When you think of the book of Proverbs, what word comes to mind? WISDOM is the first word many (if not most) people will say. Proverbs teaches us, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Prov. 4:7). The questions often arise: What is wisdom? Why is it the principal or first thing? How can I get God’s wisdom? Let’s take a look.
WHAT IS WISDOM?
While knowledge is about facts, wisdom is about the APPLICATION of knowledge. Wisdom teaches you how to use and apply information to deal with various situations. It often answers questions like,
- How do I do this? When or where should I do it?
- What is the best way to do this?
- How should I handle this situation?
Wisdom instructs us on how to do something. It shapes what we say (or don’t say), and often gives what, where, when, or how to do, act, or handle a specific circumstance. God’s wisdom is SO relevant in real life! Get wisdom!
WHY IS WISDOM THE PRINCIPAL THING?
Wisdom, according to Proverbs 4:7, is the principal thing — it should be first, a priority for believers, and valued more than silver or gold. In fact the Bible says, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her” (Prov. 3:13-15). But why?
Godly wisdom (along with His knowledge, understanding, and instruction) allows us to build on a strong foundation. Wisdom gives a solid basis for how we act and react, the way we walk and talk. Wisdom generally (and in Proverbs specifically) is amazing because when applied, it positively affects our decisions, jobs, relationships, ministries, and so much more on a spiritual and natural level. Get wisdom! If we walk in wisdom, every area of our lives will be better.
Ecclesiastes 9 is an excellent example of this. It tells a story of “a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it” (Ecc. 9:14). It would seem that in this circumstance (when a great king goes against a small city with just a few people), defeat would be certain BUT not if someone has wisdom and uses it! The Bible records in the next verse, “Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city” (Ecc. 9:15).
The city was saved because of this poor man’s wisdom! The Bible doesn’t give us the details of his actions in this passage, but we know wisdom must have given him instructions on HOW to handle the situation effectively, victoriously, wisely! The writer concluded, with three powerful statements:
- Wisdom is better than strength (Ecc. 9:16).
- The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools (Ecc. 9:17).
- Wisdom is better than weapons of war (Ecc. 9:18).
We can seek strength, volume, or war, but wisdom is better! In many cases, wisdom will get you further! Wisdom is the principal thing!
HOW CAN I GET GOD’S WISDOM?
God’s wisdom is readily available in God’s Word. As we study and commit to live by the Word, we learn that if we need wisdom for a specific situation, stage, or circumstance, we must ASK GOD! Go to the source of true wisdom, the only wise God (1 Tim. 1:17)! James 1:5 puts it simply: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Solomon, the author of much of Proverbs, is a superb example of this in 1 Kings 3:5-15 and 2 Chronicles 1:7-12. Solomon was wise enough to know he needed wisdom and to ask the God who could give it! He was humble enough to acknowledge that if he was going to be the king, he didn’t have what it took on his own! Some people miss out on God’s wisdom because they think they have it all together and don’t need help, but Solomon didn’t make that mistake. He said to God, “Thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (1 Kings 3:7-9). Unsurprisingly, Solomon’s speech pleased the Lord.
1 Kings records Solomon asked for an understanding heart and 2 Chronicles shows him requesting wisdom and knowledge. God responded by giving him “a wise and an understanding heart,” granting him the “wisdom and knowledge” needed to do his assignment (1 Kings 3:11-12; 2 Chron. 7:10, 12). When we line up with the Word, humble ourselves, acknowledge our need for help, and ask God for His wisdom for life and purpose, He is more than willing to give us the wisdom we need.