Wisdom is “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.” www.dictionary.com. Wisdom goes beyond knowing all the options available; it provides the ability to differentiate between the options and pick the best solution. In the Bible there are many things written about wisdom. In my personal study I have been looking at the books of Daniel and Proverbs which actually have a bit to say about wisdom.
Daniel and Wisdom
God gave Daniel wisdom.
“As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:17–20.
Again, when Daniel was older, we read how the people in the kingdom of Babylon remembered his wisdom. “The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, ‘O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.’ ” Daniel 5:10–12.
Did Daniel’s wisdom and intelligence come by chance? Daniel was not only wise in the things of God, he was wiser than all the wise men in Babylon. At this time Babylon was a world empire with the best and smartest people from all over the world. It is quite something that Daniel was wiser in all aspects of life than the wisest people on earth in the biggest empire at that time. This was because of God’s blessing.
“The case of Daniel was presented before me. Although he was a man of like passions with ourselves, the pen of inspiration presents him as a faultless character. His life is given us as a bright example of what man may become, even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities and privileges within his reach. Daniel was an intellectual giant; yet he was continually seeking for greater knowledge, for higher attainments. Other young men had the same advantages; but they did not, like him, bend all their energies to seek wisdom—the knowledge of God as revealed in His word and in His works.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 569.
God wants people in the world today like Daniel who are wise and intelligent. “Many of our young men might today be intellectual giants, had they not been content to reach a low level. Those who do not love to study, are ever in great danger of becoming dwarfs in spiritual and mental growth. They consider that they have a moderate understanding of Scripture subjects, and they cease to investigate, cease to plow deep that they may obtain all the treasures of knowledge possible. Instead of cultivating studious habits, they yield to inclination, and are content to skim the surface, without going with energy to the bottom of the question under consideration. Those who have this superficial manner of study would not be prepared to meet an opponent in discussion should one oppose them. They penetrate only deep enough into a subject to meet the present emergency, and to conceal the real ignorance of their lazy minds. Gradually this course causes hesitancy, dwarfs the comprehension, and bars the way to successful effort.” The Review and Herald, April 6, 1886.
“But few reach what they might in excellence of character, because they do not make their aim high. Prosperity and happiness will never grow of their own accord. They are the acquisition of labor, the fruit of long cultivation.” This Day With God, 190.
“The Bible is the best book in the world for intellectual culture.” Reflecting Christ, 163.
“It is a law of the mind, that it will narrow or expand to the dimensions of the things with which it becomes familiar. The mental powers will surely become contracted, and will lose their ability to grasp the deep meanings of the word of God, unless they are put vigorously and persistently to the task of searching for truth. The mind will enlarge, if it is employed in tracing out the relation of the subjects of the Bible, comparing scripture with scripture, and spiritual things with spiritual. Go below the surface; the richest treasures of thought are waiting for the skillful and diligent student.” The Review and Herald, July 17, 1888.
So many times when we look at the life of Daniel we focus on the fact that he ate good food. That is part of it and that is good. As you read the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy you realize that it was more than just eating right; it was God’s blessing and a balance of physical and mental work that enabled Daniel to have the wisdom that he did. There has to be balance in the physical, mental and spiritual in our lives. Daniel had this balance in his life which put him in a place where God could use him.
“Daniel and his companions had been faithfully instructed in the principles of the word of God. They had learned to sacrifice the earthly to the spiritual, to seek the highest good. And they reaped the reward. Their habits of temperance and their sense of responsibility as representatives of God called to noblest development the powers of body, mind, and soul. At the end of their training, in their examination with other candidates for the honors of the kingdom, there was ‘found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.’ Daniel 1:19.” Education, 55. [Emphasis supplied.]
If you want to be balanced mentally, you need to be balanced spiritually and physically. One cannot just work the mind. The body also needs exercise and communion with our Father in Heaven.
