Proverbs 1:1-7 (ESV)

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

[2] To know wisdom and instruction,

to understand words of insight,

[3] to receive instruction in wise dealing,

in righteousness, justice, and equity;

[4] to give prudence to the simple,

knowledge and discretion to the youth—

[5] Let the wise hear and increase in learning,

and the one who understands obtain guidance,

[6] to understand a proverb and a saying,

the words of the wise and their riddles.

[7] The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Solomon wrote the Proverbs so that those who read them would know wisdom and instruction and understand words of insight. It is therefore written for people who need to be wise and to be taught and to know insight. So we would say that the Proverbs are for those who are not yet wise and do not understand anything. And we would be wrong. Verse 5 says that these proverbs are for those who are wise and hear and increase in learning and the one who understands to obtain guidance … . In other words, the mark of wisdom is a desire to know more and understand better.

The person who says that he knows something well enough; the person who brags about being an expert in something; the person who is unteachable; the person who wants others to listen to him but who does not need to listen to others; the person who writes but does not read; the person who gives but will not receive; the person who talks but does not listen; the person who does not really listen but waits for you to finish so that he can speak; the person who helps others but never admits to need – they are all fools. The mark of wisdom is the desire to learn, the desire to grow, the desire to be better, the desire to do better.

Churches can, and often are, full of such unwise people. They are the preachers who think that they have much to teach and nothing to learn. They are the elders who think that their position proves that they are closer to God than the average saint. They are the congregants who know what they believe and listen to sermons to find out if the preacher is going to get it right. They are the fluffy headed who keep bouncing around from church to church because no church is up to snuff. They are those who attend services and do religious things but see no need to embrace Christ by faith.

Jesus encouraged people with ears to hear, to hear. That is real wisdom – listening to Him.

The Book of Proverbs was inspired by God to give us down to earth wisdom so that those who really want to learn and grow and be useful could benefit from it. We so often confuse wisdom with knowledge. The two things are related, to be sure, but wisdom is much more than the accumulation of a lot of facts. In fact, there are many who are wise who do not have such an accumulation and there are many with a lot of facts who are just so stupid.

One of the marks of wisdom is willingness, desire, to learn more and live it out properly. Wisdom is marked by behaviour that has grown out of knowledge. We can demonstrate real wisdom if we demonstrate a willingness to learn and improve, and change from what we have been taught. The place to start is the Word of God. The place to continue is obedience to that Word that is born out of having come to a real knowledge of the Saviour who is the theme of the Book and the One who is real wisdom.

Real wisdom is a matter of who we know more than what we know. It is more a matter of behaviour than knowledge. And it is more a matter of a willingness to learn than to show what we know. It is a rare gift and we need to pray that the God who is wisdom would lavish it out on all His children in greater measure.