“Look inside yourself and you will find wisdom,” are words often repeated in movies and some well-intentioned people. But is there really wisdom inside of us? Or is the source of wisdom outside of us? And what is wisdom? This is a topic the Seventh-day Adventists were studying this first quarter of 2015. The Biblical meaning of the word wisdom is a spiritual experience with the true God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7). This spiritual experience cannot come from within us because God created man – not the other way around. Wisdom, in the Biblical sense, is more than just knowledge. Wisdom comes as we experience the true God in our lives. That happens as we trust Him by living obedient lives. Let’s paraphrase the verse quoted above. The fear of the Lord, or acceptance of the true God, is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise the spiritual experience (wisdom) gained by following His instruction.
God spoke to us through the prophet Isaiah saying, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” The wisdom so many of us long for is not deep inside of us. It comes from God who is a separate and divine Being. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God says,“Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.” Pride rejects this type of reasoning. Pride looks for self-sufficiency. It is self-flattering to believe there is some inner-wisdom inside of us that we simply need to access. However the Bible teaches we need a new birth – a spiritual birth. This new birth results in the “fear of the Lord” which is the beginning of knowledge.
It is interesting that Solomon personifies wisdom in Proverbs 8. Solomon lists six traits of wisdom that are also traits of Christ. In verse 35 he wrote that wisdom is the giver of life. Speaking of Christ, the Apostle John wrote, “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” In Proverbs 8:15 it says that wisdom grants kings their power. There are many places in the Bible where it is stated God sets up kings and brings them down. Jesus Himself said that to Pilate. In verse 17 Solomon says wisdom is sought after. Of course, God too is sought after so this is yet again another divine trait attributed to wisdom. In verse 18 wisdom is said to be the source of riches. In Deuteronomy 8:18 we are told that God is the source of riches. In verses 27 to 30 Solomon identifies wisdom as being present with God during creation. That sounds much like what the Apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then in verse 30 to 32 wisdom communicates with men. The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, wrote, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the member of the Trinity Who communicates directly with mankind. Just as the Apostle John wrote, “God is love” it seems Solomon, in chapter eight of Proverbs, is writing, “Jesus is wisdom” which would mean to reject Jesus is to reject wisdom.
Solomon presents two paths to the readers of Proverbs. The first is the path of wisdom. That is the spiritual experience one gains from submitting to and obeying the true God. The other path is the path of folly. Those choosing the path of wisdom are told to forsake folly in Proverbs 9:6. Folly seeks it own. Folly leans on its own understanding. Those following the path of folly are as the Apostle Peter stated “willfully ignorant.” They flatter themselves with their own knowledge. The Apostle Paul contrast these two groups in his first letter to the Corinthians. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”