* We should ask God for wisdom
When given a chance to have anything in the world, Solomon asked for wisdom–“an understanding mind”–in order to lead well and to make right decisions. We can ask God for this same wisdom. Notice that Solomon asked for understanding to carry out his job; he did not ask God to do the job for him. We should not ask God to do for us what he wants to do through us. Instead, we should ask God to give us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to follow through on it. (NLT)
1 Kings 3:6-9 – Solomon replied, “You were wonderfully kind to my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued this great kindness to him today by giving him a son to succeed him. O Lord my God, now you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am among your own chosen people, a nation so great they are too numerous to count! Give me an understanding mind so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great nation of yours?”
* Having wisdom vs. acting upon it
Solomon received “a wise and understanding mind” from God, but it was up to Solomon to apply that wisdom to all areas of his life. Solomon was obviously wise in governing the nation, but he was foolish in running his household. Wisdom is both the ability to discern what is best and the strength of character to act upon that knowledge. While Solomon remained wise all his life, he did not always act upon his wisdom. (NLT)
1 Kings 3:12 – I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding mind such as no one else has ever had or ever will have!
* What true wisdom is
In this age of information, knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce. Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot. It is a basic attitude that affects every aspect of life. The foundation of knowledge is to fear the Lord–to honor and respect God, to live in awe of his power, and to obey his Word. Faith in God should be the controlling principle for your understanding of the world, your attitudes, and your actions. Trust in God–he will make you truly wise. (NLT)
Proverbs 1:7-9 – Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline. Listen, my child, to what your father teaches you. Don’t neglect your mother’s teaching. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and clothe you with honor.
* – Wisdom is the ability to see life from God’s perspective and then to know the best course of action to take. Most people would agree that wisdom is a valuable asset, but how can we acquire it? Proverbs 9:10 teaches that the fear of the Lord (respect and honor) is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom comes from knowing and trusting God; it is not merely the way to find God. Knowing God will lead to understanding and then to sharing this knowledge with others. (NLT)
Ecclesiastes 8:1 – How wonderful to be wise, to be able to analyze and interpret things. Wisdom lights up a person’s face, softening its hardness.
* Wisdom not limited by age
In Josiah’s day, boys were considered men at age 12. By 16, Josiah understood the responsibility of his office. Even at this young age, he showed greater wisdom than many of the older kings who came before him because he had decided to seek the Lord God and his wisdom. Don’t let your age hinder you from serving God. (NLT)
2 Chronicles 34:3 – He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn aside from doing what was right.
* Why wisdom is found only in God
Job stated that wisdom cannot be found among the living. It is natural for people who do not understand the importance of God’s Word to seek wisdom here on earth. They look to philosophers and other leaders to give them direction for living. Yet Job said that wisdom is not found there. No leader or group of leaders can produce enough knowledge or insight to explain the totality of human experience. The ultimate interpretation of life, of who we are and where we are going, must come from outside and above our mortal life. When looking for guidance, seek God’s wisdom as revealed in the Bible. To be lifted above and beyond the boundaries of life, we must know and trust the Lord of life. (NLT)
Job 28:13 – No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living.
* Wisdom comes from reading the Bible
God’s Word makes us wise–wiser than our enemies and wiser than any teachers who ignore it. True wisdom goes beyond amassing knowledge; it is applying knowledge in a life-changing way. Intelligent or experienced people are not necessarily wise. Wisdom comes from allowing God’s teachings to guide us. (NLT)
Psalm 119:97-104 – Oh, how I love your law! I think about it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for your commands are my constant guide. Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your decrees. I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments. I have refused to walk on any path of evil, that I may remain obedient to your word. I haven’t turned away from your laws, for you have taught me well. How sweet are your words to my taste; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.
* If wisdom is our goal; wisdom & foolishness contrasted
The wise and the foolish are often contrasted in Proverbs. The characteristics, reputation, and results of each are worth knowing if wisdom is our goal. (NLT)
** The wise give good advice; the foolish lack common sense.
Proverbs 10:21 – The godly give good advice, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.
** The wise enjoy wisdom; the foolish enjoy foolishness.
Proverbs 10:23 – Doing wrong is fun for a fool, while wise conduct is a pleasure to the wise.
** The wise consider their steps; the foolish are gullible.
Proverbs 14:15 – Only simpletons believe everything they are told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.
** The foolish avoid the wise.
Proverbs 15:12 – Mockers don’t love those who rebuke them, so they stay away from the wise.
