“Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures.
Wisdom acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom and understanding are the fitting application of knowledge.
Knowledge sees the light has turned red;
wisdom and understanding apply the brakes.
Knowledge sees the quicksand;
wisdom and understanding walk around it.
Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments;
wisdom and understanding obey them.
Knowledge learns of God; wisdom and understanding love Him.”
This weekend I attended a retreat that centered around the theme of “Joy”. As I was still pondering all the lessons from these past couple of days, I opened my bible to the book of James this morning in the Sunday life class I attend and help facilitate. Wow! I felt like Paul, interrupting myself with so many additional thoughts! 🙂 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable his ways!
I so love how the Word of God connects all.the.things. The best part is the way it always and ultimately gets us to Christ Himself.
As we talked specifically this morning about genuine wisdom, I realized how much wisdom and joy are interwoven throughout the scriptures. Since I have a deep desire to exhibit both in my life, I thought it was important enough to do a little digging. As much as I should have made the connection before now, the reality is that I just haven’t. It took a weekend of having these two themes bump into one another for me to grasp the significance. Connecting joy and wisdom has given me some insight into how I should think, pray and live.
We begin with Solomon, the wisest (but possibly most foolish) man to ever live…
“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, ‘Ask. What should I give you?’
And Solomon replied, ‘You have shown great and faithful love to Your servant, my father David, because he walked before You in faithfulness, righteousness, and integrity. You have continued this great and faithful love for him by giving him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today. Lord my God, you have now made your servant king in my father David’s place. Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership…So give Your servant a receptive heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of yours?’
Now it pleased the Lord that Solomon had requested this.”
God gave Solomon wisdom, very great insight, and understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone.
His reputation extended to all the surrounding nations.
Emissaries of all peoples, sent by every king on earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom.”
1 Kings 3-4
By God’s grace, Solomon saw the importance of asking God for wisdom instead of anything else. As a young leader, he acknowledged His need for divine intervention. And God granted his humble request. For years, Solomon guided the people using the gift of wisdom God had bestowed on him. Even now we benefit from his insight.
“Let a wise person listen and increase learning, and let a discerning person obtain guidance —
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1
“…listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:2-6
“A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings. A wise correction to a receptive ear is like a gold ring or an ornament of gold.” Proverbs 25:11-12
Though Solomon turned away from this godly wisdom, it doesn’t change what we learn about its importance in a Godward-driven life. In fact, much of what Solomon communicates in Ecclesiastes reveals that as his heart moved away from an appreciation for wisdom, it also moved away from joy. The melancholy tone of the book suggests that Solomon himself didn’t see the impact God’s wisdom had on his life until he carelessly abused it by confusing it with man’s wisdom.
As he zoomed out, the picture became more focused.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Solomon lost his joy for God and for God’s ways. Maybe he forgot that obedience was connected to wisdom. Maybe he forgot it was a heart issue. Somewhere along the way, there stopped being the desire to seek guidance from God. All the things that Solomon had acquired began to obstruct his vision. He was blinded by success and riches, and he forgot to acknowledge the Giver. When our joy begins to be found in the gifts and not the Giver, idolatry begins to take shape. An ungrateful heart eventually leads to a life of emptiness and despair.
In this age of instant access to information, it is especially important to recognize the danger of knowledge without Godly wisdom. Similar to Solomon’s conclusions but with a more God-focused perspective, TS Eliot prophetically stated in 1934:
The endless cycle of idea and action, endless invention, endless experiment,
brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
but nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.
Apart from God’s grace, we are doomed. Without His wisdom, we will walk in darkness and despair.
“… what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools …They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever.
As Solomon recognized the importance of keeping God’s commands, we recognize that the only way to live in right relationship with our Creator is dependence on Christ’s work. It is in Him that we seek wisdom and obtain lasting joy. He is the Source! Solomon knew that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In acknowledging our need for redemption and salvation, we access the wisdom of God, through the Son.
“It is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us — our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1
God is a Giver of good gifts. Just as He was with Solomon, God is pleased when we ask for wisdom. So pleased that He promises that He’ll give it generously and graciously if we sincerely request it in faith.
As we obtain wisdom from God, it inevitably leads to a peaceful, joyful life! One that brings glory to God forever.
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God — who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly — and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5
“Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.” James 3:13-18
The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad;
the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.