|Photo courtesy of ddpavumba|
If you google wisdom, you can find some tiny drops of wisdom, but mostly it is just hot air. For instance, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” That saying rings all kinds of warning bells in my head. Of course, I get the implication. Forge your own way and forget about following where others have trod. God points out an instance where that advice is perfect wisdom.
In Deuteronomy 12:13 God warns not to follow behind those that have been destroyed before the Israelites. The wise person would recognize the consequences of following the path of those destroyed...you would think. The Israelites avoided that trap for as long as Joshua lived, but the children forgot the admonition soon after those died who had crossed the Jordan River, and had fought hard for their inheritance. God was adamant the people were to, “... follow My rules and keep My statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 18:4). He calls that wisdom in Deuteronomy 4:6.
Forging your own path takes huge amounts of energy and the sixth sense of good direction; otherwise you might find yourself on the edge of a cliff. God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, yet Solomon still married 300 women and had 700 concubines. Ask any man today about that many wives and he would probably say that certainly looks like a cliff of Grand Canyon magnitude.
Innovation thrives on the path that others have trod. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. We see the truth of this when we turn the pages of history to observe history repeated again and again. But, humans build upon each others’ genius and that is innovation. Humans learn from each other’s wisdom. As Tim Challies notes in his book, we are created in the Creator’s image He commanded mankind to develop the world’s assets with the capabilities given to humankind to bring Him glory. “In other words, obedience to God requires we create technology”.
God emphasized to the Israelites that in following Him, the surrounding nations would recognize Israel as a great nation, wise and understanding (Deut. 4:6). It is an astounding thing how people marvel at wisdom. The Queen of Sheba traveled more than a thousand miles to see the famed wisdom of Solomon who said in Proverbs 8:1 that wisdom cries out and is not silent. Matthew Henry notes that there are “clamours of conscience as well as whispers.” Everything will come into the light sooner or later, but wisdom is already in the light. In fact, it is an aspect of God.
Wisdom was with God when He hung the world in place, and with Him when He flung the stars to the far reaches of Heaven. Proverbs 3:19 Jehovah has founded the earth by wisdom; by understanding He has founded the heavens. Isaiah 11:2 And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah. Because it is an aspect of God, we the created have the ability for it. Solomon is eloquent in Proverbs discussing the differences between the wise man and the foolish. Wisdom should come with age, but it does not always.
David knew fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all practicing them have good understanding ( Psalm 111:10). As we walk through scripture to get a broad view of wisdom, we see that understanding is usually alongside it. They are like two legs that support righteousness, and they dwell in the heart as well as the head.
Wisdom comes with confession of sin, which David realized after he confessed his sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 51:6 Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart. One cannot have wisdom without being right with God. Solomon declared There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against Jehovah (Prov. 21:30). Therefore the best wisdom is that from God. James tells us it is unpolluted, and peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). This sounds very much like the Fruit of the Spirit, which it is. Remember Isaiah 11:2.
Of course we can get along without wisdom, but why do that? All we have to do is ask for it. Stephen illustrates why we need wisdom so desperately here in this world: And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. (Acts 6:10) It was by wisdom and understanding that God was glorified to the surrounding nations of Israel. Though eons have passed, our job as Christians who bear His name is to bring God glory.