The Wisdom of God


to the only wise God
be glory forevermore
through Jesus Christ!
Amen.

Romans 16:27 ESV

As the son of David, who was the man after God’s own heart, Solomon must have felt an even greater weight as being king over Israel. He was now the man whom God would hold responsible for leading His chosen people, His elect nation, but he also needed to follow the rocky but ultimately powerful reign of his father. Few have likely ever felt that level of pressure.

As Solomon began to rule over Israel, he did so with great devotion to the LORD. While he was offering a sacrifice one day, God spoke a simple command to the young king: “Ask what I shall give you.” Solomon answered back:

You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?

1 Kings 3:6-9

This request pleased the LORD, and He gave Solomon wisdom as well as riches, length of days, and victory over his enemies. Soon all of Israel “perceived that the wisdom of God was in him” (1 King 3:28).

THE ONLY WISE GOD

As we studied with God’s omnipotence, Power can properly used as a name of God (Mark 14:62), meaning that all power lies within His being and is His alone to give. In the same manner, God alone truly is wise because wisdom is intrinsic to His being, and, thus, all wisdom that God’s creatures come to possess is derived from Him. In fact, we can express the attribute of God’s wisdom as a fourth omni, His omnisapience. Our God is all-wise, or in the final verse of Paul’s letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul concludes both the letter and its final doxology with these words: “to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Romans 16:27). Because there is no wisdom apart from God, He can properly only be called wise.

But what is wisdom exactly?

Tremper Longman III defines it as “the skill of living. It is a practical knowledge that helps one know how to act and how to speak in different situations. Wisdom entails the ability to avoid problems, and the skill to handle them when they present themselves.[1] This definition is especially fitting since the Hebrew word for wisdom can also be translated as skill. Thus, wisdom is knowledge applied to life, information in action. Thus, even though Solomon’s request before God never used the word wisdom, it provided a fitting description: “an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil.” Wisdom entails using our understanding to discern between good and evil, between what should and should not be done.

Mark Jones then shows how wisdom is seen in God Himself:

Divine wisdom has in view God’s ability (i.e., power) to act for a right end. The end reveals not only his wisdom but also the means that lead to that end. By his knowledge God discerns things, and by his wisdom, he acts on such understanding. Knowledge concerns the theoretical and wisdom the practical… God in wisdom skillfully manages all things, ordering them according to his infinite understanding.[2]

By His wisdom, God skillfully rules over His creation. Notice, therefore, that God’s wisdom is almost a description of His sovereignty. He is not only the only supreme King who declares the ending before the beginning (Isaiah 46:10); He is the supremely wise King who providentially governs the cosmos that He has made. He not only reigns absolutely; He reigns absolutely well. He rules all things with perfect skill. Proverbs 8:22-31 drive this point home by having a personification of wisdom describe its role in creation:

The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped
before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.

By wisdom, God formed the heavens and the earth. He fashioned the world with great skill and omniscient understanding, declaring it to be good. And we do indeed behold the wisdom of God through His creation, if only we have eyes to see it. Birds, giraffes, photosynthesis, bioluminescence, mountains, and auroras are all singing praise to the skill of their Maker, if only we have ears to hear it.

But what of evil? If God’s wisdom is absolute, why has He allowed wickedness to infiltrate His creation? The argument often then claims that because evil exists, God cannot be both all-powerful and utterly good. The Scriptures, however, testify that, while God is by no means the author of sin, He did not neglect to factor it into His plans. In Ephesians 3:11, Paul calls God’s redemption of His church “the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Neither Satan’s initial rebellion nor the first sin of Adam and Eve caught God by surprise. Being omniscient, He knew those events from the eternity past before He ever began the cosmos.

Indeed, Paul notes that our redemption from sin actually displays the wisdom of God more vividly. While discussing God’s grace being given to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, the apostle declares of this grace, “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). The word manifold literally means multicolored. We can, therefore, think of God’s wisdom as light. Through God’s initial act of creation, we are still able to view a steady ray of dazzling light. The addition of sin and, more importantly, the Savior from sin becomes a prism, which refracts the light into the full color spectrum. There is no difference made to the light itself; the prism only allows us to view variety of colors that naturally remain unseen within a ray of light. God’s wisdom is similar. Because God is simple, His wisdom is immutable. It does not change. Yet the story of redemptive history is a prism for us (and, as Paul notes particularly, the angelic beings) to see the manifold and multicolored beauty of God’s wisdom.

THOUGH IT COST ALL YOU HAVE

If God truly is omnisapient, trust Him more than yourself. Trust that He knows what is better for you than you do yourself, especially given that His perfect wisdom is perfectly good. To embrace the wisdom of God means that we must first learn to deny being wise in our own eyes. We must come to the realization that our wisdom is altogether insufficient. We need the manifold wisdom of God to lead and guide us.

The first nine chapters of Proverbs are one gigantic plea for us to get God’s wisdom, and Proverbs 4:5-7 give us a taste of the overall message:

Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

Verse 7 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible! Here is the beginning of wisdom. Are you listening closely? Get wisdom! If you can only get one thing from life, get insight! There is a desperation in these words of a father pleading with his son, knowing that if he can only grab onto wisdom, he will walk through life well.

Although we are a people with far greater sums of knowledge at our fingertips than any generation before us, our drought of wisdom is only becoming more apparent. We are in desperate need of “the skill of living.” We must turn, therefore, to the “only wise God.” We must go the source of wisdom’s fountain. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). Wisdom begins with knowing the fearful and awesome God who is all-wise.

Brother and sisters, “Hear instruction, and be wise, and do not neglect it” (Proverbs 8:33). The wisdom of God is calling, are you listening?


[1] Tremper Longman III, How to Read the Proverbs, 14-15.

[2] Mark Jones, God Is, 158.

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