Wisdom
By Susan E. Todd
(Proverbs)

Wisdom is mentioned 54 times in the book of Proverbs. As you read each verse carefully you will notice that the word understanding is closely associated with wisdom. It also appears 54 times in the book of Proverbs. Wisdom and understanding appear together 24 times. So the first question you should be asking is what is the connection between wisdom and understanding?

First let's look at the meaning of each word. (Our definitions will be taken from two sources. Reader's Digest Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary, c 1987 and Noah Webster's First Edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language, c 1828.)

WISDOM:

  • Enlightened understanding of what is true or right, usually acquired through long experience, as distinguished from a partial or specialized knowledge.
  • Common sense; good judgment.
  • Accumulated learning.
  • Wise sayings or teaching. (Reader's Digest)
  • If wisdom is to be considered as a faculty of the mind, it is the faculty of discerning or judging what is most just, proper and useful. Wisdom.is nearly synonymous with discretion. Wisdom is the exercise of sound judgment either in avoiding evils or attempting good.
  • In Scriptural theology wisdom is.godliness, piety, the knowledge and fear of God, and sincere and uniform obedience to his commands. (Webster's)

UNDERSTANDING:

  • Comprehension.
  • Intelligence.
  • Individual or specified judgment or outlook in a matter, opinion; interpretation.
  • Having or characterized by comprehension, good sense, or discernment. (Reader's Digest)
  • The faculty of the human mind by which it apprehends the real state of things presented to it, or by which it receives or comprehends the ideas which others express and intend to communicate. It is the faculty by means of which we obtain a great part of our knowledge.
  • Comprehending; apprehending the ideas or sense of another, or of a writing; learning or being informed. (Webster's)

What exactly is the connection between these two words? As you can see from the above definitions it has to do with good sense, sound judgment and discernment. As my husband always says, "If God is a Trinity then He will manifest Himself in Trinities in the Bible." How we have seen this over and over again. Here is yet another example of that principle. Look at the following two verses.

(Proverbs 2:6) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

(Proverbs 9:10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Now let's go to our dictionaries again and see what they give as a definition for knowledge.

KNOWLEDGE:

  • Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.
  • The sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned.
  • Specific information about something. (Reader's Digest)
  • A clear and certain perception of that which exists, or of truth and fact. We can have no knowledge of that which does not exist. God has a perfect knowledge of all his works. Human knowledge is very limited, and is mostly gained by observation and experience.
  • Learning; illumination of mind. (Webster's)

We have seen that wisdom and understanding appear to go hand in hand. In the two verses quoted above they are joined by knowledge. But a person can have knowledge and not have wisdom and understanding. How? Knowledge deals with the head and wisdom and understanding deal with the heart.

Almost everyone, including atheists, believe in Jesus Christ in one form or another. This is head knowledge. But belief in Jesus is not enough to save you. You must believe ON Jesus to be saved. (Acts 16:30-31) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. This is heart knowledge.

First we have wisdom and then understanding and now we have knowledge. Three things. A Trinity. Let's look at this a little more closely. The Bible says in 1 Samuel 2:3, "Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. God represents knowledge."

(1 Corinthians 1:22-24) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

(1 Corinthians 1:30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

Jesus Christ represents wisdom. So now if God represents knowledge and Jesus Christ represents wisdom then to complete our Trinity the Holy Spirit must represent understanding. Let's see if He does.

(1 Corinthians 2:10-14) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 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.

Remember our definition of understanding? Having discernment. Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to discern or UNDERSTAND the things of God.

Does the Holy Spirit represents understanding? Was there ever any question? Of course He does.

Now how do we get wisdom? Where does it come from? The people of Jesus' day asked the same thing of Him?

(Matthew 13:54) And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

(Mark 6:2) And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

The Bible is very clear about the source of wisdom. Look again at Proverbs 2:6 "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." Now what better source could there be than that? The only problem is whether we choose to use the wisdom that God gives us. And that should not pose a problem at all for those who claim Jesus Christ as their Saviour and want to follow God. The Bible tells us to walk in wisdom in Colossians 4:5 "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time."

