8 Nov 2022

“Blessed is he one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding” (Proverbs 3:13).

Ecclesiastes is one of the books in Wisdom literature of the Old Testament. In the previous sharing, we noted that king Solomon, probably the author of this book, was recognised as one of the wisest man in his known world; yet we also saw that king Solomon’s end was rather pathetic – he was led astray by his many wives and turned away from God even though he was endowed with much wisdom from God.

Proverbs also belong to the Wisdom literature. The emphasis in Proverbs is the need to attain wisdom and to reject folly. It is helpful to note that the contrast between wisdom and folly is also a contrast primarily between righteousness and wickedness.

In Proverbs 3:13, we see the relationship between wisdom and understanding. From one angle, wisdom is about understanding; understanding means knowing how to live in response to God’s revelation. Although wisdom includes understanding, wisdom is larger – it includes also the prudent doing of what we understand that we should do. Note that although Solomon was wise and had understanding, he was not prudent in doing what he knew he ought to do.

As we consider how to live wisely with understanding in response to God’s revelation, it is needful to realise that wisdom is gained through the hard work of learning to understand; understanding in turn is learned from the book of God, the BIble, and books about the book of God, as well as from live teachers who help us in this endeavour.

What this means is that there is no short-cut to gaining wisdom and understanding; it requires diligence, hard ‘labour’, and constant learning, discerning and growing in one’s understanding.

Also, it goes without saying that one ought to be willing to accept instruction and correction in the ‘school of wisdom and understanding’.

The Holy Spirit, who caused the Bible to be written, has been given to the church, to cause believers to recognise it as the divine Word that it is, and to enable them to interpret it rightly and understand its meaning. He who is the Author is also its Witness and Expositor. We therefore must seek to be helped and taught by the Spirit when we study Scripture, and must regard all our understanding of it as the gift of God. The Spirit must be acknowledged as the infallible Interpreter of God’s infallible Word.

Hence, the BIble does not need to be supplemented and interpreted by tradition, or revised and corrected by reason. In the review of the Reformation, we note how the ‘battle’ against human and institutional traditions and the correction of major doctrines was ‘fought’ intensely at a great cost with much sacrifice. We cannot afford to forget this aspect of church history and cause the sacrifices of those before us to come to nought.

Ultimately, godly wisdom is for living with understanding and prudence in response to God and His revelation and teaching. If what we learn is only ‘at the brain level’ and there is no renewal of the mind in God, then there can be no true godly wisdom and no practical godly living and application. Indeed, blessed is the one who finds wisdom and gets understanding from the Lord God!