Biblical Wisdom

Updated: Dec 3, 2021


A brief definition for the biblical concept of wisdom is “the ability to make godly choices in life”[1]. The word “wisdom” is often used interchangeably with “understanding” and “insight”[2]. In the Bible, the books of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes are commonly classified under the category of “wisdom”, together with a number of psalms and portions of the Song of Songs[3].


Wisdom is at the centre of Israel's teaching. Psalms and Proverbs define “the fear of the Lord” as the “beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7), which is the overarching theme of Israel’s teaching based on a lifestyle drawn from God’s order that is “sewn into the fabric of His world”[4]. The “fear of the Lord” is to be understood as the knowledge of God and the reverent approach to God that is full of awe and wonder[5]. It is cognitive, affective, and volitional[6]. Firstly, it is cognitive because it requires knowing the Lord: So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:1. Secondly, it is affective, because knowing the Lord results in standing in awe of Him and trusting in Him: “Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses. Exodus 14:31. Finally, “the fear of the Lord” is volitional because it stimulates turning away from evil: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.Proverbs 3:7; “… that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.Job 1:1. Similar connections between “wisdom” and “the fear of the Lord” can also be found in Ecclesiastes 12:13, Job 28:28, and The Song of Solomon 2:7[7].

Ultimately, as we seek to grow spiritually in Christ, the Holy Spirit empowers us to grow in wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30), for Jesus Christ is the very incarnation of God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24; Colossians 2:2, 3). God gives wisdom generously and “without reproach” (James 1:5) to all who ask of Him. Therefore, we are to understand the wisdom writings as a “revelation of the grace of God in Christ and instruction in what our response should be to that grace”[8], rather than seeing them as a collection of legalistic principles.


Bibliography

[1] Fee, G. and Stuart, D., 2003. How to read the Bible for all its worth. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, p.233. [2] Sproul, R., 2016. The Reformation study Bible. Orlando: Reformation Trust Publishing, p.1047. [3] Fee, G. and Stuart, D., 2003. How to read the Bible for all its worth. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, p.233. [4] Sproul, R., 2016. The Reformation study Bible. Orlando: Reformation Trust Publishing, p.1047-1048. [5] Fee, G. and Stuart, D., 2003. How to read the Bible for all its worth. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, p.236. [6] Sproul, R., 2016. The Reformation study Bible. Orlando: Reformation Trust Publishing, p.1048. [7] Ibid. [8] Ibid., 1049

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