What does it mean to have wisdom? Some may say to be wise is to have enough knowledge and good judgment to make well thought out life decisions. Wisdom is a common term mentioned throughout out the New Testament Epistles and the entire Bible. The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom and knowledge. It talks about ways to be wise and ways to be foolish. Through out the Bible there seems to be different types of wisdom and it is described in different ways. Analyzing all types of wisdom and knowledge will help us decide what the Bible means to be wise.
First let us look at what the Old Testament has to say about wisdom. The book of Job says that wisdom can not be found on land or in the sea. It can not be bought with silver or gold and it’s value is worth more than any precious stone. Job says the fear of the Lord is the beginning wisdom and to depart and refrain from evil is to understand wisdom. He also mentions that great men are not always wise and neither are the old in age. Psalms tells kings to be wise by listening to instruction and fair with judgments. He tells us wise men will obey God’s commandments.
Proverbs also tells us very much about wisdom. It says that a wise man will hear and be educated. Fearing the Lord is knowledge and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. A man that has found wisdom and understanding is one that is happy. It tells us that the law of the wise is like a fountain of life. Meaning that wise lawmakers celebrate life and are merciful and fair. Lastly, the wise will delight in rejoicing in God and all his creation.
What does the Old Testament say about those who are not wise? One who is not wise is foolish. Both Job and Psalms says that a foolish man hates knowledge. A foolish man enjoys folly and being simple. He will not obey God’s commandments and loves trickery. The foolish do not disperse (or give) knowledge and instruction to others. They do not raise their children in Godly ways. In all understanding the Old Testament tells us that the basic foolish man does not want or give knowledge and delights in disobeying the teaching’s of God’s word.
So what does the New Testament have to say about wisdom? Jesus spoke about wisdom with some of his parables. The parable of the wise and foolish builders is interpreted to be about obeying the word of the Lord. The wise man who builds his house on the rock with a foundation is the one who listens and obeys God’s word. The foolish builder does not listen to God’s word and he builds his house on the sand with no foundation. The parable of the rich fool tells us to avoid greediness and be giving and store up heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones. Lastly there is the parable of the 10 virgins. Some of them were not wise enough to bring enough lamp oil for the night. So when the bridegroom came, the virgins were away to find more oil. Meaning that a wise man will be ready for Christ’s return.
The Epistles talk about wisdom in other ways too. In the letters to the Corinthians we lean much about wisdom and knowledge. They say the wisdom of God is a mystery. It being so great that man cannot understand the amount. It tells us to be wise in the knowledge of God’s word because Satan will take advantage of our ignorance of his ways. If a foolish man thinks he is wise in his world, let him be foolish, for his mistakes will teach him to be wise. Lastly, I Corinthians say that the Lord gives us knowledge so we may be able to obey his commandments.
Yet there other teaching about wisdom that come from the Epistles. There are a few general themes about wisdom that come from the Epistles. Many times they say that wisdom is given to us from God, the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of the Lord. They tell us to pray for wisdom and to seek knowledge and understanding. It is wise for us to praise the Lord, teach others the word of the Lord, and to pray continually. Lastly, meekness is a sign of wisdom.
The New Testament does not specifically talk very much about the foolish man but there are some general themes about the ways of the foolish. Foolish men continually try to gain earthly wealth. They delight in partying and drunkenness. Fools follow other fools. Some of the foolish are prostitutes, idol worshipers, hypocrites, the sexually immoral, and the merciless, and the greedy.
So what can we learn from all this? The best way to describe wisdom is not by a textbook definition, but by an explanation or example. No man can be a wise a God, but trying to be God-like should be our never-ending goal. In regular terms it is safe to say that to be wise is to always be seeking more knowledge. According to the Bible is means to be instructed, to fear the Lord, to obey God’s commandments, to increase learning, to know the law of the wise, and to be humble, amongst many other of God’s teachings.