The Words Of Solomon On Value Of Wisdom
Unlike other books of the Bible, Proverbs contains no direct information about the people to whom it was originally written. It doesn’t mention the Hebrew nation, its culture, customs, laws, or history. The Old Testament books of law and history require us to draw timeless principles from words written to people living far away and long ago; the book of Proverbs, however, is timeless and universal. The Wisdom of Solomon and the other sages require no translation; the truths apply to all people living everywhere at any time. Even so, we must consciously exchange our twenty-first-century Western filter for the worldview of the Hebrew God.
Western thinkers, for example, make a distinction between theoretical and practical wisdom; the Hebrew sages did not. In other words, Greek or Western philosophy teaches that a person can be filled with knowledge yet behave foolishly. Consequently, Western thinkers believe that our challenge is to live out what we say we believe to be true. Western philosophers call us to live up to our potential by putting into practice what we know to be true.
The Hebrew sages considered this nonsense. For a person to know truth and then behave contrary to that truth is the very definition of stupid! For example, if people accept the law of gravity as a fact and truly understand how it operates, we don’t dance on the ledge of a skyscraper. If we do, our theoretical knowledge of gravity only makes us greater fools. Wise people stand clear of dangerous places and usually live longer as a result. In the Hebrew mind, to “know wisdom and instruction” necessarily means to put it into practice. Wisdom occurs when knowledge produces obedience.
The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7 (AMP)
As we read the wisdom of these Hebrew sages, we are wise to challenge many of the notions we take for granted. Rather than subject Proverbs to our preexisting opinions of what is right or wrong, good or bad, we must give this book the benefit of divine authority. That is to say, if we read these words with an open heart, we find ourselves agreeing with what we read much of the time – and occasionally offended. When these words of divine wisdom cause inner turmoil, I urge you to pause. Don’t dismiss it too quickly. This is your opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to straighten out some faulty thinking and to set you on a corrected course. If you allow the Word of God and the Spirit of God complete access to your mind, then your life at home, work, with friends, and in the world at large will be transformed. After all, the core message of the book of Proverbs is this:
“Do things God’s way, and you’ll be more successful in every sphere of life. Ignore divine wisdom and you will fail.”
Our Western mind-set tends to equate knowledge with wisdom. According to the Bible, people can be called “wise” only when they behave wisely. Education and insight aside,
Does your behavior reflect wisdom?
Ask a trusted friend or mentor to answer that question for you.