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The Bible Personifies Wisdom

What the Bible Teaches About Wisdom May Shock Us

The book of Proverbs talks a lot about wisdom. The word pops up in fifty-five versus in this thirty-one-chapter book. That’s a lot of wisdom. This may be the reason why many think of Proverbs as a book of wisdom.

As Solomon and his co-writers compile the proverbs in this book, the reoccurring theme of wisdom takes an interesting turn in chapter 8. In this, we see Wisdom personified.

This means instead of being an abstract concept to pursue, Wisdom takes on the characteristics of a person, perhaps the expression of a spiritual entity.

To consider Wisdom as a feminine side of God fills me with a sense of wonder and awe. Click To Tweet

Wisdom Personified Is Female

First, we’re introduced to Wisdom as female. I like that. Wisdom stands at the fork in the road. She calls us to listen. She speaks truth. The discerning accepts her words as right. They possess knowledge.

Then we read what Wisdom has to say. We encounter the words of Wisdom as someone speaking to us and advising us. It’s an interesting read. Be sure not to miss it.

Wisdom Witnessed Creation

Even more amazing, however, is what Wisdom reveals about herself. Midway through her discourse, Wisdom shocks us by saying she was there when Father God created our reality.

This means that Wisdom existed before creation. She was there prior to the beginning of time. She witnessed creation, therefore she wasn’t created.

This causes me to ask, just who is Wisdom?

I wonder if Wisdom is a facet of God. If so, I find comfort that God has a feminine side. To talk about God as our heavenly father and his son as our Savior, while comforting to most, is decidedly masculine. To consider Wisdom as a feminine side of God fills me with a sense of awe.

Though the Bible teaches us much about God, there’s so much more that we still don’t know. One day we will understand it all. After our time here on earth is over and we join God in the spiritual realm, he will explain everything to us—or maybe she will.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Proverbs 8-11, and today’s post is on Proverbs 8:27.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Fear is the Beginning of Wisdom

In my last post I noted that the Bible says we are to fear God—and I confessed confusion over precisely what that means. The next step in my progression of thought is to recall that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and of understanding.

God is almighty and all-powerful. Click To Tweet

I think that means it’s okay I don’t fully know what it means to fear God, but as I contemplate it, I can begin to understand.

I realize that God is almighty and all-powerful, that he is our awesome creator, our loving savior, and our ever-present guide. For these things I can revere him, worship him, respect him, and perhaps have a bit of reverent fear.

But there’s more…so come back next week to find out.

Until then, what wisdom do you have as a result of fearing God?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 110-113, and today’s post is on Psalm 111:10.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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More Proverbs from King Solomon

We can learn from the many wise sayings in the Bible

We consider the book of Proverbs as being a collection of wise sayings from King Solomon. This is mostly correct. However, it also includes proverbs from other people. The book opens with Solomon giving instructions to his son.

Then the king adds some more wise sayings. After that we see proverbs from other people, either compiled by Solomon or added by someone else later.

More Proverbs

Beginning in chapter 25, we encounter a section where we read more proverbs from King Solomon. However, these additional proverbs were compiled and added to Solomon’s initial writings several centuries later.

This addendum occurs under the guidance of King Hezekiah, a direct descendent of Solomon. If I count correctly, King Hezekiah is the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson of King Solomon.

Not only does Hezekiah add Solomon’s wisdom to the book of Proverbs, he also honors his wise ancestor by doing so.

As I read through this additional compilation of Solomon’s sage advice, one passage jumps out as more familiar than the others. Solomon gives counterintuitive instructions about how to treat those who oppose us, our enemies.

He says if our enemy is hungry, feed them. If they’re thirsty, offer them water. This will benefit them, and we will receive rewards from God when we do so.

This thought-provoking instruction seems unwise. Yet at the same time it seems aligned with what Jesus might’ve said centuries later.

Paul’s Letter to the Church in Rome

If this concept seems a bit familiar, that’s because Paul quotes this proverb in his letter to the church in Rome. Paul cites this passage just after he tells the Romans to not take revenge but to turn the wrongs afflicted on them over to God.

Paul wraps up this teaching by saying that we should not be overcome by evil. Instead we should overcome evil by doing what is good (Romans 12:19-21).

Because Paul shares this verse in his letter, he elevates the importance of this proverb. This also serves as a reminder to not overlook the words of the Old Testament, including this section with more proverbs from Solomon.

