The Sources and Benefits
Access to Wisdom
Wisdom, Solomon said, has "built her house";
she has "furnished her table." She now "cries aloud" inviting the needy
to "eat and drink" what she has carefully prepared; to give heed to her
"thoughts" and "words." These are figurative expressions indicating what
scholars and scientists have long known. Namely, that knowledge comes through
patiently researching the laws of God in nature and holy Scripture. God
Himself is a spiritual being. He resides in a different realm. What we
know of him comes to us through various material manifestations.
We can know something of his glory and majesty
by observing the beauty and order of nature.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handywork (Psalms 19:1; KJV).
Ever since the creation of the world his
invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly
perceived in the things that have been made (Romans 1:20; RSV).
Seeing God's deity in nature is not done with
the naked eye; it is perceived with the mind, much as we perceive otherwise
invisible natural phenomena. For example, the ever-present force of gravity
is something every school child knows about, but it remained unrecognized
until three centuries ago. When the force was finally revealed by Newton,
its discovery was heralded as a milestone in the history of science. In
the same way, the Lord's wisdom is not readily apparent with our eyes,
and the Lord has his own lofty reasons why he does not make Himself and
his wisdom easily known. Solomon mentions one:
It is the glory of God to conceal a
thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter (Proverbs
The Lord has hidden his wisdom in the elements,
and it is an advantage for rulers to encourage research. Solomon assures
us the answers to our questions and the solutions to our problems do exist.
In fact, as we have seen, they are eagerly waiting for us to discover them.
Of course, the process is often slow and laborious, coming only by "the
sweat of our brow." Such is the case with mankind collectively, and so
it is with each of us individually. Life involves a struggle to know what
are the right and good things to do; but in the process, we develop a better
appreciation for the magnificent wisdom of God.
Philosophers, scholars, and scientists have
debated and tested many ways to aid in the search for knowledge and understanding.
They have developed many ingenious ways to unravel the mysteries of the
Lord in the world, and to uncover the latent knowledge we need to live
and progress. Much has already been uncovered. Over the centuries mankind
has been accumulating a vast reservoir of knowledge which is contained
either in records of various kinds or in the minds of knowledgeable people.
These sources of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding can be found whenever
and wherever there are opportunities to learn. Wisdom, Solomon said, can
be heard at these places:
in the streets in the chief place of
concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city (Proverbs 1:20-22;
in the top of high places, by the way
in the places of the paths at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the
coming in at the doors (Proverbs 8:2, 3; KJV).
What Solomon means by those words is that knowledge
is as freely available to us as food and drink. And it is no less essential
for our survival and good health. When we are young, the major source of
both our physical and our mental nurturance is our parents. Therefore,
Solomon repeatedly urged children to appreciate the value of parental wisdom,
and take advantage of that excellent resource.
Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
and reject not your mother's teaching (Proverbs 1:8; RSV).
My son receive my words, and lay up my
commandments with thee (Proverbs 2:I;ASV).
My son, forget not my law; but let thine
heart keep my commandments (Proverbs 3:1; KJV).
Hear, ye children, the instruction of
a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine,
forsake ye not my law. For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved
in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine
heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live (Proverbs 4:1-4;
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings
My son, attend to my words; incline thine
ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in
the midst of thine heart (Proverbs 4:20, 21; KJV).
My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow
thine ear to my understanding (Proverbs 5:1; KJV).
My son, keep thy father's commandment,
and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind them continually upon thine
heart, and tie them about thy neck (Proverbs 6:20, 21; KJV).
My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments
with thee. Keep my commandments, and live (Proverbs 7:1, 2; KJV).
Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children,
and attend to the words of my mouth (Proverbs 7:24; KJV).
Hearken unto thy father that begat thee,
and despise not thy mother when she is old (Proverbs 23:22; KJV).
My son, give me thine heart, and let thine
eyes observe my ways (Proverbs 23:26; KJV).
Of course, the Lord is the Father of us all
and the ultimate source of all our nurturance.
For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his
mouth cometh knowledge and understanding (KJV). He layeth up sound
wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to them that walk in integrity (ASV)
(Proverbs 2:6, 7).
The collective reservoir of human knowledge
is now very large, and there is no way for any individual to grasp it all.
Hence, we must be selective. Perhaps struggling to understanding too much
is like eating too much; it weighs a man down, and interferes with his
overall functioning. Also, perhaps becoming overly wise makes a man’s mind
too foreign to his friends and neighbors, thus provoking alienation. I
have not been able to think of anything else that the following words could
do not make yourself over wise; why
should you destroy yourself! (Ecclesiastes 7:16; RSV).
A more serious problem, however, is that our
library of human knowledge (like the world around us) is a jungle of conflict.
