“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
In the Bible the wisdom of God is distinguished from “the wisdom of the world”, “the wisdom of the wise”, “human wisdom”. We learn from the book of James that there is a wisdom that “comes from heaven”, as well as a wisdom that “does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” Human beings cannot create or conjure up the wisdom of God. It is something only God can give.
I define true wisdom as discernment, insight, and understanding in one’s approach to the world with its challenges and problems. True wisdom understands how the natural world works, how people think and feel, and how God relates to and interacts with the world he created, especially with his people. It is this latter part of my definition that is missing in the world’s understanding of wisdom. It is this part that can be possessed by any believer whether a rocket scientist or an uneducated farm laborer.
When God offered to Solomon whatever Solomon wanted, he responded, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” This pleased God who in turn responded “I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”
Israel would come to recognize that King Solomon “had wisdom from God to administer justice.” The Bible sums it up like this: “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else…”
His wisdom was so great that “[f]rom all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.” The Queen of Sheba was especially impressed saying, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true.” Her response was an appropriate response to the way God had blessed Solomon and Israel through Solomon, “Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”
Centuries later Matthew would write, “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.” That “something greater” of course is Jesus Christ.
(to be continued)