On Wisdom | 8.25.2023
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion—
A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and an enigma,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Solomon begins the book of Proverbs giving wisdom about wisdom. Wisdom is for the young and simple, but not just for them. The wisdom of God is not like a puddle that you splash in once and move on, or even like a deep pool where you can swim down and touch the bottom. The young prince will learn how to rule by gaining knowledge and discretion, but the wise grey head still adds to what he knows—he hears, increases in wisdom, and understands.
Wisdom is very practical throughout the book of Proverbs. The word “proverb” is mashal and in its verbal form it means “to rule.” To understand wisdom is to know how to rule, how to make decisions, how to act and live in the situation you find yourself. Self-rule is the place everyone must start, to get dominion over yourself. Fools already know everything and so despise wisdom and instruction. They interrupt the one with wisdom, the one who would help them because they already know. But the fear of the Lord, Solomon says, is the beginning of knowledge. To know anything rightly requires us to acknowledge and fear God. Why? Because He made us and everything else.
The issue here is not intellect. The fool is not a dolt, and Solomon knows an unbeliever can understand that 2 + 2 = 4, though he would not be surprised at our time of spiritual decay there are people denying this. But to know why 2 + 2 = 4, to see the design in the universe and know there is a Designer, and then to honor and tremble before the one who spoke everything into existence, this is the beginning of knowledge. Knowledge here is personal and embodied. It’s given to those who fear and honor Christ in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.