We have all heard an instructor, teacher, professor, or lecturer say, “there is no such thing as a dumb question.” The intent is to make the students or hearers more comfortable to ask questions. While that statement is often made, on the other hand, when students are graded on participation, their questions are evaluated on how they contributed to the understanding (i.e., the education) of the topic. In other words, yes, there really are dumb questions. That being said, what are usually considered dumb questions are really ignorant, foolish, or purposefully disruptive (to the purpose of the venue).
Solomon asked for wisdom. Was that really a question in the context of the verse? Yes and no. In English, no, it isn’t a question. In context, however, it is. “Is it possible, God, that you would give me the wisdom and discernment to lead your people?” That really is the question. God answers in the affirmative. As we follow Solomon’s life, we do see that he stopped asking wise questions when it came to his wives and worship practices. In fact, it seems in that area he stopped asking questions at all.
Nebuchadnezzar asks some questions out of anger, pride, and offense (people in his immediate circle did not obey his law). We look at his questions and think they’re dumb. Think about it from his perspective. He made a gold statue to worship (no in-depth theology on this new god). Everyone will now suddenly worship it. In many respects, this sounds more like a civil religion than true religion. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t seem to really believe in the god he’d made nor the God of the Jews. In the midst of his anger, he was probably pretty confused.
Then we have the Sadducees. Really, the question they asked Jesus could have easily been asked of the Pharisees. In fact, this exact question was indeed probably asked of the Pharisees during theological discussions. Jesus gave a brilliant answer to their question, but their question wasn’t dumb. For people concerned with fulfilling the law correctly, this would be a matter that needed an answer. The consistency of their logic was sound.
Questions need answers, and we often judge our answers by what we perceive is the brilliance of others. Sometimes though, people just need their questions to be heard. They may not need an answer, but they may need a sounding board.