I’ve been doing some work recently on wisdom and find myself reflecting with gratitude on the many people who have shared their wisdom with me over the years. We often contrast wisdom with knowledge, and there is some truth that they are related, but different. One can have knowledge without wisdom, it is said, but never wisdom without knowledge. Wisdom is a higher form of knowledge that allows us to navigate life, make good decisions, and discern the truer nature of things.
We have in the Bible a whole genre of writings devoted to wisdom – Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, Song of Solomon and many of the Psalms. This material was produced by sages who, distinct from the prophets, believed God embedded in the very fabric of creation wisdom to be discovered and appreciated. If we observe carefully, and listen thoughtfully, it is amazing how much wisdom we can discern. And, of course, since wisdom is propositional in nature it is a thing which we can receive from others – if we are willing to entertain it.
Of all the wisdom writings, I think Proverbs has been the most impactful over the years. It’s a book divided into 31 chapters, so it makes for a great monthly devotional – one chapter for each day. Here’s a quick sample of what we find there:
- Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever follows perverse ways will be found out.
- A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
- When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but the prudent are restrained in speech.
- A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
- Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs than to confront a fool immersed in folly.
Reading Proverbs is like having a conversation with a wise sage who is inviting us to consider the truth of their observations and inviting the response of our perspective. I think it’s a conversation always worth having!
Grace and peace,