Society today has all different sorts of ideas about what wisdom is and where it comes from. Some believe that the ancient monks found wisdom by meditating all day. Others look to inspirational quotes for their daily dose of wisdom.
But what is the biblical definition of godly wisdom, and how may we attain it? True wisdom comes only from God, and God gives it to those who have a humble and contrite attitude. One man who understood where wisdom comes from was the young King Solomon. Solomon didn’t seek wisdom or education from scholars in the societies around him. Solomon went to God for true wisdom and understanding, and he ended up becoming the wisest king who ever lived.
If you would like to learn more about wisdom and how to acquire it to the amazing extent that Solomon did, grab your Bible, a notebook and a pen or pencil. Study the following scriptures carefully, and you will begin to grasp the concept that the world knows so little about today.
Examples of Wisdom
1. At the outset of Solomon’s rule, what did God ask the young king? 1 Kings 3:5. What was Solomon’s response? Verse 6.
Rather than immediately responding with a long list of material possessions he wanted God to give him, Solomon focused first on what God had done through his father, David. He had a tremendous amount of respect for his physical father. He honored his father, and he saw God’s hand involved in David’s life. Now, he wanted that same blessing to come upon his life and reign.
2. What was Solomon’s attitude toward his new office as king? Verses 7-8. Is this the attitude that God is looking for in His people? Isaiah 66:2.
Solomon admitted that he didn’t know what he was doing as the newly crowned king of Israel, and he wasn’t focused on himself at all. He wanted direction and instruction from God so that he could lead the people of Israel like his father did. That was exactly the attitude that God was looking for—a humble and contrite spirit.
3. What was Solomon’s official request? 1 Kings 3:9; 2 Chronicles 1:10. Did Solomon understand the truth about who gives wisdom and understanding? Proverbs 2:6; Job 32:8.
Solomon’s example shows us that wisdom comes from God, and he went after that wisdom first and foremost. This is exactly why so few people have wisdom today—they refuse to go to God for it. If they did go to God and ask Him for it, He would gladly give it to them. Instead, they are hostile toward God (Romans 8:7), and they run from Him. And as a result, they don’t have wisdom.
4. To get an important point about wisdom across to His disciples, what was the parable Jesus Christ spoke to them? Luke 16:1-8.
This wealthy man’s steward had wasted his master’s money. Since he hadn’t handled the money well, he was going to lose his job. He had to try to figure out what to do.
To solve the problem, the steward went out and found all the debtors that owed his master money and basically gave them all a discount. Instead of taking 100 from them, he took 50 or 80—which was both a great bargain for them and a quick way for him to gain back some of the money he had wasted.
As a result of the steward’s actions, his boss commended him for his work. This is what Christ explains to the disciples, and then He says this: “[F]or the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (verse 8).
Now, Christ isn’t contradicting what the Apostle Paul said about how the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. He is just pointing out that someone in this world can have worldly wisdom, and that oftentimes they can show more passion and more desire for human affairs, worldliness and planning for their future than even Christ’s own disciples show in planning for their eternal future.
5. Does Christ compare the Kingdom of God to treasure and true riches? Matthew 13:44. Is godly wisdom better than any physical riches you can find on the Earth? Proverbs 3:13-15.
There are a lot of examples in the world, as Jesus Christ brings out in the parable in Luke 16, of people really seeking after worldly wisdom—which, in God’s eyes, is still just foolishness. But the thing is, these people have a passion and a desire for seeking worldly wisdom that many of God’s people lack in the spiritual sense. So few people go after the true riches of God today, but those riches are better than anything this world could possibly offer. Really think about what God is offering His people: birth into the Family of God and a leadership role in the soon coming Kingdom of God. That future is why the Bible says that true wisdom is better than rubies and fine gold. These are the riches of God! And yet few people today consider godly wisdom to be valuable at all.
Definition of Wisdom
1. In the Apostle Paul’s day, were there many politicians, educators and philosophers who professed themselves to be wise? Romans 1:22. What did they become? Same verse. What is the wisdom of the world in God’s eyes? 1Corinthians 3:19.
The wisdom that Solomon asked God for was different from the streetwise, worldly wisdom of the steward in Luke 16. That steward ended up saving his job, but true wisdom is about more than physical wealth and riches. True, godly wisdom is the ability to apply God’s knowledge and truth to any question, problem or difficulty that comes up. It’s the ability to use the knowledge of God in order to come to a right decision for everyone involved.
In one of his radio programs, Herbert W. Armstrong said this: “Now how much is wisdom worth? There is knowledge—that’s a wonderful thing. But knowledge doesn’t necessarily give you wisdom. Wisdom comes from that right use of knowledge and the right reasoning process on knowledge.”
