“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom....” - Proverbs 3:13a
Wisdom, what is it? We live in a world with a lot of opinions. The person with the biggest following gets to decide what is meant by it. The Bible, however, talks a lot about wisdom. Thus, I would like to answer three questions: the what, the where and the why about wisdom using the Bible as my guide.
What is wisdom?
The word wisdom is defined as, the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgements. Therefore, wisdom is having the knowledge of something and making a decision, or judgement, which yields the best possible outcome for the deciding party. This looks different in every single circumstance.
Solomon applies the wisdom he has and decides to cut a baby in half (1 Kings 3:23-25). He read up on how to give one baby to two mothers and the best way to do that is to divide the baby in two, then both have a piece of the baby, problem solved. Well not quite, now we have a dead baby because it was cut in half. How is that wisdom? Yet Solomon was the wisest man?
Solomon defines wisdom in Proverbs 9:10 where he writes, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...”.
If you continue reading 1 Kings 3:26-28, Solomon suggests cutting the child in half, to provoke a response from the mother. In this case, the mother of the baby decided that her love was too great for him to let him die, she would rather let him live. Solomon did not gain this wisdom through reading a book or learning from past experiences. This was God-given.
Where does wisdom come from?
The wisdom gained from experience is much farther from the sought after wisdom that Solomon is referring to in Proverbs 3:13. Solomon authors the whole book of Proverbs to urge believers to pursue wisdom (Proverbs 4:1-11; Proverbs 3:16-18; Proverbs 8:32-35). Because it proves more valuable than silver or gold, rubies and in fact anything you will ever desire will not compare. Job asks God where this wisdom comes from but concludes that only God knows because he alone is the source of it (Job 28:12-28). Job ends this passage and gives the same definition as Solomon; wisdom is the fear of the Lord.
The Lord told Solomon that He will give him anything he desires; he answers by first glorifying God and then humbles himself before God through referring to his insignificance (1 Kings 3:6-9). With complete reverence towards God, Solomon asks for understanding to know how to govern His people and to discern between good and evil.
To fear God is to grow the attitude of humility and reverence towards God, to adopt a lifestyle of complete dependence on Him. It can be regarded as a holy fear. David cried out to God, that He would give him an undivided heart that he could fear His name (Psalm 86:11). Fearing God is acknowledging your place before an Almighty, All Powerful God. David knew the only way he was able to fear God was with a heart that is focused on one thing, God Himself. A heart focused on both the world and on God is divided. Jesus teaches His disciples that something divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:23-27).
Why do we need wisdom?
Therefore, we need the type of wisdom God gave to Solomon, not only to make decisions that honor and glorify God, but to live lives in complete humility and dependence on God. This wisdom empowered Solomon to make decisions that resulted in the well-being of God people. We need this wisdom to know how to apply the word of God in our lives and make decisions to govern His people well (yourself, family, connect group etc.).
How do you get this wisdom? James teaches us to ask God, because He is generous to give to anyone who asks (James 1:5). David and Solomon asked, and God gave.
Wisdom is gained through praying to God, not reading a book or past experiences. The “wisdom” the world offers is only focused on yourself, but the wisdom God gives, is focused on His people, including you. We need this wisdom to live sacrificial lives to God (Romans 12:1-2). To honor and glorify Him as the Almighty, All Powerful God.