** The wise are hungry for truth; the foolish feed on foolishness.
What we feed our mind is just as important as what we feed our body. The kinds of books we read, the people we talk with, the music we listen to, and the films we watch are all part of our mental diet. Be discerning because what you feed your mind influences your total health and well-being. Thus, a strong desire to discover knowledge is a mark of wisdom. (NLT)
Proverbs 15:14 – A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash.
** The wise value wisdom above riches.
Proverbs 16:16 – How much better to get wisdom than gold, and understanding than silver!
** The wise receive life; the foolish receive punishment.
For centuries people sought a fountain of youth, a spring that promised to give eternal life and vitality. It was never found. But God’s wisdom is a life-giving fountain that can make a person happy, healthy, and alive forever. How? When we live by God’s Word, he washes away the deadly effects of sin, and the hope of eternal life with him gives us a joyful perspective on our present life. The fountain of youth was only a dream, but the life-giving fountain is reality. The choice is yours. You can be enlightened by God’s wisdom, or you can be dragged down by the weight of your own foolishness. (NLT)
Proverbs 16:22 – Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools.
** The wise respond to correction; the foolish do not respond to punishment.
Proverbs 17:10 – A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool.
** The wise pursue wisdom; the foolish pursue illusive dreams.
While there is something to be said for having big dreams, this proverb points out the folly, foolishness, of chasing fantasies (having eyes that “wander to the ends of the earth,” Proverbs 12:11 – Hard work means prosperity; only fools idle away their time). How much better to align your goals with God’s, being the kind of person he wants you to be! Such goals (wisdom, honesty, patience, love) may not seem exciting, but they will determine your eternal future. Take time to think about your dreams and goals, and make sure they cover the really important areas of life. (NLT)
Proverbs 17:24 – Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
** The foolish blame failure on God.
Proverbs 19:3 – People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.
** The wise profit from correction; the foolish is an example to others.
There is a great difference between the person who learns from criticism and the person who refuses to accept correction. How we respond to criticism determines whether or not we grow in wisdom. The next time someone criticizes you, listen carefully to all that is said. You might learn something. (NLT)
Proverbs 19:25 – If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded will learn a lesson; if you reprove the wise, they will be all the wiser.
** The foolish are proud and arrogant.
Proverbs 21:24 – Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.
** The foolish despise wise advice.
Proverbs 23:9 – Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.
** The foolish make truth useless.
Some people are so blind that they won’t get much wisdom from reading these proverbs. Only those who want to be wise have the receptive attitude needed to make the most of them. If we want to learn from God, he will respond and pour out his heart to us. (NLT)
Proverbs 26:7 – In the mouth of a fool, a proverb becomes as limp as a paralyzed leg.
God is more than willing to pour out his heart and make known his thoughts to us. To receive his advice, we must be willing to listen, refusing to let pride stand in our way. Pride is thinking more highly of our own wisdom and desires than of God’s. If we think we know better than God or feel we have no need for God’s direction, we have fallen into foolish and disastrous pride. (NLT)
Proverbs 1:23-28 – “Come here and listen to me! I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise.
“I called you so often, but you didn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overcomes you like a storm, when you are engulfed by trouble, and when anguish and distress overwhelm you.
“I will not answer when they cry for help. Even though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.”
** The foolish repeat their folly (foolishness).
Proverbs 26:11 – As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
** The wise trust in wisdom; the foolish trust in themselves.
For many people, the rugged individualist is a hero. We admire the bold, self-directed men and women who know what they want and fight for it. They are self-reliant, neither giving nor asking advice. What a contrast to God’s way. A person can’t know the future or predict the consequences of his or her choices with certainty. And so the totally self-reliant person is doomed to failure. The wise person depends on God. (NLT)
Proverbs 28:26 – Trusting oneself is foolish, but those who walk in wisdom are safe.
** The wise control their anger; the foolish unleash their anger.
Proverbs 29:11 – A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.
** The wise are admired as counselors; the foolish are punished as servants.
Proverbs 10:13 – Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding, but fools will be punished with a rod.
** The wise are crowned with knowledge; the foolish inherit folly (foolishness).
Proverbs 14:18 – The simpleton is clothed with folly, but the wise person is crowned with knowledge.
** The foolish cause strife and quarrels.
Proverbs 22:10 – Throw out the mocker, and fighting, quarrels, and insults will disappear.
** The foolish receive no honor.
Proverbs 26:1 – Honor doesn’t go with fools any more than snow with summer or rain with harvest.
** The wise keep peace; the foolish stir up anger.
Proverbs 29:8 – Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but those who are wise will calm anger.
** The wise stay on straight paths; the foolish go the wrong way.
Proverbs 15:21 – Foolishness brings joy to those who have no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path.