Wisdom is applying the knowledge that you receive—using it. Knowledge, as Mr. Armstrong pointed out, is a wonderful thing. But if it’s not applied, it’s of no value. Wisdom, on the other hand, is worth more than fine rubies and gold, as Proverbs 3:13-15 bring out. Thus, attaining wisdom takes God Himself giving us the power to do so—but it also requires our own diligent study and hard work. We need to apply ourselves to learning God’s way of life.
2. What is the beginning of wisdom? Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10.
Fearing God doesn’t mean that we are scared of Him. It means that we deeply respect Him. If we deeply respect Him, we will obey Him. If we obey God, He will give us understanding. And if we apply that understanding, we will grow in wisdom.
Wisdom and the Book of Proverbs
1. Can the book of Proverbs help us grow in wisdom? Proverbs 1:1-3.
The book of Proverbs is replete with the words of the wisest king who ever lived. God granted Solomon’s request for a wise and understanding heart, and we are still the beneficiaries of Solomon’s wisdom today. If you really want to gain wisdom, the Proverbs are a great place to get started. If you have the right attitude as you dive into this book—if you deeply respect God—God Himself will be talking to you, and you will receive His great wisdom.
2. Even if you don’t know much to begin with, will God’s Word give you wisdom and understanding if you have the right attitude? Verse 4.
The Holy Bible is the best tool you can use to build godly wisdom. God’s Word gives young men and women knowledge and discretion. Digging into the Word of God, and the book of Proverbs in particular, will set you far ahead of the rest of the world—especially if you start digging in at a young age. This book is full of godly wisdom!
3. What is the theme of the book of Proverbs? Verse 7.
Fearing God—deeply respecting and fervently obeying Him—is the beginning of your education. That is how you start to build godly wisdom.
4. If you feed on the precious words found in Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible, will it provide you with good doctrine and spiritual nourishment? Proverbs 4:1-2. Should wisdom be the one thing of primary importance in your life? Verses 5-7.
You should be putting your relationship with God—your prayer and Bible study—before anything else. That is how you will receive godly wisdom, and wisdom is the principal thing.
5. If you do put your relationship with God first, will you receive countless blessings for it? Verses 8-10. Will you have a successful, abundant life? Verse 13.
Promotions, honor, glory, length of days—these are the wonderful blessings that God promises to the wise. He doesn’t promise them to the wise of this world—like the steward from Luke 16—but to those who have the kind of wisdom that the young King Solomon had.
6. Does God want you to apply the principles that are set forth in the Scriptures because He wants to bless you for obedience? Proverbs 8:1-5. Just as wisdom cries out to you, does another voice also cry out to you—the voice of folly and shame? Proverbs 14:24; 18:13.
In Proverbs 8, wisdom is personified and cries out to you to receive it. God cares deeply about your obedience because He deeply wants to bless you with wisdom and an abundant life! But there is another voice that cries out to you: the pull of human nature, influenced by Satan the devil. Satan is always there promising a quick return—a get-rich-quick scheme. God promises to give you pleasures and riches as well, but you have to work hard for them first!
A recent example highlights the prevalence of this “get-rich-quick” mindset in today’s society. A highly successful real-estate mogul in Australia was interviewed on a news program, and they asked him how he accumulated his wealth. He made a simple comment about how he worked hard for it. Then he made the mistake of saying that young people just expect luxury today, and that they spend too much money on coffee, treats, restaurants and vacations. He said that when he was their age, he saved everything so that he could purchase his first piece of property and build his wealth from there.
As you can probably guess, there was quite a lot of backlash on Twitter and other social media platforms. News publications like the New York Times immediately rose to the defense of millennials, saying that buying coffee will never hinder your ability to successfully buy a house. The man was chastised, and the young people were exalted.
7. But are the principles of what this man said right in the book of Proverbs? Proverbs 22:7.
Borrowing is exactly what our society does today. Our nations are running up debt; young people use their credit cards without a second thought. That is not wise.
1. How did God respond to Solomon’s request for wisdom? 1 Kings 4:29-31, 34.
Solomon had a voracious appetite for learning, studying and true education. He really did want to learn about God’s way—and he asked God for the help to do so. God expanded his capacity for learning—He gave Solomon great aptitude and thinking capabilities. God helped him and inspired him, but Solomon still had to apply the knowledge he received. Solomon had to do his part, just as we have to do ours.
If you are serious about developing a mind like Solomon’s, God will help you! He will give you the kind of wisdom, discernment, insight and understanding that King Solomon had. You just have to do your part.
2. If you ever find yourself lacking wisdom, can you ask God for it? James 1:5; Matthew 7:7-8.
Just as you can find out about how to manage your finances within the book of Proverbs, you can find out about practically any subject. Use this tool in your search for wisdom. If you ask in faith for wisdom, God will give it to you. The story of Solomon proves it.
Solomon was the wisest king who ever lived, and that wisdom came from God. In Romans 11:33, Paul says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” There is a limitless supply of wisdom waiting for you to tap into—if only you’ll just go to God to receive it.