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  • Reverend James Squire

Ring of Wisdom

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

The Biblical record states that Solomon was the wisest of all men. The story that many know about him in gaining this recognition is found in the book of 1 Kings 3:16-28. In this passage Solomon must determine the real mother of a baby claimed by two women. He sent his servant to get a sword. He said that he would cut the child in half and give each woman half of the baby. One of the women pleaded, “Give the child to her!”. Solomon responded, “You must be the mother!”

There is another story about Solomon’s wisdom that is not as well known. Its origin has been speculated to come from several different possible sources. Some believe that its author was Rumi, a Persian poet, Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic. Others feel that it is part of Jewish folk lore and was found first there. We do know that Lincoln used the famous phrase included in Solomon’s Ring Story in an address before he became the 16th President of the United States.

I will paraphrase the story of “Solomon’s Ring”. Solomon’s Chief of the Army was an arrogant man. As the story goes, Solomon gave him a task to introduce humility into the Army Chief’s life. He asked him to find a ring with an inscription “that would make happy people, sad and sad people, happy.” (Spoiler alert) If you don’t know the story, stop and think of a possible answer.

The officer came upon a merchant who was putting out his things to sell. He asked, “Have you ever heard of a magic ring that is inscribed with words that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and a brokenhearted man forget his sorrows?” The merchant replied, “Yes!”. He then showed the officer the ring inscribed in it were the words, “This Too Will Pass.”

The inscription did as the king requested making happy people, sad and sad people, happy. The inscribed words did something more. They spoke to the impermanence of life and that what was really important was to live life as though today was the last day of your life. The message of the inscription was also to realize that things and external acclaim are not as important as the people around us. Live in the moment! Focus your love on others!

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher offered a corollary to the inscription when he stated: “You can’t step into the same river twice.” You change and the river changes. That is the nature of life.

This year’s winner of the Icon Award for the Peoples’ Choice Awards was multi-talented Jennifer Lopez. She began by acknowledging the difficult journey for all of us this year. The Covid-19 virus touched every part of the fabric of the world. She went on to say that (I paraphrase) “Before the Pandemic, people were focused on what one could achieve as successes, and what awards could be won. People were obsessed with things. The Pandemic taught me a lot, namely that your character and the people who you love and who love you are what is really important and what will last.

If there is one phrase that fits as a perfect theme to describe what we all could learn this year, it is what was inscribed in that ring requested by God’s wise man, Solomon, “This too will pass!”, both the good and the bad! Remembering that phrase could help us move through this year of struggle and disease because it it a universal truth that binds us all together.

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