Updated: Jun 15, 2022
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 NIV
This summer I was challenged, along with my Bible study group, to delve into Proverbs. I say challenged because time and time again, I feel very, very unwise. Proverbs is all about seeking wisdom, and at any cost (Proverbs 4). I would argue that mankind is not naturally wise. I am not sure how true is the phrase “with age comes wisdom”, but I doubt if that’s true in my case.
Throughout the study, I kept going back to the verse above, that wisdom is based on the “fear” or “reverence” of the Lord. God’s Lordship and submission to Him are foundational. In this posture, we seek wisdom. In a culture that celebrates one’s own agency, capacity, and individuality, people tend to balk at the idea of submission and reverence to God. I know I do. This train of thought leads me to the conclusion that Godly wisdom is as much a heart attitude as it is a logical, head thing.
It is no surprise that this call to begin with reverence is found in the first part of Proverbs, as it sets up the attitude to be able to discern and receive God’s wisdom in all of the proverbs and wherever His wisdom is found.
As mentioned over and over in the Bible, to fully submit to God requires humbly putting your “self” aside. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” The act of asking God turns us from ourselves and our own resources, to submit to His power and omniscience—trusting that He really does have unfathomable wisdom that He willingly shares with us when we seek Him with all our heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
One definition of wisdom says it is the application of God’s Word into our lives. That’s true, God’s word shapes us and produces wisdom in us. But, in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul alludes to wisdom doing something quite different – it draws us close to God. He writes, “I keep asking that the God of our LORD Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17 NIV) Paul here echoes Proverbs 8, describing the very personal way that God interacts with us: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” (Proverbs 8:17 NIV). So many verses regarding seeking God and knowing God are linked back to wisdom.
I am not sure how many times I may have trivially asked for wisdom or the right answer about something. Like many things God has meant for us and made available to us, seeking wisdom starts with the right heart attitude. In the end, it is another way for us to personally know our God.