Every Thursday evening we meet for bible study, prayer and fellowship at Stonehaven Baptist Church, our evening centring on a particular bible scripture. This week that scripture was Proverbs 8, a passage dealing specifically with the subject of wisdom.
What is wisdom? Well, it incorporates many facets but to name just a few: knowledge, integrity, insight, prudence and understanding. And how do we obtain it? Through a combination of actions, not least the discipline of study, education and the asking of questions. But there’s no use asking questions if we don’t pay close attention to the answers – right?! If we do though, our educational efforts give us ‘head knowledge’ and the coupling of this with the experiences life has taught us, enables us, to demonstrate discernment.
Discernment is something of a sixth sense within us, another vital aspect of wisdom, the ability for example to have a hunch, a notion that something isn’t quite right. It enables us to take a better view, preventing wrong decisions and encouraging right ones. The impact of wrong and right decisions can have deep and lasting consequences, so it’s sensible to seek discernment before we jump in.
The bible contains a story of a servant who was given a denarii (a modest amount of money) to invest. His master revisits sometime later to see if the servant has managed to multiply it, but instead finds him to have buried it for safe keeping, fearful of it losing rather than gaining value. Had the servant committed this money prudently and faithfully, seeking God’s guidance for its most advantageous use, he’d have been in possession of the necessary wisdom to make right decisions, but he felt he knew better. And this is the case in our own lives, we think we know best when we’d be better served instead by asking God for guidance, seeking his counsel over all things, not just money.
The bible is littered with stories of mistakes made by prideful people who thought they knew better than God. Equally it contains accounts of wise decisions made after individuals had the good sense to seek God’s guidance. For example, David’s handmaid (Abigail) had the courage to step forward and advise David against exacting hasty vengeance in a situation, and this saved his life. David was all het up and ready to take on an enemy thanks to wild-eyed rage but Abigail diligently explained, through God’s prompting, that he’d have unwarranted blood on his hands, so he desisted. In the event, his enemy died the very next day but not by David’s hand, an act which would have started a war.
Wisdom gives prudence to the simple and sense to the fool. Wisdom hates wickedness and perversion, respecting only what is right and just. We could all do with wisdom if we’re to encourage a better world, and the true source of it is God. The fruits of wisdom are direction, perseverance, strength, righteousness and justice, all worthwhile outcomes surely? If we can put aside arrogance and pride, take the time to invite God into our situations and act upon the wisdom he instils within us, a better world it might be.