chaotic mess. As much as we want it to be, life is rarely neatly ordered and easy to navigate.

We are limited. We don’t have all the knowledge and education necessary to address every unique situation in life. We need help. We need a guide. We need a map to help navigate the complexities of life.

Wisdom begins and ends with God. He is our guide and His Word is our map. He is the source of all wisdom, and we cannot gain true wisdom without knowing Him. The Bible urges you to “get wisdom” because it puts you on a path to real life and joy. John Piper puts it this way:

When the Bible says, “Get wisdom,” it is referring to that practical knowledge of how to attain true and lasting happiness. It begins with the fear of the Lord and consists in humbly hearing and doing God’s will perceived both in Scripture and in the unique circumstances of the moment. Such wisdom is essential because the person who has it finds life and joy, but the person who doesn’t finds death and misery. Therefore, “Get wisdom! Get wisdom!”1

Q: Where can life be most complicated and perplexing to you?

Q: Why is understanding the source of wisdom important in gaining it?


LEARN

Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.

SOLOMON’S HUMBLE REQUEST

Solomon had established himself as king over Israel. As he sat in power over a nation, his crown weighed heavy upon his head. The thought of leading God’s people as their ruler was daunting. He loved God and wanted to honor Him and honor his father, David. But he was just a man. How could he possibly be up to the task? Then God came to Solomon with an offer unlike any other.

One night when the king was in Gibeon, God visited Solomon in a dream. The Lord said to him, “Ask whatever you want and I’ll give it to you.” Solomon could have asked for fame and glory. He could have asked to be rich and live a long life. Instead, Solomon asked for something even greater. He told God, “Lord, you are loving and faithful. I’m in charge of an entire nation, and I can’t do it without you. Therefore, give me wisdom that I may lead this people like you.”

Read: 1 Kings 3:3–13. Split into pairs and retell the story in your own words.

Q: What can you learn about godly leadership from Solomon in this story?

GOD’S GENEROUS RESPONSE

Solomon’s request pleased God. He saw the king’s heart and knew he was humble. God told the Solomon, “I will give you what you desire, but I will also give you everything you didn’t ask for. You will be wise, wiser than any man who ever lived. And I will also give you riches and honor so your fame as king will be unsurpassed.”

Q: Solomon experienced God’s pleasure. Where do you experience God’s pleasure?

Q: How would you explain that wisdom is worth seeking above riches, fame and power?


LIVE

Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.

There is much we can learn about wisdom from Solomon’s encounter with God. From his story we learn about: 1) wisdom’s foundation, 2) what you need to gain wisdom and 3) what wisdom gives you.

THE FOUNDATION OF WISDOM

God’s love is the foundation of wisdom. Wisdom comes because of who God is. God gives wisdom because He is loving and generous to give it, not because we are good and deserve it. We are anything but deserving, but God is gracious to give us the gift of wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

God is delighted when you come to him with your needs. Ask for wisdom and He will give it to you, because His character is loving and generous to those in need.

Q: How does God show His love by giving you wisdom?

ONE NECESSARY QUALITY

Solomon didn’t appeal to his position as king. He didn’t think he was any better than those over whom he ruled. He knew he couldn’t lead God’s people without God’s guidance and understanding. Solomon stood before God with a humble heart.

Humility is the prerequisite for gaining wisdom. What is humility? Humility is “being free from arrogance and pride and having an accurate estimate of one’s worth.”2 Humility isn’t looking down on yourself. It’s seeing yourself in a right way. You can’t have wisdom without humility. A humble heart receives wisdom. A proud heart rejects it. God gives grace to the humble, but he opposes the proud (James 4:6).

Q: Describe someone whom you view as truly humble.

WHAT WISDOM DOES

As you gain wisdom, something happens. Your heart becomes tender toward God. Wisdom’s reward is a heart that is soft and responsive to God. Wisdom softens your heart to hear God’s Word and discern what is the right thing to think or do in a given situation. It makes you more sensitive to God’s leading and how you can honor Him. A tender heart is a hearing heart.