Too often truth and error are mixed up as a dark thicket. Virtually every
area of human endeavor not only contains knowledge generally recognized
(which may or may not be true), but there is also much in dispute. Therefore,
attempting to accept human knowledge indiscriminately is naive and childish;
it is like going out and eating whatever you can put in your mouth. Much
of what goes for knowledge is garbage at best and poison at worst. Consequently,
we must use prudence and caution, accepting only wise counsel and verified
knowledge, seeking to develop correct understanding.
Solomon advised to look for authentic truths
and sound wisdom. It can he seen wherever you find knowledge of "excellent
things," knowledge of clever inventions," information about the "ways of
righteousness" and the "paths of justice." (See Proverbs 8.) The Lord's
wisdom is about all things noble, constructive, and beneficial. It contributes
to the uplifting and advancement of mankind.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent
things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things (Proverbs
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find
out knowledge of witty inventions (Proverbs 8:12; KJV).
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am
understanding; I have strength (Proverbs 8:14; KJV).
It can be seen, for example, in the knowledge
men use to build and manufacture successfully. Notice how they create all
the precious goods of human enterprise.
Through wisdom is an house builded;
and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers
be filled with all precious and pleasant riches (Proverbs 24:3, 4;
The Lord's wisdom can also be seen at work in
the behavior of successful leaders and authorities. Whenever possible associate
with wise men, and learn from them. Notice how they attend to their affairs,
and reach their decisions. Solomon said their use of wisdom gives them
power to succeed:
By me kings reign, and princes decree
justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth
(Proverbs 8:15, 16; KJV).
He that walketh with wise men shall be
wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed (Proverbs 13:20;
No less important is a hatred of evil of all
forms. Wickedness is anathema to the wisdom of the Lord. Solomon said that
you will find nothing proud, arrogant, rebellious, or perverse in truth.
We can learn a lesson from the body. As our body is attracted to the pleasing
odor of good food, so it is repelled by the stench of garbage. Wisdom says:
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 (Proverbs
8:7, 8; KJV).
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil:
pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate
(Proverbs 8:13; KJV).
Happily, once seen, truth becomes clear and
They are all plain to him that understandeth,
and right to them that find knowledge
(Proverbs 8:9; KJV).
A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and
the hardness of his countenance is changed (Ecclesiastes 8:9).
As we have seen, because of the problem of false
knowledge and erroneous understanding, it is vital that we acquire the
ability to discriminate the good from the bad; what is true from what is
false; the helpful from the harmful. Indeed, this skill is what Solomon
specifically requested from the Lord when he first spoke to him—the ability
to judge rightly. He prayed, saying,
Give thy servant therefore an understanding
mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil (1
Kings 3:9; RSV).
There is one other problem with human knowledge
that should be recognized. The world is dynamic and ever changing, and
our knowledge changes with it. Much (perhaps most) of human knowledge is
relevant only to a particular place and/or time. It could even be said
that like the things of nature, it lives for a time and then dies. Some
knowledge survives for but a moment (like much of the advice about the
stock market); other knowledge may remain true and relevant for years,
perhaps even for centuries. The Word of God is eternal.
the word of the Lord endureth for ever
(1 Peter 1:25; KJV).
In sum: Like our daily bread, God's wisdom
is essential both for our survival and our progress. Like our daily bread,
the Lord provides for its availability, but it too must be sought out and
acquired by the sweat of our brow.
Wisdom in God's Book
Solomon wrote much more than we have contained
in the Bible.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding
beyond measure, and largeness of mind like the sand on the seashore, so
that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all people of the east, and
all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than
Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and
his fame was in all the nations round about. He also uttered three thousand
proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five. He spoke of trees, from
the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall:
he spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And
men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the
kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom (I Kings 4:29-34; RSV).
Concerning Solomon's writings, the nineteenth-century
Bible scholar, Adam Clarke, said:
Of the three thousand proverbs which Solomon
spoke, we have only those contained in [The Proverbs] and in Ecclesiastes;
and of the one thousand and five songs which he made, only the Canticles
[Song of Solomon] have been preserved: or, in other words, of all his numerous
works in divinity, philosophy, morality, and natural history, only the
three above mentioned, bearing his name, have been admitted in to the sacred
canon. His natural history of trees and plants, of beasts, fowls, and fishes,
(for on all these he wrote). is totally lost. Curiosity, which never says,
It is enough, would give up the three we have for those on the animal and
vegetable kingdom, which are lost. What God judged of importance to the
eternal interests of mankind, is preserved
What the Lord chose to preserve from Solomon's
writing contains lasting truth; words to help every generation know how
to become wise.
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David,
king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of
understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment,
and equity; to give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge
and discretion (KJV). The wise
man also may hear and increase in learning, and the man of understanding
acquire skill to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise
and their riddles (RSV) (Proverbs 1:1-6).
Have not I written to thee excellent things
in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of
the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them
that send unto thee? (Proverbs 22:20, 21; KJV).