** The foolish lash out when discovered in folly (foolishness).
Proverbs 17:12 – It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in folly.
** The foolish are endangered by their words.
Proverbs 18:6, 7 – Fools get into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating.
The mouths of fools are their ruin; their lips get them into trouble.
** The wisdom of the wise conquers others’ strength.
Proverbs 21:22 – The wise conquer the city of the strong and level the fortress in which they trust.
** The wise avoid wicked paths; the foolish walk a troublesome path.
Proverbs 22:5 – The deceitful walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will stay away.
** The wise have great advice.
The athlete who has wisdom—who assesses the situation and plans strategies—has an advantage over a physically stronger but unwise opponent. We exercise regularly and eat well to build our strength, but do we take equal pains to develop wisdom and knowledge? Because wisdom is a vital part of strength, it pays to attain it. (NLT)
Proverbs 24:5 – A wise man is mightier than a strong man, and a man of knowledge is more powerful than a strong man.
** The foolish will never be chosen as counselors.
Proverbs 24:7 – Wisdom is too much for a fool. When the leaders gather, the fool has nothing to say.
** The foolish must be guided by hardship.
Proverbs 26:3 – Guide a horse with a whip, a donkey with a bridle, and a fool with a rod to his back!
** The foolish persist in foolishness.
Proverbs 27:22 – You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.
* Wisdom comes from listening
God is more than willing to pour out his heart and make known his thoughts to us. To receive this advice, we must be willing to listen, refusing to let pride stand in our way. Pride is thinking more highly of our own wisdom and desires than of God’s. If we think we know better than God or feel we have no need of God’s direction, we have fallen into foolish and disastrous pride. (NLT)
Proverbs 1:23-28 – Come here and listen to me! I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise. “I called you so often, but you didn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you–when calamity overcomes you like a storm, when you are engulfed by trouble, and when anguish and distress overwhelm you.
“I will not answer when they cry for help. Even though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
* Takes effort to find and use wisdom
Wisdom comes in two ways. It is a God-given gift and also the result of an energetic search. Wisdom’s starting point is God and his revealed Word, the source of “knowledge and understanding”. In that sense, wisdom is his gift to us. But he gives it only to those who earnestly seek it. But because God’s wisdom is hidden from the rebellious and foolish, it takes effort to find it and use it. The pathway to wisdom is strenuous. When we are on the path, we discover that true wisdom is God’s and that he will guide us and reward our sincere and persistent search. (NLT)
Proverbs 2:3-6 – Cry out for insight and understanding. Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.
* Wisdom a constant process of growth
We gain wisdom through a constant process of growing. First, we must trust and honor God. Second, we must realize that the Bible reveals God’s wisdom to us. Third, we must make a life-long series of right choices and avoid moral pitfalls. Fourth, when we make sinful choices or mistakes, we must learn from our errors and recover. People don’t develop all aspects of wisdom at once. For example, some people have more insight than discretion; others have more knowledge than common sense. But we can pray for all aspects of wisdom and take the steps to develop them in our life. (NLT)
Proverbs 2:9-10 – Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.
* Parents must encourage their children to become wise
One of the greatest responsibilities of parents is to encourage their children to become wise. Here Solomon tells how his father, David, encouraged him to seek wisdom when he was young. This encouragement may have prompted Solomon to ask God for an understanding mind above everything else. Wisdom can be passed on from parents to children, from generation to generation. Ultimately, of course, all wisdom comes from God; parents can only urge their children to turn to him. If your parents never taught you in this way, you can learn from the Scriptures and then create a legacy of wisdom as you teach your own children. (NLT)
Proverbs 4:3-4 – For I, too, was one my father’s son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child. My father told me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my instructions and you will live.
* You must decide to go after wisdom
If you want wisdom, you must decide to go after it. It takes resolve–a determination not to abandon the search once you begin, no matter how difficult the road may become. This is not a once-in-a-lifetime step but a daily process of choosing between two paths–the wicked and the righteous. Nothing else is more important or more valuable. (NLT)
Proverbs 4:5-7 – Learn to be wise, and develop good judgment. Don’t forget or turn away from my words. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgment.
* Wisdom & foolishness contrasted
Wisdom and Folly (foolishness) are portrayed in this chapter as rival young women, each preparing a feast and inviting people to it. But Wisdom is a responsible woman of character, while Folly is a prostitute serving stolen food. Wisdom appeals to the mind; Folly to the senses. It is easier to excite the senses, but the pleasures of Folly are temporary. By contract, the satisfaction that Wisdom brings lasts forever. (NLT)
Proverbs 9:1 – Wisdom has built her spacious house with seven pillars.