“We are to learn how to equalize the labor done by brain, bone, and muscle. If you put to task the faculties of the mind, loading them with heavy burdens, while you leave the muscles unexercised, this course will tell its story just as surely as the wise course of the Hebrew youth told its story. Parents should follow a consistent course in the education of their children. Our youth should be taught from their very childhood how to exercise the body and the mind proportionately. It is not wise to send the children to schools where they are subject to long hours of confinement and where they will gain no knowledge of what healthful living means. Place them under the tuition of those who respect the body and treat it with consideration.” The Review and Herald, February 10, 1910. [Emphasis supplied.]
“Right physical habits promote mental superiority. Intellectual power, physical strength, and longevity, depend upon immutable laws.” Our High Calling, 269.
God gave Daniel wisdom, but Daniel put effort into gaining wisdom. Daniel had a balance in his life between the mental and physical.
The Book of Proverbs and Wisdom
Proverbs tells us where wisdom comes from. It says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. See Proverbs 1:7; 2:6; 9:10, 11.
Solomon tells us that wisdom is a valuable thing to have. “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. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her.” Proverbs 3:13–18.
The book of Proverbs gives us lots of characteristics of wise people. Here are a few:
- Wise people receive instruction and reproof—Proverbs 9:8, 9; 10:8; 15:31–33.
- Wise people listen to counsel—Proverbs 12:15; 13:10.
- Wise people are humble—Proverbs 11:2.
- Winning a soul is wise—Proverbs 11:30.
- Wise people study how to speak to others wisely—Proverbs 12:18; 14:3; 16:23; Ecclesiastes 10:12.
- Wise people speak of knowledge—Proverbs 10:31; 15:2, 7.
- If you associate with the wise you will be wise—Proverbs 13:20.
- Wise people seek knowledge and understanding—Proverbs 14:33; 18:15; 22:17.
- Reproof gives wisdom to a child—Proverbs 29:15–17.
Worldly Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom
Paul talks about wisdom of this world versus God’s wisdom. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” I Corinthians 1:20–30.
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” I Corinthians 3:18, 19. To the world, Christianity is not wise but foolishness. The things that God tells us to do in the Bible sound crazy from a worldly point of view. I mean, give up everything to gain everything sounds pretty strange by worldly standards. As humans we have a tendency to think that we are wise. The wise, men in Daniel’s day claimed to be wise but when it came down to it, the God in Heaven had all the wisdom and the wise men didn’t have answers.
Human wisdom and engineering is not always wisdom. Sometimes the greatest achievements that man in his wisdom thinks are wise, turn out to be disastrous. I took a class when I was going to the University about engineering ethics. In this class we had many examples of engineering mistakes that had cost the lives of a lot of people. We think that we are so smart with all of our technology but, in fact, we make many mistakes in judgment before we get things engineered right. We need to realize that the only true wisdom comes from the Source of wisdom, and that is God. The wisdom of this world has many times turned out to be false.
When I was in college a teacher asked the question, “How do you know what is right or wrong? Who defines what is right or wrong?” He had a point that if you don’t believe in a God of all wisdom who has defined right and wrong, how do you know what is right? In the Bible there is wisdom that tells us what is right and what is wrong. Today, society really doesn’t know the difference. The other day I heard someone who was a polygamist saying that if a homosexual person can be married, why is it illegal for a polygamist to be married to more than one person? If you don’t have a Bible that tells you what is right and wrong in regard to marriage, that man would have a point. Worldly wisdom does not have the answers for hard moral questions, but the Bible does.
“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” I Corinthians 2:6–8. The Christian religion is the wisest religion to be a part of because we serve the God of all wisdom.
Wisdom is something that we all need to know to deal with people, problems, situations, and to know what is the right moral thing to do in a situation. Wisdom will keep us from evil. The Bible is full of wisdom. The book with special tips on wisdom is Proverbs. God’s wisdom sounds like foolishness to the world, just like it did in Noah’s day. God needs wise people who are willing to expand their intellect as Daniel did. Wisdom can also help to exert a powerful influence in the world as Daniel and his friends were able to in the kingdom of Babylon.
A network engineer, Jana Grosboll lives in Derby, Kansas. She may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.