The LORD blessed Solomon with earthly wisdom which was above that of all of the inhabitants of the Earth in which he lived. The Queen of Sheba upon visiting him and setting forth many questions, said of him, “It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.” (1Kings 10:6-7) Yet as wise as Solomon was in the ways of the world and in the measure of wisdom which the LORD gave him, he nonetheless demonstrated that the natural wisdom of men cannot deliver a man from his own innate corruption. For we see Solomon, in his later years, falling victim to idolatry and blatant disobedience to the Law of the LORD. He fulfilled the prophecy of his own lips: “The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?” (Eccl 10:12-14) The wise man of the world showed himself to be foolish.
Thus the LORD points out the folly of the men of this world who will not submit themselves unto HIMSELF as the WISDOM of GOD, when HE speaks of the quest of the “Queen of the South (i.e.; Sheba)” to hear Solomon’s wisdom, “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” (Mat 12:42) If she sought wisdom (albeit earthly) from the lips of a flawed king, how much more ought men to seek the WISDOM of HIM who has been sent into the world to rule and reign over HIS righteous kingdom, forever.
Paul describes the natural folly of men and their inability to grasp the TRUTH of GOD apart from DIVINE grace in opening their eyes. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor 2:14) That man who is not “born again” (i.e.; the natural man) cannot “see the Kingdom of GOD”. Thus, Paul sets forth the contrast between those who are given grace to “hear” the gospel of the glory of the blessed GOD, and those who are not. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish (i.e.; those who will not and cannot believe) foolishness; but unto us which are saved (i.e.; those who are born again being the heirs of salvation according to the purpose of GOD), it is the power of God.” (not of works lest any man should boast) (1Cor 1:18)
The LORD demonstrates HIS glory when HE hides the TRUTH from the “wise and prudent.” (i.e.; those who think themselves to have no need of GOD’s WISDOM, being satisfied with their own). “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1Cor 1:19-20) The LORD will destroy the “wise men” of the world according to their own corrupt hearts which will not seek HIM. HE will manifest their folly as they despise the very means whereby HE is pleased to bring “LIFE and IMMORTALITY to LIGHT.” (see II Tim.1:10) “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom (i.e.; the reason of natural men) knew not God (i.e.; lacking the ability), it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1Cor 1:21)
The “preaching of the gospel”, seems a quaint and rather useless endeavor to the natural man, most especially to the moralistic religionists who consider that practical teaching, moral platitudes, and psychological counseling are of much greater value. They are completely opposed to the clear and singular declaration of a sovereign GOD who has demonstrated HIS particular love for HIS elect bride in purchasing her eternal redemption by HIS sacrifice on Calvary. They much prefer (in their own wisdom) a “gospel” (so called) which is an offer of salvation which all men are able to accept or reject, to the true gospel which declares that the LORD has an elect people (HIS sheep) which HE will seek and save, losing none of those whom the FATHER has given HIM.
In their “wisdom” they much prefer a god who must wait and see what men will do. They find it to be “unbalanced” to declare the glory of HIM who says, “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isa 45:5-7) In their wisdom, they think that they can aid HIM, thwart HIS plans, and overturn HIS purpose by their own free will.
Paul would preach no other “gospel” (for there is but one true gospel) than that which declares the finished work of CHRIST as the HOPE of those who are saved. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews(i.e.; those who love religion) a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness. (i.e.; those who revel in their intellect)” (1Cor 1:23) Paul did not declare CHRIST plus some endeavor of man, nor did he give men any reason to hope in anything less than that work of CHRIST wherein HE “hath obtained eternal redemption.” HE has not made salvation merely possible, but rather certain by that which HE alone has performed in the behalf of those sinners which HE has loved with an everlasting love, and will manifest in the Earth as those who call upon HIS NAME and believe on HIM.
That man who is not born again, by the work of the SPIRIT of GOD upon him, must regard the TRUTH of the Gospel as “absurd” or “foolish”. Thus, he would consider such to be the “foolishness of GOD.” The TRUE and LIVING GOD does not appeal to either the intellect or the religious fancy of men, nor does HE ever endeavor to convince them through those means. For that which they consider “foolish” is in reality much “wiser” than either their intellect or their religious fancy.
David declared it in this fashion, “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” (Psa 115:3) HE has no limitations nor any parameters which HE has left for men to decide upon. HE does not show mercy to the upright but rather to sinners. HE does not call the righteous but rather the ungodly. HE does not reward men according to their endeavors, but all of the blessings which HE bestows are given to CHRIST who gives gifts according to HIS sovereign pleasure. CHRIST alone is the RIGHTEOUSNESS of HIS people. They are not received because they “accept” HIM but rather because HE accepts them. “We love HIM because HE first loved us.”
The strength of CHRIST was demonstrated in HIS “weakess”, as HE poured out HIS soul unto death in the behalf of those who had no strength, triumphing over all of HIS enemies. “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.” (Isa 63:5-6)
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Rom 5:6-9) Can there be anything more “absurd” to the natural thinking of men, than this gospel? Who is sufficient for such things? Who has known the mind of the LORD or been HIS counsellor? Do you consider yourself wise or a fool for CHRIST’s sake”?