This passage is a celebration of God’s endowment of great wisdom upon Solomon. It also celebrates the broader theme of God’s ordering of creation according to a majestic, divine design. God has infused his wisdom, as it were, into the very structure of material reality. And he has equipped the human race, created in his image, with the ability (the intellectual machinery) to, as German mathematician Johann Kepler (1571–1630) said, “think God’s thoughts after him,” in order to develop creation’s potential (note especially 1Ki 4:32–33). We as God’s designated stewards have been called to faithfully and intelligently cultivate creation’s potential. God wants us to varying degrees, based on the particular aptitudes and strengths with which he has gifted each of us, to draw out the fruitfulness of creation through engineering, entrepreneurship, development, intellectual understanding, the arts and so forth.
Bible scholar J. Richard Middleton depicts God the Creator as both a grand architect and a consummate artist:
Superimposed on and integrated with the picture of God speaking creation into being is the metaphor of God as designer and artificer, constructing with care, attention, obvious pleasure, and self-investment (as a good artist) a coherent, harmoniously functioning cosmos, according to a well-thought-out plan. This characterization of God as maker or artisan is rhetorically embodied in the superb literary artistry of the creation story, which moves from a preparatory statement in [Genesis] 1:1–2, through six “days” of God’s work, to the seventh climactic day (2:1–3), when God “rested” (šābat), satisfied, having completed his work.
Middleton goes on to articulate part of his understanding of the complexity of the imago Dei (“image of God”) as it pertains to humanity’s interactions with the created world:
[C]areful exegesis of Genesis 1:26–28 … does indeed suggest that the imago Dei refers to human rule, that is, the exercise of power on God’s behalf in creation. This may be articulated in two different, but complementary ways. Said one way, humans are like God in exercising royal power on earth. Said in another way, the divine ruler delegated to humans a share in his rule of the earth. Both are important ways of expressing the meaning of the imago Dei. The first expression—the notion of likeness to the divine ruler—suggests the image as “representational,” indicating a similarity or analogy between God and humans. The second expression—the delegation of, or sharing in, God’s rule—suggests the image as “representative,” designating the responsible office and task entrusted to humanity in administering the earthly realm on God’s behalf. But these expressions are not simply alternative; they are integrally connected.
Think About It
How is God’s wisdom a part of our physical reality?
In what ways are intellectual pursuits a part of God’s calling?
How can people steward God’s creation through understanding it?
Pray About It
Lord, you have a unique calling for each of us. Those of us who seek and pursue the wisdom found in your creation—in any vocation or avocation of life—need your guidance to fulfill our role in your grand design.