Wisdom Explained

William J. Stewart | Lessons from the Book of Proverbs

Proverbs 8:12-36

The latter portion of Proverbs 8 extols the value of wisdom. Solomon tells us of those who are governed by it, of the LORD’s use of it, and then makes a plea to his son (and us) that we also subscribe to wisdom’s way.


I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion. … Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength. (8:12, 14)

Several things that go hand-in-hand with wisdom, both positive and negative. Prudence, knowledge, discretion, counsel, understanding, strength, diligence, honor, righteousness. All of these are associated with wisdom and those who follow it. Equally, there are some traits that have no part with wisdom: pride, arrogance, and evil. Pride and arrogance have a tendency to masquerade as wisdom—do not be fooled. They are part of this world’s wisdom, not godly wisdom.

Wisdom states,

Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness. (8:18)

Again, we must not be fooled. Evil can result in riches (see the warnings in chapter 1). Wealth attained by true wisdom involves honesty and integrity. Those who obtain wealth by wickedness are often consumed by their desire for riches. Though godly wisdom may lead to wealth (v 18, 20-21), it also comes with the understanding that the fruit of wisdom is much greater than wealth:

My fruit is better than gold, yes, than find gold, and my revenue than choice silver. (8:19)


The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before his works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth. (8:22-23)

Some are intrigued by old things, some count them as rubbish. There is nothing older than wisdom—it predates the world itself! Some old things wear out, fall apart and lose their usefulness. Wisdom is not like this at all; it has endured and will continue to endure. When we follow the path of wisdom, we are following God’s path.

Before the LORD made any of the amazing and beautiful things we see in this world, He fashioned wisdom. Wisdom was there before the creation began, and wisdom will be there after the elements have melted. She declares of herself:

…I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men. (8:30-31)

What a beautiful picture. As God made all things, He did so by wisdom. As He looks upon His creation, the Lord delights to see His wisdom in action. And when He looks upon humanity, He desires to see us walking in His wisdom.


Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death. (8:32-36)

Having cited the value of wisdom and revealed its origin, Solomon now calls us to put it into practice. Take up wisdom’s cause and make it our own.

It is sad that one of the common responses of the young to the wisdom of their parents is disdain. Solomon knew this. Therefore he commanded against it. Hear and be wise, listen to wisdom and be blessed, DO NOT DISDAIN IT.

There are so many things we warn children about, for their own protection, for safety sake. Don’t play with fire. Look both ways before crossing a street. Don’t run with scissors. Wear a helmet when riding a bike. The list goes on and on. And there is nothing wrong with these or other pieces of parental advice intended to care for the safety and future of children. Pursuing and obtaining godly wisdom ought to be at the top of the list. All of the above can be life and death situations—so is the pursuit of wisdom.

…whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:35-36)

Finding and following wisdom reaches far beyond this temporal existence. It is an eternal concern. Wisdom gives us life that is now, and that which is to come. Rejecting wisdom and walking in sinfulness will possibly result in premature death in the here and now, and will condemn the soul in eternity. Friend, we must choose wisely. Choose wisdom.

Every day is a new opportunity to grow in wisdom and understanding. Every time we open God’s word, spend time with God’s people, consider God’s character and works, we have an opportunity to excel in the path we are called to. May it be that we are watching daily for the lessons of wisdom; may it be that we are waiting at the doorpost for God’s instruction.

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