“Before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth.” (Proverbs 8:25)
We often look up to people who we consider wise — people who know how to use the knowledge and experience they have acquired so that it achieves something good and valuable, or avoids something bad and destructive.
But what is valuable and what is destructive?
In 2017, the government of Ontario, Canada passed a law (Bill 89) that could allow the authorities to permanently take children away from their parents if they don’t support the child choosing to be “another gender,” as it is considered “abuse.”
One Canadian Christian leader said that the government can now use the police to “bust down your door, and seize your biological children if you are known to oppose LGBT ideology or the false theory of ‘gender identity.'”
Was the liberal Canadian government using wisdom acquired from men or from the Spirit of God? Does this new law lead to tyranny or freedom, life or death?
Only by truly understanding what God’s wisdom is can we begin to answer this question.
What Are the Qualities of Wisdom?
The Book of Proverbs is packed full of wise counsel that steers us away from making mistakes while guiding us toward decisions that are noble and righteous.
In Proverbs chapter 8, wisdom takes on a persona that helps us identify some of its qualities and how to use it. We need to start our pursuit of this wisdom even before the Book of Genesis.
Wisdom was a Master Craftsman at God’s side. (Proverbs 8:22–30)
If we want to get a glimpse of God’s Divine wisdom, we only need to look at the heavens, the sea, the mountains and hills, the earth itself.
Wisdom says that “from everlasting I was established. When there were no depths I was brought forth. … I was beside Him, as a master workman.”
Jewish sages have long believed that this wisdom is God’s Word, His Torah.
One Aramaic translation / paraphrase of Genesis 1:1 says:
“From the beginning, with Wisdom the Word of the LORD created and perfected the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, Targum Neofiti)
Because Torah and wisdom are the same in Jewish thought, someone who knows kodshim (holy practices, such as sacrificial duties) is considered to have a high level of wisdom, which in Hebrew is chochmah – חָכְמָה). (Shabbat 31a)
The Hebrew word for a wise person or a sage is chacham – חכם, which is also the root of chochmah, meaning to be wise.
By the 3rd century AD, a disciple of a Jewish sage, which in Hebrew is talmid chacham, was a title of honor given to one well versed in Jewish law, a Torah scholar.
So highly esteemed and valued is the teaching of God’s Word that in the Sephardic tradition today, a chacham is a rabbi (teacher of God’s word).
Wisdom only speaks noble, true and righteous words; it never utters wicked, crooked, perverse, prideful, or arrogant things. (Proverbs 8:6–8)
We can know what is true or wrong, noble or perverse by reading God’s Word, as Moses told the Israelites soon after receiving the Torah — God’s instructions:
“I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom [chacham] and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say,
‘Surely this great nation is a wise [chacham] and understanding people.’” (Deuteronomy 4:5–6)
Wisdom says in Proverbs 8: “Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts.” (verses 33–34)
By immersing ourselves in the Word of God, we are immersing ourselves in the ability to understand what is happening around us in a profoundly accurate way.
Wisdom is understanding and gives sound counsel. (Proverbs 8:14)
In Scripture, wisdom is often equal to or partnered with understanding, which means to intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually comprehend the true reality of a situation.
Before coming to conclusions in any given situation, we need to ask God, “What are You doing or saying here? What is really going on behind the scenes, Lord?”
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:1-6)
God says that having “wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, … who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil.” (Proverbs 2:12-15)
So, before embarking on a new business venture or long-term relationship with someone, we just need to ask Him for this wisdom.
More than saving us from wickedness, wisdom and understanding help us to not falsely accuse people of being wicked when they are not.
A Jewish story written 1,000 years ago gives us a sense of this kind of understanding.
When Moses was a shepherd, one of his young sheep ran away from the flock. He chased after it until she stopped at a stream to drink. Moses had a decision to make: punish the sheep for straying or understand the reason why it strayed.
As one Jewish sage writes: “Moses realized that the kid did not run away from the flock out of malice or wickedness — it was merely thirsty. … Only a shepherd who hastens not to judge the runaway kid, who is sensitive to the causes of its desertion, can mercifully lift it into his arms and bring it back home.” (Chabad)
So, too, wisdom calls us to not hastily judge and punish others without first understanding why they did what they did. Only then can we react in a way that is right, just, and merciful — which are more attributes of wisdom.
That helps us identify a great ruler.
Those who rule rightly and justly have Divine wisdom. (Proverbs 8:15–16, 20)
The greatest rulers in the Bible are those who were known for having supernatural wisdom that could only come from God.
Even the pagan Pharaoh recognized the superior level of wisdom in Joseph.
When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream after the wisest men in Egypt could not, Pharaoh told his servants, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38)
Not everyone wants to be near people who have God’s Divine wisdom, since God’s holiness also dwells in this wisdom.
They might be jealous of it or despise it, especially if they hate God Himself.
But to Pharaoh’s great credit, he recognized how useful God’s wisdom could be to himself and his kingdom. So he promoted Joseph to second in command of all Egypt.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:39–40)
In that trusted position of leadership, with God’s wisdom, Joseph not only saved Egypt from a severe famine but also saved his father Jacob and brothers from starvation in the land of Canaan.
Through God’s dreams and wisdom, Joseph saved the Jewish People who would one day be set apart for service to God.
No matter the worldly outcome, God’s Wisdom always points back to Him, giving Him the glory.
Wisdom is ours if we truly seek it. (Proverbs 8:17, 35)
For us to discern what is noble, true, and righteous, we need to ask God for His wisdom.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you,” wrote James, Yeshua’s half—brother. (James 1:5)
If you are going through a difficult time in your life and don’t what to do, just cry out to God, “I need your wisdom, Lord. Give me Your wisdom.”
Wisdom can be given as a special gift. (1 Corinthians 12:8)
While God’s wisdom is open to everyone who seek it, some are endowed with wisdom as a special gift.
They are able to consider a matter and know exactly what God is saying in the situation and what needs to be done, often in a sphere of influence that God has placed them in.
For instance, the Apostle Peter said that Paul wrote his letters to the churches according to the wisdom given to him. (1 Peter 3:15)
Paul had more than a gift of knowledge (knowing a fact about someone’s life or a situation); he had an extraordinary level of wisdom — God’s Spirit communicating with Paul’s born-again spirit to further establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
“To one there is given through the Spirit a word of wisdom, to another a word of knowledge by means of the same Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:8)
Only through the Holy Spirit can we receive this gift.
As Paul wrote, “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10–11)
Yeshua (Jesus) is the power and wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)
God grants His wisdom to rulers and kings who seek it, as he did with King Solomon, and many of Israel’s judges.
But Yeshua is our King of Kings; He transcends the wisdom of all other kings the world has ever known.
He is the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)
He is the Word of God who was with God from the beginning, creating all things in heaven and earth. Without Him nothing could have been made that was made. (John 1:3)
As Proverbs says, “By wisdom the Lord (YHVH) laid the earth’s foundations.” (Proverbs 3:19)
Because Yeshua is wisdom itself, when we make Him ruler over our lives, we have access to and can receive His wisdom. we can then make good decisions based on what is holy and not destructive, blessing ourselves and those around us with life and God’s favor.
“For those who find Me [Wisdom] find life and receive favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8:35)