Solomon, king of Israel, was a man of remarkable learning. The Bible describes him as having great interest and understanding in scientific disciplines. Solomon understood the movement of the prevailing winds about the earth and the hydrological cycle that brings rain (Ecclesiastes 1:6-7 Ecclesiastes 1:6-7 6 The wind goes toward the south, and turns about to the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to his circuits.
7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; to the place from where the rivers come, thither they return again.
American King James Version×). He was a horticulturist, creating a great assortment of vineyards, gardens and orchards (Ecclesiastes 2:4-5 Ecclesiastes 2:4-5 4 I made me great works; I built me houses; I planted me vineyards: 5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:
American King James Version×).
He was something of a botanist and zoologist, understanding plants, animals, birds, insects and fish (1 Kings 4:33 1 Kings 4:33And he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall: he spoke also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
American King James Version×). He was a student of psychology, sociology and human relations, as demonstrated by the subject matter of the book of Proverbs.
But Solomon eventually realized that all his scientific, material knowledge did not bring him satisfaction. His life grew hollow and unsatisfying. His concentration on scientific knowledge, without proper emphasis on God’s spiritual knowledge and understanding, rendered life meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 16 I communed with my own heart, saying, See, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yes, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.
American King James Version×). He concluded, after much retrospection, that a man must put the knowledge of God first: “This is the end of the matter: you have heard it all. Fear God and obey his commandments; this sums up the duty of mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 Ecclesiastes 12:13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
American King James Version×, Revised English Bible).
Moses is another example of a man trained in the physical sciences but blessed with spiritual understanding. Moses was educated “in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22 Acts 7:22And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
American King James Version×). With the guidance of God he could separate the good from the bad, and undoubtedly his early education was of great help in his life of fulfilling God’s calling to lead his fellow Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and to govern a nation.
Other men of God were educated in the intellectual pursuits of their day. The prophet Daniel was a brilliant student brought up in the royal academy of the Babylonians (Daniel 1:4 Daniel 1:4Children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
American King James Version×). The Babylonian Empire of Daniel’s day dominated the world and was scientifically advanced, particularly in astronomy.
Daniel apparently saw no conflict between the scientific truths the Babylonians had discovered and the knowledge of God that he had held from his youth. Indeed, he thrived, serving rulers of the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires as a high-ranking government official. Daniel’s education did not undermine his faith in God. He knew God’s Word to be true and inviolable and saw no conflict between scientific knowledge and Scripture.
We must study the Scriptures to gain eternal life (John 5:39 John 5:39Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
American King James Version×). But, as time and inclination allow, we should study the physical sciences as well. In so doing we will gain a deeper appreciation of the world our Creator has made and increase our faith and understanding of Him.
The apostle Paul understood that man stands to learn a great deal about His Creator by observing His creation: “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature—his eternal power and divine character—have been clearly perceptible through what he has made. So they have no excuse” (Goodspeed’s American Translation). The Wall Street Journal put it this way: “If a little science takes one away from God, a great deal of science brings one back to him” (Oct. 10, 1994).