If you want to walk in wisdom, be humble and let God make your heart tender toward Him.

Q: Where does your heart need to be more tender right now?

Q: What’s one thing you can start doing this week to walk in wisdom?


LEAD

Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.

GO TO THE SOURCE

God’s wisdom gives us principles for living, but His wisdom is more than principles. True wisdom is found in a person, Jesus Christ. He is the source of all wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). He is the greatest teacher of wisdom (Proverbs 2:1–6; Matthew 7:13–14). He gives wisdom (2 Corinthians 3:3). Faith in Christ enables us to know the beginning of wisdom, which is the “fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7).3

Q: How is God’s wisdom different from other types of wisdom based on principles?

GIVING WISDOM TO OTHERS

As God generously gives you wisdom, you are to generously give it to others. There are people out there who need to hear God’s wisdom from you. God wants to use you to spread His wisdom to others. God gets glory when you receive His wisdom and pass it on to others. God wants to use you to help someone else enjoy real life and joy in Him through the wisdom you have to offer.

Q: Name one person you can share the wisdom of Jesus with this week.


PRAY

Where do you need God’s wisdom most right now? Ask God for it. He will generously give it to you. Pray for someone specific who needs to discover Jesus Christ, the true source of wisdom.


FOLLOW UP

Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:

  • Read James 3:13–18 and reflect on what James says about the wisdom that comes from God.
  • Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.

COMMENTARY

Why Was Solomon in Gibeon?

Gibeon was “Israel’s most important high place at the time; six miles (9.7 kilometers) northwest of Jerusalem (cf. Josh. 9:3–10:15; 2 Sam. 2; 21:1–9). Its hosting of the tabernacle and the altar of burnt offering after the Philistines destroyed Shiloh (1 Sam. 4:11–22) may account for its unique importance (1 Chron. 21:29; 2 Chron. 1:2–6).”4

Concern for Others

What motivated Solomon’s prayer? It wasn’t a concern for his own needs. The king revealed his true character by asking God for wisdom to lead God’s people. He didn’t want wisdom just to be personally successful. He wanted wisdom that would bene t and make God’s people prosper.5 What’s your motivation in gaining wisdom, personal gain or being a blessing to others?

Wisdom Literature in the Bible

Wisdom literature in the Bible is “a genre of writing featuring wise sayings and astute observations. These writings teach how to live according to such principles as intelligence, understanding, common sense, statecraft, and practical skills.”6 Most of the wisdom literature in the Bible is found in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job.

Each of these books explores the basic question, what does it look like to live a good life? Proverbs teaches us about God’s character and wisdom, which can guide us through life in a variety of areas. Sometimes, bad things happen to good and wise people. This is what Ecclesiastes addresses. Ecclesiastes shows us that we must trust God instead of trusting ourselves. Job wrestles with the question of why a wise God would let terrible things happen to an innocent man. God answers Job and shows him that his suffering is one page of a larger story God is writing in the universe through His wisdom.7

 


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ENDNOTES:
1. John Piper, “Get Wisdom” (sermon, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN, May 24, 1981), https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/get-wisdom.
2. Gary Hardin, “Humility,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 792.
3. Matt Smethurst, “Tim Keller Wants to Help You Become Wise: Gleaning Daily Wisdom from Proverbs,” The Gospel Coalition, November 6, 2017, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/keller-wants-to-help-you-become-wise/.
4. D. A. Carson, ed., NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 607.
5. Dale Ralph Davis, 1 Kings: The Wisdom and the Folly, Focus on the Bible Commentary (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2002), 37.
6. David K. Stabnow, “Wisdom Literature,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1677.
7. “Wisdom Series: About Wisdom Literature,” The Bible Project, accessed November 1, 2018, https://thebibleproject.com/explore/wisdom-series/.