The whole Bible—not just the New Testament—can help us in our walk with Jesus.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Proverbs 25-28, and today’s post is on Proverbs 25:21-22.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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If You Could Ask God for One Thing, What Would It Be?

Solomon Asks God for Wisdom to Lead Well and God Grants It

God appears to Solomon and offers to grant him a request. This isn’t a genie-in-a-bottle situation; it’s the all-powerful God showing his love and appreciation. Solomon makes a wise decision. He asks for wisdom and knowledge to lead the people well.

Not Money

Solomon doesn’t ask for wealth or possessions. He could have, but he doesn’t. In our materialistic society today, money is the goal for many. They don’t see it as a means to an end—such as to be a blessing to others—but as the end goal itself. But we can never have enough money or enough things. Pursuing money will leave us empty

Not Honor

Other people pursue prestige. They seek acclaim from others. Solomon doesn’t ask for honor either. Though receiving respect may be gratifying and ego stroking, it accomplishes little else.

Not Power

Along with money and honor, a third often-valued pursuit is power. An extreme display of power is overcoming our enemies by bringing about their death. Solomon doesn’t ask for this either.

Not a Long Life

Most people hope for a long life, one filled with worthwhile activities and pursuits. And the older we get, the more fragile life seems and the more important it becomes. Yet Solomon doesn’t ask to live long either.

If we lack wisdom all we need to do is ask God for it. Click To Tweet

But Wisdom

What Solomon does ask for is wisdom and knowledge. And this isn’t for a selfish, intellectual pursuit, but so that he can govern the people with excellence.

God grants Solomon’s request for wisdom. Because Solomon chooses wisely, God also gives him the things he didn’t ask for: wealth, honor, power, and a long life.

God gives wisdom to Solomon because he asks for it. And he will give it to us when we ask for it too (James 1:5).

Whether we lead a country, a group, our family, or ourselves, may we lead well with wisdom and knowledge. And if we lack wisdom all we need to do is ask God for it.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 1-3, and today’s post is on 2 Chronicles 1:10-12.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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The Book of Numbers Shows Us a Wise Step to Follow

Throughout the Bible We See Examples We Can Apply in Our World Today

As we move toward the end of the book of Numbers, we see God allocating Canaan—the Promised Land—to the twelve tribes of Israel. First, God gives Moses the western, northern, eastern, and southern borders of the nation.

Then he indicates which tribes will live east of the Jordan and which will reside to the west.

But he doesn’t give any details for tribal boundaries within this area. Instead, he says to divide the land by lots. That is, to conduct a random drawing. Though this seems akin to a game of chance, the people likely believe God will direct the results.

In the book of Acts, we see the same thing in choosing a disciple to replace Judas. In this case the disciples explicitly ask for God to direct the outcome (Acts 1:24–26).

In all we do, we must be wise. Click To Tweet

An Additional Wise Step to Take

However, instead of relying only on lots to make the selection, God designates one leader from each tribe to be involved in the process (Numbers 34:18).

This wise step provides the people with assurance that the drawing occurred properly, and nothing interfered with the selection of territory as God intended.

Though Moses could have simply drawn lots himself to assign territory to the twelve tribes, having representatives from each tribe present to witness the process, helps give the people confidence that everything happened as it should.

Though this seems like an unnecessary step, it’s also a wise step. Likewise, we are wise to follow this perspective in the proper management of our local church and the administration of our denomination or association.

At one level we can equate this additional level of oversight to poll watchers during an election. At another level this is like a check and balance in government. In an ideal world, neither one of these is necessary. However, in a fallen world this is a wise precaution to take. And in all we do, we must be wise.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 34-36, and today’s post is on Numbers 34:18.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Following the Good and Straight Path

If “wisdom” is the theme of Proverbs, then “path” may be the context. There are good paths and evil paths, straight paths and crooked paths. There are the paths of the righteous and paths of the wicked.

For those who are wise and make good decisions, there is the right path, the path of life, of peace, of justice, of the upright, and that leads to immortality.

Taking a journey—the journey of life—implies making decisions. Which paths do you take? This isn’t a one-time selection, but a series of choices, of continuing to choose the right path, repeatedly making the good and right decision.

And the best part is that we don’t need to travel alone. We have a “spiritual” GPS to guide us, God’s spirit. David acknowledged that God had supernaturally revealed the right path to him (Psalm 16:11) and Peter confirmed that many centuries later (Acts 2:28).

