Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight; common sense; good judgment.” The Bible enhances this definition: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Proverbs 9:10, ESV).
While biblical wisdom contains the concepts of knowledge and good judgment, most importantly it is based on our understanding of God and who He is. Fear of the Lord is not the fear of danger or an enemy. Rather it is awe and reverence for God and who He is. According to the Bible, proper understanding of who God is leads to a revelation of His wisdom.
The Bible tells us that God’s wisdom is infinite, limitless: Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure (Psalm 147:5, ESV).
In his book Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer says that God is wise in Himself. And, without creation, His wisdom would have remained hidden in the divine nature. God created man so that He could enjoy His creation and we could rejoice in Him: “all the shining wisdom of men and angels is but a reflection of that uncreated effulgence which streams from the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” (Tozer, page 60).
His infinite wisdom is the basis for all truth. While knowledge is the gathering of information, wisdom is rightly applying that information. One can be knowledgeable and still be ignorant. But, while wisdom overcomes ignorance, knowledge is still necessary for wisdom to exist.
One of God’s other attributes, omniscience—the quality of fully knowing all things— gives God all knowledge along with His inherent wisdom.
Wisdom goes beyond just knowledge and specifies that God always chooses the best goals and the best means to achieve those goals. God doesn’t guess. God’s wisdom sees from the beginning to the end. According to Tozer, “wisdom sees everything in focus.”
No matter how it may appear, God’s acts cannot be improved; they are always perfect:
And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them (Isaiah 42:16, ESV).
Scripture affirms God’s wisdom in several places:
To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen (Romans 16:27, ESV).
“With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13, ESV).
How countless are your works, LORD! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures (Psalm 104:24, CSB).
God’s wisdom is displayed in the flawless unfolding of the gospel, from the new birth to the ultimate conquest of evil and the revelation of Christ’s kingdom.
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe…God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise…so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 1:21,27,29, ESV).
Man cannot even imagine how he could do something better than God. I know that everything God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of him (Ecclesiastes 3:14, CSB).
Knowing and believing that God is wise, however, is not enough.
“Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the surest way to become wise is to pursue the knowledge of God. As we come to know more about Him, the foundation for wisdom becomes firmer in our lives and we grow in our ability to discern things according to His revealed truth. We come to know the Lord primarily through the prayerful reading, preaching, and teaching of His Word. If you want to be wise, you must know the God of Scripture."
—Steve Lawson, writing at ligonier.org
After chapters of cyclic crying out, consolation, challenges, and complaints, Job 28 stands as a testament to the wisdom of God. Having spent much time with several companions and coming to no good conclusion as to why he is in the place he finds himself in, chapter 28 reveals Job’s continued faithfulness to God. Throughout the chapter the author displays that faith as we see an understanding of God and the mystery that continues to surround Him.
Job 28:12-13,20, ESV queries:
12.“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?
13. Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living.”
20.“From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding?”
Job 28:21,23, ESV answers:
21.“It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air.”
23.“God understands the way to it, and he knows its place.”
The chapter finishes with an echo back to Proverbs 9:10:
Job 28:28, ESV: “And he (God) said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”
Comparing wisdom as found in the two Testaments, Daniel J. Ebert IV, writing at desiringgod.org, says: “In the New Testament wisdom’s strikingly reoriented around the cross work of Christ and sets a new pattern for life. Wisdom in the Old Testament was to lead to a life of virtue; such a life is now made abundantly possible through Christ.”
“In all our Maker’s grand designs,
Omnipotence, with wisdom, shines:
His work, through all this wondrous frame,
Declares the glory of His Name.”