The When Solomon Speaks Series continues
When Solomon Speaks 2: Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge.
‘A proverb is much matter distilled into few words’ — R. Buckminster Fuller
As much as possible, Solomon compressed his rich experiences into proverbs. In all he knew, he laid greater emphasis on one thing which, I suppose, he found to be the most important thing in his life firstly, as a young man, secondly as king who had exposure to several issues of life and who presided over judgments, and thirdly, as a family man.
There are important things to lay emphasis on in life. They are the necessities. Others could be given less attention because when the necessities are in place, the other things will follow suit. The necessities are the principal things. Sagacious Solomon wrote about the principal thing which, in his understanding, makes a man lives the right way.
What is the principal thing?
Solomon emphasized Wisdom
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and in all thy getting get understanding. Prov 4:7
In Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, Solomon made mention of Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge (WUK) for over 170 times. It shows the emphasis he placed on them in his life. In fact, he used wisdom and knowledge interchangeably and where he talks of wisdom or knowledge, he often stressed understanding too.
Wisdom is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” It is “the quality of being wise.” Similarly, knowledge is the “awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation” while understanding is “having insight or good judgment.” Today, we draw lines between wisdom and knowledge but these two go together, at least, as far as Solomon was concerned.
WUK do not perch on people like a butterfly does on flowers; one searches for them. Solomon did not just emphasise the need for WUK in a man’s daily life, he clearly gave their source and the functions they perform. He spoke unequivocally about the source of WUK. He also advised that in all we get, we should endeavour to get understanding. What is the source of WUK? Why do we need WUK? Why did Solomon place so much emphasis on them?
The source of WUK
“The Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” Pro 2:6
I do not think the above verse is ambiguous in any manner about the source of WUK. Solomon identified God as their Giver. After being enthroned as king, God visited Solomon in Gibeon. He told God that he was a little child who couldn’t differentiate the right from the wrong. As a young king in Jerusalem, Solomon admitted his ignorance about governance. Finally, he asked God for discernment and a wise heart so that he could judge the people of Jerusalem wisely. He got all he asked and even more. This account is detailed in II Kings 2. So, when he later wrote in Proverbs that the Lord giveth wisdom, we cannot doubt this because he wrote from experience. Where will you turn to therefore when you need godly WUK? I believe you know better now.
The fear of God and WUK
Solomon linked the getting of godly WUK to the fear of God. He wrote that:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Prov 1:7
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Prov 9:10. The fear of God is also defined by Solomon in Prov 8: 13. He wrote that “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil”. To get godly WUK, one must “abstain from all appearance of evil” as Paul corroborated Solomon’s call for hatred of evil in II Thes 5:22. You cannot be wise without hating evil. Solomon further emphasised two types of deadly evil to include pride and arrogance which were the major causes of the undoing of even an angel. If Solomon hates a thing, it is wisdom to hate it too. Evil kills.
Why the emphasis, Solomon?
It is not inappropriate to ask Solomon why he placed so much emphasis on WUK. Why did Solomon say wisdom is the principal thing? Why did he have to write so much about them?
He said WUK make a man happy. They make one to walk uprightly. They make one to find goodness. They are instruments of defence, strength and deliverance. They bring favour. WUK make the face of a man to shine. They are profitable to direct one in the affairs of life. They preserve a man and they aid self-control. WUK gives life to a man’s soul. All of these are part of what Solomon listed as the benefits derivable from possessing wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Solomon also stressed that a man that departs from understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
Today too, we can get WUK through prayer (asking) and the fear of God. We can also read books such as the Bible and other good books, listen to counsels; learning from people’s experiences and other available means. The list is endless. The surest source however remains God.
How much better is it to get wisdom than gold and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver. – King Solomon.
Focus of WWS 2: Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and in all thy getting get understanding. Prov 4:7
We meet again at another time by God’s grace.
Vessel Anani Sunday K (VASK) is saved by grace