Bill Vaughan 5/1/04
We’ve just begun our men’s Bible study on the book of Proverbs and are
greatly looking forward to how God will change our lives with this book (our wives
are looking forward to that too! ☺ ). But the first item to note about this book is
that it is part of the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament (along with Job,
Ecclesiastes, and parts of Psalms). That begs the question, what is “wisdom?”
Because of how the world uses the word “wisdom” today, most Christians
don’t consider the fact that the Bible has a much richer and meaningful definition
for this word! Most people would equate wisdom with knowledge but that falls
far short. Biblical wisdom is a SKILL. It can be summarized as the skill of godly
living. A person of wisdom is a person who lives a godly life – they have the skill
of living wisely. Certainly, biblical wisdom has its foundation in knowledge and
understanding but it moves beyond that to decision and discernment, and the
It is fascinating to see what is called “wise” in the Bible! Did you know that
the leading artisan of the Temple was wise for the building of the Temple? This
is wisdom in technical work. Look at Exodus 35:30-35; 36:1 and see the skillful
(i.e. wise) craftsmen who built the Temple. Or, in Eze 27:8-9, the sailors
(“rowers” and “pilots”) were the “wise men” because they understood winds,
tides, etc. and could navigate through them and the ship builders were wise men
who could repair seams. Again, skilled craftsmen were the “wise men.” Today,
we see such technical wisdom in the work of skilled craftsmen, professionals,
academics, researchers, etc. It takes years of practice, knowledge and
experience to be considered “wise” in an area of skill.
The Bible also speaks of wisdom in the area of human relationships and
leadership. Today, we call these “interpersonal skills.” One who can get people
to work together or who can administrate or who can resolve personal
relationship issues between people would also be considered a person of
wisdom. For example, Joseph was called “wise” in Genesis 41:38-40 for his
personal and planning skills. In addition, Moses was commanded to choose
wise men to be leaders under him (Deut 1:13) and “So I took the heads of your
tribes, wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over you, leaders
of thousands and of hundreds, of fifties and of tens, and officers for your tribes.
In the Old Testament then, wisdom started with a basis of understanding
and knowledge that led to godly decisions and discernment resulting in godly
action. Biblical wisdom comes from God and is the basis for the righteous life. It
is His plan for life! What is the beginning of wisdom? Acquire Wisdom! (Prov.
4:7). Who is the ultimate wise person? Jesus Christ! 1 Cor. 1:24 teaches us
that Christ is the wisdom of God! When we read the gospels we hear Christ
speak wisdom to us! When Christ said, “Consider the lilies of the field,…” He
wasn’t speaking prophetically or imperatively, but was speaking wisdom! He is
the ultimate fulfillment of the wisdom literature! He is the wisdom of God!
A couple of final thoughts. There are three types of wisdom in the wisdom
literature. First, are the familiar proverbial statements. These are the short,
catchy, pithy, “one-liners” that we know well. Second, wisdom is found in moral
exhortations (much of Proverbs 1-9). Third, wisdom comes in the form of
extended wisdom discourses. You will find all of these in the book of Proverbs!
Most of us spend our time studying the New Testament as well we should,
but when you read Proverbs, you instantly see more than the difference in the
just the types of wisdom as differentiated above. The wisdom of Proverbs isn’t
in the form of commands like we see in the Epistles. Instead, the wisdom
literature shows us how the instructions and commands of the Bible work out in
the world! So, for example, we are commanded to not commit adultery. Why?
Because it is sin! However, when you read Proverbs, you will be told not to
commit adultery because it is stupid! Proverbs shows you the consequences of
that sin in your life. Proverbs assumes it is against God’s plan and goes on to
show how a life of that sin will “play out”.
If wisdom is something you desire to acquire more of in your life, come join us for
the men’s study! The great news is that wisdom is available to all who will hear!
(Prov. 1:20-21). Bill.