Friday, February 7, 2014

The Character of God: Wisdom

Wisdom.  It's a word that has funny and often inaccurate connotations. We might think of old people, owls, Solomon, teeth, and solemnity.  I've often considered wisdom to involve sage advice given from years of Christian living. However, God's desire for me is to reflect His character every day, not just when I have more years under my belt. There is no doubt that part of the character of God is vast wisdom, but perhaps we should look more closely at what that means.

Jeremiah and Job speak of God's wisdom in the same breath with his creative works. (Job 38:27-28; Jeremiah 10:12, 51:15).  In a beautiful poem magnifying the Lord for his works, David says this:

O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; The earth is full of Your possessions (Psalm 104:24). 

God's wisdom is active.  It isn't simply knowledge, but knowledge in action. I read one article that described it as "know how." In God's wisdom, he created the world and everything in it.   

On a much smaller scale, the children of God have had a "know how" kind of wisdom. It was true for Bezalel.  What, you don't remember Bezalel?  That may be because he was involved in the construction of the tabernacle.  I tend to skim that part of Exodus too, but the first few verses are important.

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship." (Exodus 31:1-5).

Suddenly our vision of wisdom changes.  Instead of an old man dispensing advice from his rocking chair, we see a crafstman building the Tent of Meeting. 

Skill in building is not the only kind of "know how" wisdom we find in the Bible. Solomon is the name that immediately comes to mind when we think of Biblical wisdom. When he asked God for discernment, it was from a deep desire to be a good king. 

Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? (1 Kings 3:7-9).  

Again, our vision of wisdom is challenged.  Here we have a young man who wants the wisdom to rule God's people even without the benefit of long years of experience. 

If wisdom involves knowing how to do my job, does that mean I can get wise by watching Rachael Ray and Nanny 911?  Of course not. Wisdom comes from God, and thus always has a component of morality.   Bezalel was making the tabernacle, the place where God would eventually dwell, and he made it according to God's specifications with the know-how God gave him. Solomon wanted to lead the people not in power but in righteousness. 

My desire for wisdom is not so that I can cook a beautiful four course meal or  have children whose behavior is always perfect.  My desire is to be a wife and mother who follows Biblical principles in working with my husband to have a home where Christ is glorified in all things.  

That's a tall order.  Thankfully, the God who gave wisdom to Solomon and Bezalel is the same God who gives wisdom to all who ask it of him today (James 1:5). However, it isn't a simple matter of saying a prayer in the morning and being as wise as Solomon by lunch time. 

My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  (Proverbs 2:1-6).

Only God can give us wisdom, but we have to really want it first.  We have to look for it, listen for it, cry for it, search for it with all our hearts. We have to really believe he will give it to us (James 1:6).  God promises that He will give us wisdom, not so that we can dispense advice from on high, but so that we know how to do the job he has given us in all righteousness.  

Next time you hear the word wisdom, you'll probably still think of the respected older woman at church, and that's great!  She may be very wise!  But keep thinking, and imagine what your life would look like if you had the "know-how" kind of wisdom to be the woman God has called you to be.  Desire it.  Ask for it. Seek it.


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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