We also have the Bible to guide us in selecting the right paths, with over 100 mentions of the word. Proverbs is especially helpful (as are the books of Job and Psalms). Not only does Proverbs mention “path” 28 times, but its sub-contexts point to it as well.

Consider the words that we’ve highlighted in Proverbs. The sluggard and the simple choose the wrong paths. Folly takes one there, as does being quarrelsome or following the adulteress. However, the prudent, those with wisdom, know which paths to take.

Consider the mentions of “path” in the Bible and then choose the right ones.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Seeking Wisdom is Imperative—and Accessible

Among all the reoccurring words in Proverbs, it is “wisdom” that is the most prominent—mentioned 54 times. Wisdom, in fact, is the central theme of the book, effectively summarizing its focus and purpose.

The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight; common sense; good judgment.”

Given this definition, it would seem that wisdom is more of an innate characteristic than something that can be learned or acquired. Yet Proverbs continually advises readers to seek wisdom, to obtain wisdom, to get wisdom, to keep wisdom, and to gain wisdom.

Not only is wisdom imperative, it is apparently also accessible.

But, how? From God. He gives wisdom. James writes that “f any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

This is how we seek wisdom. Proverbs is the primer; God is the source.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is James 1-3, and today’s post is on James 1:5.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Recurring Words from Proverbs

There are several words that appear with disproportionate frequency in the book of Proverbs—and with minimal representation in the rest of the Bible. They are:

  • Sluggard occurs 14 times in Proverbs and nowhere else in the Bible.
  • Prudent occurs 10 times in Proverbs and only twice elsewhere.
  • Simple is found 14 times in Proverbs and only six other times in the entire Bible.
  • Folly occurs 23 times in Proverbs and 16 times in the rest of the Bible.
  • Quarrelsome occurs 6 times in Proverbs and only one other time in the rest of the Bible.
  • Adulteress is mentioned 7 times in Proverbs and only 5 times elsewhere in the Bible.

Plus, there are some additional words that appear with surprising regularity in Proverbs:

  • Wisdom occurs 54 times in proverbs.
  • Path and paths are mentioned 29 times in Proverbs.

In upcoming posts, we will look at each of these words.

[The 1984 NIV version of the Bible was used in determining the number of occurrences.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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A Biblical Screenplay

Song of Songs is commonly categorized as wisdom literature in the Bible. With the possible exception of Job, it is not like the other wisdom books, nor like any other book in the Bible.

It is easy to imagine Song of Songs as being the lines to a play that King Solomon wrote to both entertain and teach his people. As such, Song of Songs may be more akin to a modern-day screenplay than anything else.

There are three characters in this play, the beloved (the girl), the lover (the king), and the friends (think of them as the “chorus”). 

Headings, indicating the three parts, are inserted in some versions to reflect the pronouns used in the original Hebrew text, though some of the delineations between speakers are not absolute.

The book can be read straight through as a narrative or the various speakers (lover, beloved, and friends) can be pulled out read individually to gain a better understanding of each character. In doing so,

  • the lover mostly upholds and celebrates her beauty,
  • the beloved mostly talks about her deep yearning for him and desire to be with him, and
  • the words of the “friends” often provide a transition or information for the play.

In reading the words of the lover (the king), we can gain insight into God’s love for us and how he views us.

In focusing on the words of the beloved (the girl), we get a glimpse of what our response to God should rightly be.

Reading the Song of Songs with this perspective, gives me much to consider.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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A Wise Guy: The Wisdom of Solomon

God told King Solomon to ask for anything and it would be given to him. (I think this is the closest thing we see in the Bible to God granting wishes like a genie.) As a wise guy, he chose carefully.

Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge. And God gave it to him—along with wealth and power as a bonus. The Bible later says that Solomon was wiser than anyone else who ever lived.

It is from this man—the wisest one who ever lived—that we get the book of Ecclesiastes. Go figure. If Solomon’s writing in Ecclesiastes is a showcase of wisdom and the result of knowledge, then I’ll pass.

However, we also know that Solomon was distracted by the beliefs of his many wives. They turned his attention away from God and towards other things.

So, despite being wise, Solomon became unwise and strayed from God. I wonder if the book of Ecclesiastes is a reflection of that.

[2 Chronicles 1:7-12, 1 Kings 10:23, 2 Chronicles 9:22, 1 Kings 4:30-31, 1 Kings 11:1-13]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.