Sunday, April 7, 2019

Shazam!



My family and I saw Shazam last night and I loved it! A brighter and more light-hearted addition to the DC cinematic universe, Shazam spotlights a troubled teenager named Billy Batson, an aloof and angry orphan who bounces around from one foster family to another until he winds up with the Vasquezes, a loving couple with several other adopted children. Although Billy struggles to fit in, his new family begins growing on him. While trying to protect one of his foster brothers, Billy leads some bullies on a chase through downtown Philadelphia. After seeking safety in a subway car, Billy is suddenly whisked away to the Rock of Eternity where he meets an ancient and powerful wizard. Seeing the boy’s potential, the Wizard selects Billy to become his champion, Shazam!  Whenever Billy utters the magic word, shazam, he instantly transforms into an adult with amazing superpowers.

The name Shazam is an acronym indicating the source of Billy’s magical powers. SHAZAM stands for the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. While this is certainly an impressive roster of powerful mythological heroes, only one of them is a real, historical figure—Solomon.

Compared to the power of Zeus and strength of Hercules, the wisdom of Solomon might not seem so impressive, but it may just be Shazam’s most valuable superpower. In an issue of Action Comics, an ancient Egyptian goddess threatens to unleash a plague of frogs on Metropolis.   When Superman is at a loss to combat this magical menace, Shazam comes to the rescue. As the heroes fly into the fray, Superman questions, “This is part of a plan?” Shazam replies, “Solomon always has a plan.” Once the two heroes encounter the Egyptian frog goddess, Heqt, rather than engage in battle, Shazam begins negotiating with her. Superman watches in awe. “Armed with the wisdom of Solomon,” Superman thinks, “a teenage boy in the body of a man defends humankind to the goddess of all frogs. I can’t think of anything more ludicrous.” But as the deliberation continues, Shazam eloquently explains humanity’s needs and weaknesses. He also listens and empathizes until Heqt feels heard and appeased. In the end, Shazam triumphs without throwing a single superpowered punch. Wisdom prevailed where physical force failed.

As Shazam demonstrates, wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge and experience to everyday life. Wisdom helps us make good decisions and life choices. Wisdom can prevent difficult situations from developing or getting worse. Wise living generally leads to greater peace, success, and joy. The Bible says, “Wisdom is more precious than rubies” (Proverbs 3:15 NLT).

King Solomon became a living legend because he recognized the value of wisdom. Soon after Solomon became king of Israel, God appeared to him and offered to grant one request: “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” (2 Chronicles 1:7 NLT). Solomon could have asked for anything—limitless wealth, unrivaled power, anything imaginable. Instead, Solomon asked for wisdom, the wisdom to lead God’s people. So, God granted his request. The Bible says, “God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt… And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.” (1 Kings 4:29-34 NLT).

You and I will never have the speed of Mercury or the stamina of Atlas, but wisdom is one superpower we can possess. In fact, the Bible encourages us to seek wisdom the same way Solomon did—by asking for it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5 NIV). 

Additionally, Solomon wrote page after page of proverbs intended to impart wisdom. He wrote, “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser” (Proverbs 1:5 NLT). Through prayer and the patient study of Proverbs (along with other books of the Bible), you and I can attain the wisdom of Solomon just like Shazam, and you don’t even have to meet a mystical wizard or say a magic word!

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