Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, begins Proverbs explaining the book’s purpose: “To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity” (Proverbs 1:2–3).
In the second chapter he beseeches us to seek wisdom—to really go after it! He writes: “My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:1–6). He emphasizes this point with an impassioned plea to get wisdom whatever the cost! “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). Solomon understood that its acquisition was of prime importance.
Next, this wise king explains why we should earnestly pursue this precious gift: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor” (Proverbs 3:13–16). Few people have ever had both wisdom and riches. Solomon did, and he knew that wisdom was his most valuable possession.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding,” he notes (Proverbs 9:10). The fear of God is the most basic component in wisdom. Knowledge is of little value without the proper fear and respect of God to put it all in perspective. Mankind, without God’s Spirit, lacks the spiritual understanding and wisdom to know how to solve the problems that now threaten to lead to his demise. Wisdom refers to a skill, or it can denote an applied skill. Wisdom incorporates every aspect of our lives and it involves a change of behavior and a commitment to living according to biblical values. Those who are wise have the solutions to even the greatest problems facing humanity! The answers to the obstacles of world peace and prosperity are found in the application of God’s word.
As a young king, Solomon lacked wisdom and experience. One night, while in Gibeon, the Eternal appeared to him in a dream by night and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”
With proper humility, Solomon replied: “Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:5–9).
God abundantly answered Solomon’s request, granting him not only an understanding heart, but wisdom for handling the challenging affairs of life in a skillful manner. “The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: ‘Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days” (1 Kings 3:10–13). The abilities that God gave Solomon were exceptional! This young king understood that wisdom was of more value than riches and honor. He knew that godly wisdom was needed if he was to lead and serve God’s people.
Have we asked God to endow us with wisdom? We ought to! The New Testament also talks about the value of wisdom. In the first chapter of James we read: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Often we do not have the things we desire, simply because we fail to ask. At other times God does not honor our requests; either because we ask for the wrong thing, or because we ask with ulterior motives in mind. James writes, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2–3). All of us should pray for wisdom so that we can more effectively serve others.
In addition, we must not neglect study and meditation on the word of God. It is one of the best investments we will ever make. The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to Timothy, stresses this point. He tells Christians to “continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14–15). Paul points out a direct link between a knowledge of Scripture and wisdom. The word of God shows us how God thinks. It gives us examples of how to apply the basic spiritual principles that govern mankind. That is why the Psalmist wrote: “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts” (Psalm 119:97–100).
So, be sure to study and meditate on God’s word, and earnestly pray for wisdom, “For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her” (Proverbs 8:11). Wisdom is needed in godly leaders both now and in the future!