And moreover, because the preacher was
wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and
sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find
out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words
of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by
the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd (Ecclesiastes
The Bible, the Word of God, is unexcelled in
the quality of its wisdom. Throughout its pages we can find knowledge that
is always true and ever relevant. Its wisdom may be applied to every culture
in every age. Indeed, both Moses and Jesus said it must be applied.
man shall not live by bread alone, but
by every word that proceeds from the father (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew
Within the Bible we find the Lord's standards
for us to use in judging right and wrong. It also explains the meaning
and purpose of our existence. It contains both direct instructions on how
to live and many examples or illustrations of ways of living, both good
and evil, with their corresponding consequences. It is our great common
tutor from our great common Father. It alone contains the key to understand
how we should live to prepare for true life—eternal life. Paul wrote,
All scripture is inspired by God and
profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training
in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every
good work (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; RSV).
The author of the Hebrew letter said there is
no other source of knowledge about the human mind that penetrates deeper
than the Bible.
For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and
spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions
of the heart (Hebrews 4:12; RSV).
The world is constantly generating new ideas
and opinions. They come and they go, but the truths of the Bible are always
relevant. All lasting knowledge and sound wisdom ultimately originate with
the Lord, the one Shepherd. Knowledge of his Holy Word should be the foundation
rock upon which to build our minds. So use discretion, and seek for it.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield
unto them that put their trust in him (Proverbs 30:5; KJV).
The sayings of the wise are like goads,
and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings which are given by
one Shepherd, My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books
there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh (Ecclesiastes
12:11, 12; RSV).
In sum: The most durable and the most essential
wisdom is found in the Word of God, the Holy Bible.
The Fruits of Wisdom
As the knowledge of the world continues to
increase, adding to the collective wisdom of mankind, we are able to tap
deeper into the vast cosmic wisdom of the Lord and become increasingly
able to share in his infinite creative power. As our individual wisdom
grows, we will be able to live more successfully, achieve more, advance
higher, and make a greater contribution to the progress of the world.
The gifts of wisdom cannot be surpassed because
it is through wisdom that all good things are possible. By wisdom comes
life and health, happiness, grace and honor, material prosperity, power
and strength, confidence and security, and, best of all, the Lord's favor.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom,
and the man that getteth understanding (KJV). For the gain from
it is better than gain from silver, and its profit better than gold. She
is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and
honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every
one that retaineth her (KJV) (Proverbs 3:13-18).
Who is as the wise? and who knoweth the
interpretation of a thing? The wisdom of man causeth his face to shine,
and the hardness of his face is changed (Ecclesiastes 8:1; YLT).
Many times over Solomon listed her benefits;
for to love wisdom is to love oneself.
He that getteth wisdom loveth his own
soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good (Proverbs 19:8;
Wisdom brings life a long, healthy, happy one.
For length of days, and long life, and
peace, shall they add to thee (Proverbs 3:2; KJV).
it will be healing to your body and nourishment
to your bones (Proverbs 3:8; MLB).
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom (Proverbs
happy is every one that retaineth her
So shall they be life unto thy soul (Proverbs
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings;
and the years of thy life shall be many (Proverbs 4:10; KJV).
For they are life unto those that find
them, and health to all their flesh (Proverbs 4:22; KJV).
For whoso findeth me findeth life (Proverbs
For by me thy days shall be multiplied,
and the years of thy life shall be increased (Proverbs 9:11; KJV).
The law of the wise is a fountain of life,
to depart from the snares of death (Proverbs 13:14; KJV).
To the wise the way of life goeth upward,
that he may depart from Sheol beneath (Proverbs 15:24; ASV).
Understanding is a wellspring of life
unto him that hath it (Proverbs 16:22; KJV).
Wisdom, the Grand Lady, brings material prosperity.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
in the midst of the paths of justice; that I may cause those that love
me to inherit substance, and that I may fill their treasuries (Proverbs
8:20, 21; ASV).
The crown of the wise is their riches
A servant that dealeth wisely shall have
rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part in the inheritance
among the brethren (Proverbs 17:2; ASV).
There is precious treasure and oil in
the dwelling of the wise (Proverbs 21:20; ASV).
Indeed, wisdom is better than riches:
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 (Proverbs
8:10, 11; KJV).
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 (Proverbs 8:18, 19; KJV).
To get wisdom is better than gold; to
get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver (Proverbs 16:16;
There is gold, and a multitude of rubies:
but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel (Proverbs 20:15; KJV)
Wisdom gives strength and power:
By me kings reign, and princes decree
justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth
8:15, 16; KJV).
A wise man scales the city of the mighty
and brings down the stronghold in which they trust (Proverbs 21:22;
A wise man is mightier than a strong man,
and a man of knowledge than he who has strength; for by wise guidance you
can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory (Proverbs
24:5, 6; RSV).
