Today, let’s look at what is written about wisdom in the Old Testament. In this, our latest installment on success, we’ll use this quote from Richard.Vincent.Rose.:
“It could be said, and sometimes it does appear so, that you can gain success without wisdom. That may be true. But, you sure can’t keep it without wisdom.”
So, I wanted to go to the Source. The Source of all Truth, Wisdom, and Understanding. God’s Word.
While, yes, books and books and books have been, and will continue to be written about wisdom, I wanted to just find out what God’s Word said about wisdom. In a word, lots. However, there was something new I learned about wisdom. How, so often, here in the Old Testament, wisdom is coupled with understanding.
I noticed something else which really amazed me: How often we see “wisdom and understanding” in the same sentence and thought, but the word “knowledge” is seldom there, in the context of wisdom and understanding.
Let’s face it, “the LORD is a God of knowledge,” (1 Samuel 2:3), but I was surprised at how rarely the word was used at the same time with wisdom and understanding. Often used with wisdom, yes, but still, I was surprised it wasn’t so often there with wisdom and understanding. Perhaps, here’s why:
“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psalm 139:6). Perhaps, so often, we see that pride comes with knowledge, but if we have true wisdom and understanding, we would “have knowledge enough” to not be prideful.
I can’t explain it, but rattling around in my head is the fact that the tree in the Garden was “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The word “knowledge” first appeared here, early in Genesis. Both the words “wisdom” and “understanding” didn’t appear until late in Exodus. We know pride comes before the fall, and, certainly the Fall of man came there in the Garden. Anyway, there is something there … perhaps for another time, or for you to think about.
To think back on the Richard.Vincent.Rose. quote, maybe there are a lot of people who have knowledge … but not wisdom and understanding. I know that, in my life, many times I had knowledge (sometimes called “a dangerous thing, right?), but I didn’t have the wisdom and understanding to go with it. Anyway, think about that for a moment, as we move on.
Let look at some Old Testament verses using the word “wisdom.” I was really just going to write about “wisdom,” but found the word “understanding” coupled with it so often, it changed my whole study. Again, you’ll notice how often wisdom is coupled with understanding.
The book of Job has 23 references to “wisdom.”
“But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?”
The answer comes only a few verses later:
“God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof … And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding …” (verses 23 and 28).
The book of Psalms backs this up:
“My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding … The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever” (Psalm 49:3,111:10).
I always thought it was no coincidence that Psalms follows Job.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7).
“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (3:13).
The instructions are clear:
“Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not … Wisdom is the principal thing … For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it … The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom … In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found … The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom … How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Proverbs 4:5, 7, 8:11, 9:10, 10:13, 15:33, 16:16).
Solomon would later write, “For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it” (Ecclesiastes 7:12).
It is amazing that all of this ties in together, when we read Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus: “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD …” (Isaiah 11:2).
Then, Isaiah, looking much later through time, in chapter 33: “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (verse 6).
Wisdom and understanding is tied together in the life of Daniel: King Nebuchadnezzar saw it: “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm” (Daniel 1:20), as did Belshazzar: ” I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee” (Daniel 5:14).
Man, how true is it that when the LORD is with someone, people around that person know it. Same with this wisdom and understanding. It seems that when someone has wisdom and understanding, people around them know it. And, it seems they know where this wisdom and understanding comes from. The Source. They may not have it … but they recognize it.
Next time, we look at the New Testament.