“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your possessions, acquire understanding. … I have instructed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths” (Proverbs 4:7, 11 NASB).
Our modern world often equates wisdom with our intelligence or as the natural result of our life experience. In other words, we have little control over whether or not we are wise. We either possess it innately or automatically gain it through life experience. According to the Bible, it’s neither.
In the Bible, wisdom is a skill that can be acquired and learned, but it also requires discipline. Both Psalms and Proverbs attach wisdom with the “fear” of (or obedience to) God. Wisdom dwells with God and in His Word. Yet it is something to be acquired—to grow in and continually learn.
Wisdom first appears in the Bible in connection with Bezalel and his craftsmen (Exodus 35-36), who were tasked with constructing the elements and vestments of the Tabernacle. They were artisans. They are also the first people to be filled with the Spirit of God. The way the Bible uses the term “wisdom” in the context of Bezalel shows that it is a skill acquired through disciplined, attentive action, and practice. Yes, God filled these artisans with His Spirit, but their ability came from their discipline, their wisdom.
In the Bible, God does not simply give us a skill or ability that we have not acquired and mastered through discipline. David had practiced his slingshot thousands of times before he confronted Goliath. Bezalel fashioned countless pieces, working on his art and his craft, before God called him to construct the elements of the Tabernacle. Our acquisition of wisdom, skill, and insight enables God to animate what we have mastered and expand its impact exponentially.
Life experience does not alone produce wisdom; neither is wisdom simply something one has or doesn’t have. Wisdom comes through discipline, through obedience. We can train ourselves to be wise. At the same time, wisdom—within the Bible—comes from God’s instructions, and learning His Word requires discipline and skill.
Biblical wisdom does not come to the lazy nor to those who want it quickly. We acquire it through discipline in our lives and in God’s Word. But the promise of wisdom is life.
Father, grant us Your wisdom. May we acquire it and walk in Your ways. Amen.