Wisdom gives strength to the wise man
more than ten rulers that are in a city (Ecclesiastes 7:19; RSV).
Wisdom is better than weapons of war (Ecclesiastes
Wisdom also brings us favor and honor
for they are a fair garland for your
head, and pendants for your neck (Proverbs 1:9; RSV).
So shalt thou find favour and good understanding
in the sight of God and man (Proverbs 3:4; KJV).
in her left hand [are] riches and honour
(Proverbs 3:16; KJV).
The wise shall inherit glory (Proverbs
She shall give to thine head an ornament
of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee (Proverbs 4:9;
Riches and honour are with me (Proverbs
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and
shall obtain favour of the Lord (Proverbs 8:35; KJV).
A man shall be commended according to
his wisdom (Proverbs 12:8; KJV).
Good understanding giveth favour (Proverbs
The wise heart is called a man of discernment
The words of a wise man's mouth win him
favor (Ecclesiastes 10:12; RSV).
Wisdom not only brings good to those who possess
her, she also combats evil. Through her power comes safety.
Wisdom is as good as an inheritance;
yea, more excellent is it for them that see the sun. For wisdom is a defense,
even as money is a defense; but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom
preserveth the life of him that hath it (Ecclesiastes 7:11, 12; ASV).
Wisdom insures lasting security.
[you] will dwell secure, and be at ease,
without dread of evil (Proverbs 1:33; RSV).
So shall they be life unto thy soul, and
grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot
shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea,
thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden
fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the
Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken
(Proverbs 3:22-26; KJV).
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings;
and the years of thy life shall be many (KJV). On the way of wisdom
I direct you, I lead you on straightforward paths. When you walk your step
will not be impeded, and should you run, you will not stumble (NAB)
When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when
thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk
with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs
of instruction are the way of life: to keep thee from the evil woman, from
the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman (Proverbs 6:22-24; KJV).
When we face a crisis, Solomon said, the Grand
Lady comes to our rescue.
When wisdom entereth into thine heart,
and knowledge is a pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee,
understanding shall keep thee: to deliver thee from the way of the evil
man (Proverbs 2:10-12; KJV).
It will save you from the adulteress (Proverbs
he who walks in wisdom will be delivered
(Proverbs 28:26; RSV).
I sit in my home and at the flick of my fingers,
and the turn of my hand I summon forth the beautiful music of a great orchestra.
Indeed, I have my pick of many great orchestras. With other small movements,
I can talk with my relatives who live hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles
away, or perhaps even with my friends who live in Europe, or in Asia. I
can do all of this without leaving my seat. Years ago, in the comfort of
my living room, I watched as the first man set foot upon the moon. I heard
him speak his first words there. In my home I can experience the sights
and sounds of a mountain climbing expedition; I can watch what happens
inside a living body; I can look back in history and see the German army
conquer Europe, and then suffer defeat. I can travel in comfort for hours
at a time at twice the speed a horse can gallop; and I can go virtually
anywhere in the land. For a modest fee, I can travel in comfort and ease
to almost anywhere in the world in a day or so.
All these things are common everyday occurrences
in modern times. But what if I could somehow travel back in time to men
of long ago, and told them all that we could now do? The list of wonders
readily available to modern man is so great and so incredible that they
would certainly have declared me mad. Yet, only a lunatic would deny them
Why were men of former times unable to do
these things? The laws of nature have not changed. The raw-materials of
the earth were there. The potential for all these wonders has always existed.
They were laying latent in the earth beneath their feet. But they lacked
the key to unlock this latency. They lacked knowledge. Only after knowledge
was discovered could these things become reality. And who knows what other
wonders await us lying latent in the ground beneath our feet?
In sum: The Lord's wisdom (from which
all true knowledge comes) is the root source of every good thing in the
world. It is, therefore the most valuable treasure, the "principle thing.
" Solomon said:
nothing you desire can compare with
her (Proverbs 3:15; RSV).
the reward given by wisdom is success
(Ecclesiastes 10:10; JB).
Nevertheless, remember that Solomon said, in
spite of its great power, wisdom cannot give complete freedom from sorrow
and frustration because this is an imperfect world. Indeed, the wiser we
may become, the more we will learn of the evils and sorrows here.
For in much wisdom is much grief: and
he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow (Ecclesiastes 1:18;
And I saw that wisdom has the advantage
over folly as much as light has the advantage over darkness, The wise man
has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I knew that one
lot befalls both of them (Ecclesiastes 2:13, 14; NAB).
Moreover, unless it is used with love, wisdom
cannot benefit us. Paul said a man could have all wisdom, and still be
if I have prophetic powers, and understand
all mysteries and all knowledge but have not love, I am nothing (l
Corinthians 13:2; RSV).
Copyright 1997 by Walter
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