What is Wisdom?

What is Wisdom?

We often think of wisdom as intelligence, but we would be mistaken to bring that definition to this literature. When we look at the vast number of topics covered under the heading of “wisdom,” it is easy to despair of finding common ground, for the heading covers artisan skills, scientific knowledge, etiquette, philosophy, psychology, politics, sociology and jurisprudence, just to name a few. Furthermore, the text insists on more than one occasion that the “fear of the Lord” is the beginning or foundation of wisdom (Pr 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). Does this suggest that none of those disciplines could be successfully engaged without fear of the Lord?

As we consider the way that people thought in the ancient world, perhaps we can best capture the Biblical way of understanding all of this by thinking in terms of worldview integration. In the ancient world, including Israel, order was an important value. Creation brought order to the cosmos; law brought order to society; etiquette brought order to human relationships; politics brought order to governance and authority. Ancient wisdom can then be understood as the pursuit of understanding and preserving order in the world. Wisdom is present when order is perceived, pursued and preserved. The people of the day wanted their worldview to fit together like a puzzle — fully integrated, with each piece placed in proper relation to the others. They saw the fear of the Lord as the keystone to this integration process. To “fear the Lord” means to take his person and role seriously. Order in the cosmos could only be understood through acknowledgment of the One who brought order. Order could only be preserved in society and in life by understanding God’s requirements and expectations. In this way, wisdom can be seen to transcend the basic knowledge or skill related to particular disciplines.

A fool (or any of the other synonyms used to describe such a person) was one who brought disorder into any of the pertinent realms by their behavior or thinking. Furthermore, a fool would be one who did not fear the Lord and therefore tried to find coherence in something or someone else — usually themselves.

 

##########################

Content in this article taken from the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind even the most familiar stories of Scripture. That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page of this NIV Bible is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of biblical times.

Bible Study

More
  • Do 1 and 2 Chronicles go too easy on David and Solomon?

    The bulk of 1 and 2 Chronicles is devoted to the... Read more
  • What is Wisdom?

    What is Wisdom?

    We often think of wisdom as intelligence, but we would... Read more
  • One of the Top 100 Most-Asked Questions About the Bible

    Question Why does it sometimes feel like God is far... Read more

Comfort

More
  • Jesus: Prince of Peace

    Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is... Read more
  • man holding face in hands

    Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?

    No one knows the mind of God, except for God himself.... Read more
  • How Do We Keep the Peace of God in Our Lives?

    Paul tells us to “be anxious for nothing” (Phil.... Read more

Devotional Reading Plans

More
  • Guide to Family Worship: Help Your Child Learn How to Handle Fear

    Dear Parent, One of the most common issues of... Read more
  • Daniel: God Still Reigns

    If you re a Jew in Babylon, you’ve got reason to... Read more
  • Living a Balanced Life

    This 7-day devotional offers reminders of what is most... Read more

Prayer

More
  • Start the New Year Studying Proverbs as a Family

    Many people start the New Year making resolutions on... Read more
  • Does Anything Prevent God from Answering Our Prayers?

    ... Read more
  • 5 Easy Things You Can Do to Hear the Lord’s Voice More Clearly

    “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O... Read more

SpeakLight

More
  • Romans 8:28 SpeakLight Danny Gokey

    Romans 8:28 / #SpeakLight / Danny Gokey

    And we know that all things work together for good to... Read more
  • James 5:16 - Steven Malcolm

    James 5:16 / #SpeakLight / Steven Malcolm

    Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for... Read more
  • 2 corinthians 5:17 phil joel

    2 Corinthians 5:17 with Phil Joel

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new... Read more

Spiritual Growth

More
  • What Can I Do When My Feelings Go From Discouraged to Hopeless?

    Charles Stanley shows us life lessons from the book of... Read more
  • Guide to Family Worship: Help Your Child Learn How to Handle Fear

    Dear Parent, One of the most common issues of... Read more
  • How to Overcome Your Fears

    Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted... Read more