Updated: May 9
The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Wisdom’ as: “The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise; the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period.” WOW! What a mouthful!
As we grow from birth and into our older years, we begin to gain wisdom, although we do not necessarily realize it. Every new thing we learn; every situation we find ourselves in; every lesson we study and so much more provides us with increasing knowledge. But knowledge does not equate to wisdom. From the above definition we can see it “refers to the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” Note the word good. That is because all the knowledge and experience we gather will not always result in good judgement. When we use our knowledge and experience to please the world we usually end up using poorpoor judgement. While that pertains to the secular world, it also is the same in our Spiritual world.
From my Logos library, Wisdom: Biblical wisdom refers to practical skills associated with understanding and living a successful life.
This definition leaves out a very important and highly necessary factor, Scripture. Additionally, the question remains, “what is a successful life?”
When we think about practical skills in a Biblical sense, we should think about the important lessons we have learned from our Sunday Preaching and the various Bible Studies we attend as well as our personal daily studies in the Bible. Notice the above definition of Biblical Wisdom says, “with understanding.” We need to prepare ourselves so that we can use our learned “practical skills” to provide that wisdom to anyone God puts in our path. We can see from the following Scripture: understanding is very important.
“So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” Acts 8:30–31 Emphasis added!
As Paul explains, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16
When we share our wisdom, we need to remember these two verses, especially for the new believer, or someone who does not believe. Okay, what about a seasoned believer who has studied the Bible for many years? They too may benefit by the wisdom we have acquired, particularly if they have an interpretation of Scripture that is not in line with what the Bible reveals to us: “Let Scripture interpret Scripture.” However, we must be open to learning wisdom from others, especially our Elders. Believe it or not, we can also learn from a young child.
Biblical WisdomBiblical from a Scriptural standpoint (which is always what we need to take) most of the Biblical Wisdom is found in the books of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Still do not think that wisdom is not found throughout the rest of the Sacred scriptures. When we study the Bible as it should be examined, exegetically, then we will find so much more wisdom; wisdom that could fill an encyclopedia. However, the above wisdom books reveal important aspects which differ from other Biblical material; their main focus is on the life affairs and anxieties of individuals.
While the above so-called Books of Wisdom give us invaluable information to share, they do not touch significantly on many other important issues found throughout the Scriptures. Rarely do they mention Israel’s most important institutions: the temple, the sacrificial system, and the codified law. These too when scrutinized provide us with a much deeper understanding of the Bible and therefore provide us with much added wisdom and instruction. The Biblical wisdom we gain provides much guidance for everyday choices in life “living a successful life.”
Is there wisdom to be found in the New Testament? You bet there is! At first, it appears that wisdom is far less conspicuous in the New Testament. Yet Jesus teaches us wisdom throughout His ministry, particularly in His parables. Wisdom is still found throughout the New Testament Gospels and the Epistles; we just need to search for it!
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:13–17
Do you want real Wisdom?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5–8)
Two of my favorite passages that speak of wisdom and instruction are:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10) “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
 Shields, M. A. (2016). Wisdom. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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