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Wailing Wisdom

Reader comment on item: Insight into Obama's Middle East Policy?

Submitted by Mark Huey (United States), Dec 30, 2008 at 14:19

Wailing Wisdom

Back in July when Obama visited Jerusalem, he went to the Wailing Wall and traditionally placed this simple and concise written prayer in the wall:

"Lord. Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."

After ascribing the prayer to "Lord," presumably the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the agency of his professed Christian faith persuasion, he first asks for protection for his immediate family and himself. He then asks for forgiveness and prays for help with his two acknowledged and perhaps besetting personal sins of pride and despair. Next he pleads for wisdom to do what is right and just. Finally, he humbly asks to be an instrument of God's will.

Recognizing that God providentially places people in positions of political power and influence according to Daniel 2:21, there is an excellent possibility that God will use Obama as an instrument of His will:

"Daniel said, "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. "It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. "It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him" (Daniel 2:20-22).

While protection and confession of sins should be ongoing prayers, is it possible that the request for the wisdom to do what is right and just is being granted as he prepares to take the reigns of power in Washington? Certainly, one aspect of the wisdom espoused in the Book of Proverbs is being followed, as Obama obviously has learned over the years to consult with an abundance of counselors on just about every significant issue currently concerning the United States:

"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. Wisdom is too exalted for a fool. He does not open his mouth in the gate" (Proverbs 24:3-7).

In this reference that speaks to the blessings of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, with a veiled reference to waging war, the passage concludes with the admonition for the fool to NOT open his mouth in the gate. Of course, part of being foolish rather than wise is not having enough information in order to make prudent decisions or judgments. Historically, the "gate" can be considered the place where kings rule or judges adjudicate. Today, given the current predicament in Gaza between the Israelis and Hamas, the "gates" would be Jerusalem, Ramallah, or to certain extend concerning American interests in the conflict, Washington D. C. So in many respects, the fact that Obama is remaining relatively silent on the matter, probably consulting a multitude of knowledgeable advisors and counselors is displaying significant wisdom on his part.

The current Gaza predicament and how to wisely handle conflict during a time of transition to new governing regimes in the United States next month and possibly in Israel this spring is reminiscent of another time of power transfer in ancient Israel, when wisdom to rule becomes evident (Read 1 Kings 1-4). When King David died and had his son Solomon anointed to become the new king, there was considerable political intrigue and tension in Israel and the surrounding region. After the justifiable executions of those disloyal to David, Solomon consolidates his power by marrying the Egyptian pharaoh's daughter and participating in a thousand sacrificial offerings at high places in Gibeon, the traditional stronghold of the previous ruling family of King Saul. (While disassociating with despicable characters in Chicago are not exactly executions, and paying homage to the religious right by choosing one of their own to participate in the inauguration helps appease former enemies, the parallels are perhaps vague but intriguing nonetheless.)

As the historical Israel account continues, there is a dramatic display of sacrificial offerings at the high place altars that Solomon reportedly has a dream where he was confronted by the Holy One of Israel. During this dream, Solomon was given the choice of long life, riches, honor, or the life of his enemies. Instead he chose to have the wisdom to rule over the people of Israel. According to the recorded dream, God not only gave him the wisdom, but because he sought wisdom rather than the other trappings of power, God granted him all that was offered. (We know from Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Fathers, that dreams play a big role in his life, What he specifically received during his childhood or young adulthood, or perhaps recently after partying on the hills overlooking Kailua Bay is open to conjecture.)

It is at this point in the Biblical narrative that the similarity between Solomon receiving wisdom and Obama receiving wisdom takes an interesting turn of events. The young King Solomon reveals his dream and then goes to the gates in Jerusalem. There is a great feast with burnt and peace offerings (almost like an inauguration ceremony and inaugural balls) and seemingly immediately, Solomon is confronted by a situation that requires his wisdom to solve a problem:

Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and made peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants. Then two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him" (1 Kings 3:15-16).

The story of the two harlots and how Solomon solves the dilemma about who should receive the living child absolutely solidifies Solomon's rule in Israel. The Scripture records that the people of Israel were in fear or basically awed by God's wisdom to administer justice:

"When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice" (1 Kings 3:28).

For the past sixty plus years, speaking with dysphemism, the world has watched two harlots live side by side in what has traditionally been known as the Holy Land. For decades, both have slept with different paying customers. Pregnancies were avoided by spilled seed (contraceptives) or out right abortions. Lamentably, in the past few years, and specifically during the Bush administration (June 2002), both harlots have become pregnant with the concept of dividing the land and having two separate and distinct offspring carved out of the same territory. The impatient world watches as the gestation period before delivery has no predetermined or known timeframe. Although various factions are seeking by forceful or diplomatic means to induce labor the problem is whether either progeny could survive outside of their violated but willing wombs. There is the distinct possibility that in the dark of the night, one of the harlots might roll over and suffocate the new born state. On the other hand, to surgically bifurcate a newly created entity, by amputating critical life sustaining components when the umbilical cord is severed does not make much sense either.

As you can see, wisdom in handling these delicate pregnancies is critical, especially when one has historical antecedents like in the case of Rebekah's righteous pregnancy, when the twin children struggled in her womb. While these current unholy and to many unwanted pregnancies struggle inside and outside of the womb, the challenges confronting the various voices at the governmental gates are confounding, crying out for clarity and resolution.

"Who wants half of a dead baby?" (or two failed or failing states)

"Don't cut the baby in half; let it live as is…let her have it…I cannot stand to see the baby die!"

We have read or heard those cries before. Do we hear any of them now?

If there was ever an opportunity to strike awe in your population and indeed a Godly fear in the spectators of the world, this would be it. If someone could come up with a solution to this age old Holy Land problem, he or she would be heralded as a miracle worker. (Hillary and Bill are waiting in the wings.)

The question is can Obama wait on the Lord. He asked for the wisdom to do what was right and just. Is he the one to hear a voice of reason from his multitude of counselors or perchance in a dream receive a Godly solution or will he resort to earthly wisdom that comes from below?

"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:13-18).

Time will tell. In the meanwhile, let us all pray that the wisdom from above will bring lasting peace to the region so that any wailing at the wall will be for joy and not sorrow.


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