Now let's look at some of the things that the Bible talks about in connection with wisdom.

COMPANIONS OF WISDOM

understandingProverbs 4:5,7; 17:24
justice Proverbs 1:3; 10:31
knowledgeProverbs 2:6
discretionProverbs 3:21
prudenceProverbs 8:12; 14:8
strengthProverbs 8:14
honourProverbs 15:33

ENEMIES OF WISDOM

prideProverbs 11:2; 13:10
foolsProverbs 1:7; 10:23
shameProverbs 11:2
scorningProverbs 14:6
deceitProverbs 14:8
follyProverbs 15:21
happinessProverbs 3:13
restProverbs 14:33
kindnessProverbs 31:26
humilityProverbs 11:2

Don't be an enemy of wisdom.

In Proverbs chapter 8 verse one through chapter 9 verse 6 wisdom is personified as a woman. As you look at these verses you will see wisdom referred to as "she" with many personal pronouns attributed to it (I, me, mine, and my).

Let's look at this passage verse by verse and see if we can understand what is being said although most of it is pretty self-explanatory.

(Proverbs 8:1-5) Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

Here we see wisdom pleading with us to listen to her. We don't have to look very far to find her. She can be found almost anywhere proclaiming her message.

(Proverbs 8:6-9) Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

You can trust what she says. She will not lie and she will not lead you astray.

(Proverbs 8:10-12) Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

Wisdom is better than what the world has to offer (gold, silver and precious stones). Solomon knew this. He didn't asked for the things the world could offer. He knew better. He asked for wisdom. He asked for the things of God.

(1 Kings 3:5-10) In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

Solomon was humble before God. He was not proud.

(1 Kings 3:11-14) And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.

God gave Solomon the riches of the world on top of wisdom.

(1 Kings 4:29-30) And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.

Solomon asked for and was given wisdom and understanding.

Now look at the account given in the book of Chronicles.

(2 Chronicles 1:10-12) Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

Wait a minute. In First Kings Solomon asked for wisdom and understanding and in Second Chronicles he asked for wisdom and knowledge. Is that a contradiction? No! The Bible does not contradict itself.

The four gospels give different accounts of the same stories concerning the life of Christ. But they do not contradict each other. They compliment each other. So we have the same thing happening here. These two books tell us the same story and together they give us a complete account.

Solomon was given knowledge (God the Father), wisdom (God the Son) and understanding (God the Holy Spirit).

(Proverbs 8:13) The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

This is nothing new. The Bible has much to say about both pride and the tongue. It is all good advice and should be heeded.

(Proverbs 8:14-16) Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

Kings and princes and nobles and judges could not nor should not rule and reign properly without wisdom. Being smart is not the same as having wisdom.

(Proverbs 8:17) I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

This is a great truth. The Bible talks about this in the gospels (Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9). If we seek wisdom then we will find it. But we will only see it with our spiritual eyes. If you are not right with God then you will not be able to see spiritual things. (1 Corinthians 2:14) 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.

(Proverbs 8:18-21) Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

We are not talking about material wealth here. Durable riches are spiritual gifts. (Galatians 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Ephesians 5:9) (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Now for any "women's libbers" out there who think that God is a "female type person" let me say this to you with all the love I can muster up for some ridiculous "theory" like that. YOU ARE WICKED. Because I said that wisdom is personified as a woman in these two chapters of Proverbs do not be so STUPID as to think that this proves that God or Jesus Christ or even the Holy Spirit is a woman. That is RANK HERESY and not what I am implying. To even think that is BLASPHEMY. Nice try but go peddle your crap somewhere else. Jesus Christ is the SON of God. Nowhere in Scripture is any member of the Trinity referred to in the feminine gender unless you are reading a "modern perversion." Shame on you. Get a King James Bible and get the truth.

In closing let me leave you with a few more verses from Proverbs concerning wisdom.

(Proverbs 8:32-36) Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

(Proverbs 9:4-6) Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.