Some notes from a project.... Understanding the Bible as a text, applying it to our lives, reaching out to the needs of the world, and relying upon the Holy Spirit to guide, protect, and transform us: all these things require wisdom and are also ways by which we grow in wisdom. Here are a selection of Bible verses on this subject.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7).
[Y]es, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his saints (Prov. 2:3-8).
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her (Prov. 4:7-8).
Wisdom seems like a quality which, if you claim it for yourself, you don’t really have it! (I don’t claim it: so am I unwise, or truly wise?) There is a difference between being wise in your own estimation, and having a wisdom that functions alongside your qualities of kindness and humility. I love this next passage because, here at the very end of a book about right living and wisdom, we’ve an acknowledgement by someone (Agur son of Jakeh: Prov. 30:1) who doesn’t claim to have wisdom!
Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One (Prov. 30:2-3).
As a friend says, “ain’t it the truth?” Agur’s search leads him to a feeling of inadequacy and, in turn, a renewed search.
But an admission of failure in this regard is commensurate with another favorite passage:
And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory (1 Cor. 2:3-7).
The Holy Spirit provides and demonstrates wisdom, apart from our human talents of speech, persuasion, and popularity. This was important for the Corinthians to know, because in their prideful attitude they had forgotten how to love.
Spiritual power, insight and wisdom do come from the risen Lord, thus the importance of an active, loyal relationship with Christ, as in yet another favorite passage: Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
Again … we gain Christ’s wisdom when we understand who Christ is, what he taught, and what he has done for us. As we “live [our] lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith” (Col. 2:6-7), we gain insight into God’s grace, our own strengths and shortcomings, and the gifts of grace which God may use through us to provide blessings and help to others.
The Spirit also gives wisdom liberally:
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you (James 1:5).
So Agur son of Jakeh is admirable in his humility. But on the other hand, wisdom is a gift that God can’t wait to provide us. You may feel that you lack wisdom but perhaps God is providing it for you in special ways.