* Wisdom of not being selfish
For a government or society to endure, it needs wise, informed leaders–and these are hard to find. Each person’s selfishness quickly affects others. A selfish employee who steals from his company ruins its productivity. A selfish driver who drinks before taking the wheel makes the state highways unsafe. A selfish spouse who has an adulterous affair often breaks up several families. When people live for themselves with little concern for how their actions affect others, the resulting moral rot contaminates the entire nation. Are you part of the problem or the solution? (NLT)
Proverbs 28:1-4 – The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.
When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But with wise and knowledgeable leaders, there is stability.
A poor person who oppresses the poor is like a pounding rain that destroys the crops.
To reject the law is to praise the wicked; to obey the law is to fight them.
* Wisdom for not treating others justly
Because justice is part of God’s character, a person who follows God treats others justly. Justice begins with concern for what is happening to others. A Christian cannot be indifferent to human suffering because God isn’t. And we certainly must not contribute to human suffering through selfish business practices or unfair government policies. Be sure you are more concerned for justice than for the bottom line. (NLT)
Proverbs 28:5-8 – Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the Lord understand completely.
It is better to be poor and honest than rich and crooked.
Young people who obey the law are wise; those who seek out worthless companions bring shame to their parents.
A person who makes money by charging interest will lose it. It will end up in the hands of someone who is kind to the poor.
* Wisdom for not forsaking our sin
God does not listen to our prayers if we intend to go back to our sin as soon as we get off our knees. When we forsake our sin and follow him, however, he willingly listens–no matter how bad our sin has been. What closes his ears is not the depth of our sin but our secret intention to do it again. (NLT)
Proverbs 28:9-10 – The prayers of a person who ignores the law are despised.
Those who lead the upright into sin will fall into their own trap, but the honest will inherit good things.
* Wisdom is not thinking money is everything
Rich people think they are wonderful; depending on no one, they take credit for all they do. But that’s a hollow self-esteem. Through dependence on God in their struggles, the poor may develop a richness of spirit that no amount of wealth can provide. The rich man can lose all his material wealth, while no one can take away the poor man’s character. Don’t be jealous of the rich; money may be all they will ever have. (NLT)
Proverbs 28:11-12 – Rich people picture themselves as wise, but their real poverty is evident to the poor.
When the godly succeed, everyone is glad. When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding.
* Wisdom is not overlooking our mistakes or thinking we could be wrong
It is human nature to hide our sins or overlook our mistakes. But it is hard to learn from a mistake you don’t acknowledge making. And what good is a mistake if it doesn’t teach you something? To learn from an error you need to admit it, confess it, analyze it, and make adjustments so that it doesn’t happen again. Everybody makes mistakes, but only fools repeat them.
Something in each of us strongly resists admitting we are wrong. That is why we admire people who openly and graciously admit their mistakes and sins. These people have a strong self-image. They do not always have to be right to feel good about themselves. Be willing to reconsider—to admit you are wrong and to change your plans when necessary. And remember, the first step toward forgiveness is confession. (NLT)
Proverbs 28:13-14 – People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy.
Blessed are those who have a tender conscience, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
* World’s wisdom vs. God’s wisdom
Edom was noted for its wise men. There is a difference, however, between human wisdom and God’s wisdom. The Edomites may have been wise in the ways of the world, but they were foolish because they ignored and even mocked God. (NLT)
Obadiah 1:8 – At that time not a single wise person will be left in the whole land of Edom!” says the Lord. “For on the mountains of Edom I will destroy everyone who has wisdom and understanding.”
* Tapping wisdom of the elderly
Although Simeon and Anna were very old; they had never lost their hope that they would see the Messiah. Led by the Holy Spirit, they were among the first to bear witness to Jesus. In the Jewish culture, elders were respected, so because of Simeon’s and Anna’s age, their prophecies carried extra weight. Our society, however, values youthfulness over wisdom, and contributions by the elderly are often ignored. As Christians, we should reverse those values wherever we can. Encourage older people to share their wisdom and experience. Listen carefully when they speak. Offer them your friendship, and help them find ways to continue to serve God. (NLT)
Luke 2:36 – Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, and was very old. She was a widow, for her husband had died when they had been married only seven years.
* Wisdom comes from walking with God
Jesus was filled with wisdom, which is not surprising since he stayed in close contact with his heavenly Father. God gives wisdom generously to all who ask. Like Jesus, we can grow in wisdom by walking with God. (NLT)
Luke 2:40 – There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom beyond his years, and God placed his special favor upon him.
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