Not many are wise, says Paul, the learned teacher of the first churches in Asia Minor and Europe (I Cor 1:26). If you lack wisdom, ask and God will give it, says James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem (James 1:5). Add goodness to knowledge and faith, says Peter, the rash one to whom wisdom and knowledge came late (2 Peter 1:5).
They come late for all of us, if at all.
We are born without them. Should we die without them?
Knowledge puffs us up, and wisdom humbles us—so goes the saying. In possession of knowledge we will lord it over those around us—this we are fond of saying, anyway.
Must we know anything at all?
Can we be wise while knowing little or nothing?
The answer is no. Small knowledge makes for pride. The biblical promise, which Charleston Southern endorses and lives by, is that knowledge is brother to humility, and that with humility comes wisdom; and, with both wisdom and knowledge will come joy and godliness. The wisdom that is from above is pure, peaceable, gentle and full of mercy (James 3:17). Such wisdom is compatible with knowing much. With wisdom, we hold this treasure of knowledge inconspicuously, humbly.
Listen to the voice of wisdom herself on this topic in Proverbs 8:
I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
I hate pride and arrogance…
Counsel and sound judgment are mine.
By me kings reign
And rulers make laws that are
I love those who love me,
And those who seek me find me.
With me are riches and honor,
Enduring wealth and prosperity
My fruit is better than fine gold;
What I yield surpasses choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
Along the paths of justice,
Bestowing wealth on those who love me.
The Lord brought me forth as the
First of His works,
Before His deeds of old;
I was appointed from eternity,
From the beginning, before the
When there were no oceans, I was
Before the mountains were settled
Before He made the earth or its
Or any of the dust of the world.
I was there when He set the heavens
When He marked out the
Horizon on the face of the
When He established the clouds
And fixed securely the fountains
Of the deep,
And when He marked out the
Foundations of the earth
Then I was the craftsman at His side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
Rejoicing always in His presence
Rejoicing in His whole world
And delighting in mankind.
Blessed is the man who listens to
For whoever finds Me finds life…
But whoever fails to find Me harms
All who hate me love death.
What is it that delights wisdom? Knowledge. Wisdom delights in knowledge—of the politics of kings and rulers; of morals and jurisprudence; of the uses of wealth and its place in the scale of value; of the forms of the heavens and earth.
The reach of its delight leads from the dust to the highest speculative knowledge. Might we say, from the chemical composition of dust to the composition of states and civil politics to the orbits of planets and the motions of stars in their constellations, there is nothing outside the scope of wisdom’s reach. This wisdom simply knows and delights in everything, in its created form and in its form as mere idea. “When He marked out the foundation of the earth / Then I was the craftsman at His side. I was filled with delight day after day, / Rejoicing always in His presence / Rejoicing in His whole world / And delighting in mankind.” As craftsman of all created things, wisdom saw to it that ideas became realities.
Earthly realities, the natural objects around us, delight wisdom, but so do the ideas of God, the perfect forms of things in God’s mind as ideas before He brought them into natural existence. This wisdom that speaks to us in Proverbs is a figure of speech, a personification of that attribute of God which is His wisdom that exists in eternity. Before the dust and the kings and the wealth and all of humanity existed as they do before us now, they existed in forms affirmed by God’s own wisdom and in His mind. He delighted in them as ideas, and He delighted in the making of them as natural physical realities. We know His love for them because He has sought and still seeks to redeem them from a terrifying fallenness and imperfection, which you sadly know firsthand. He would redeem all of this fallen world to His original delight.
Wisdom knows all earthly forms in their imperfection, and He knows all things in their heavenly perfection in the mind of the Creator, who has seen their fall from glory. Shouldn’t you and I try to grasp these things that are valuable to God in His wisdom? Shouldn’t we study to know earthly things in the full complexity of their fallenness as against the heavenly things in their full and perfect simplicity and goodness? How have we fallen? What do we stand to gain as the redeemed?
And shouldn’t we adopt God’s wise attitudes of love and delight toward all His works, perfect or imperfect?
For how can we wisely evaluate earthly politics without a perfect conception of politics?
And how can we delight in the stars or in man unless we know them in their fearful and wonderful perfection as also in their fearful and wonderful fallenness and in view of their redemption?
Whoever fails to find Me harms himself; All who hate me love death, wisdom says.
Might I add that without knowledge of Christ, there is no wisdom?
Ask, seek, knock, learn. Seek wisdom as if you were terrified of its absence; shun ignorance in the hatred of death. Do this in the name of the Author of Life.