True Wisdom from God
The PowerPoint presentation
When you think of a wise man, what do you think of?
When I did a search for it on DuckDuckGo, the first one that wasn’t a stock image of some random wise person was Dumbledore from Harry Potter.
Right after that, it was the three wise men from Matthew 2.
On Google it was Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, and the wise men from Matt. 2 come much later.
But with all these, you see a theme running through them.
They all seem to be older with long beards, well-read and/or lots of experience.
People like to seek out these old gurus for some nugget of wisdom to bring meaning to their existence (Prov. 3:13).
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.
They seek for them in wild and exotic places, on lone mountaintops, at Hogwarts, or in Middle Earth.
They might forget that the words of Dumbledore are written by J. K. Rowling (32 when first book was published), the words of Gandalf by J. R. R. Tolkein (62 when Lord of the Rings was first published).
Hardly the image people dream up when they think of a wise man.
It’s true today that people seek wisdom, but it was also true in Solomon’s day and in the first century.
Solomon—there were people eager to hear a wise word from this wise king (1 Kgs 4:34; 10:24).
Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.
Solomon himself set out to seek after wisdom (Eccl. 1:13).
And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised.
Jesus—people from all around came and wanted to hear from Jesus (Mark 3:7-8 – Galileans, Judeans [Jerusalem], Idumeans, beyond the Jordan, Tyre and Sidon).
Jesus Himself was greater than Solomon (Matt. 12:42).
This was true until He started preaching things that were hard to understand or unpopular (John 6:66).
Philosophers—many even wanted to hear what they thought was great human wisdom (Acts 17:21).
For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
We’re not like that today, are we? Where we want to hear some new or novel thing?
Of course we are. What do you think the internet is?
The difference between…
Dumbledore and Gandalf with Solomon and Jesus is that the former are fictional.
Their source of wisdom is from that of men.
The latter, Solomon and Jesus, are very real people, and the Source of their wisdom comes from God!
The philosophers in Athens, their wisdom came from man, from what they reasoned in their own minds was true and noble.
The same is true today, where man’s wisdom often is preferred over God’s wisdom.
But God’s wisdom has been with us in its entirety for nearly 2000 years—it is not some new thing that we often crave.
It’s why some are often into new prophecies, excluded books, Bible codes etc. ad infinitum, when people just need to sit down and read what they got!
There is much to be mined from these pages!
What is true wisdom?
Where does it come from?
How can we obtain it?
What is true wisdom?
Dictionary definition (Merriam-Webster).
Ability to discern inner qualities and relationships.
Generally accepted belief.
Accumulated philosophical or scientific learning.
Synonyms: sense, common sense, judgment; acumen, caution, experience, foresight, intelligence, knowledge, poise, prudence, sanity, savvy, sophistication, understanding.
Proverbs 9:10; 1:7.
James describes two types of wisdom from two different sources (which we will discuss next).
He describes the favorable wisdom as: “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, fully of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy” (James 3:17).
The wicked form of wisdom James describes as: “earthly, sensual, demonic” and comes from a place of “envy and self-seeking” (James 3:14-16) – this is not true wisdom.
Often what the world defines as wise is foolishness to God and vice versa (1 Cor. 1:19-20, 25).
For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? … Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Where does true wisdom come from?
James describes it as coming from above as opposed to wisdom that does not descend from above (James 3:17).
Paul calls it the wisdom of God, or the wisdom from God—Christ (1 Cor. 1:21, 30).
It doesn’t come from Dumbledore or Gandalf from any works of fiction, but from the Lord.
And oftentimes the wisdom of the world doesn’t gel with the wisdom of God and vice versa.
That doesn’t mean the world doesn’t have anything to teach us—we still have to learn how to function in our own society.
But our focus ought to be on God in how we conduct ourselves.
Solomon knew where true wisdom came from.
He asked that God give it to him, and He did! (1 Kgs 3:6-14).
That didn’t mean he didn’t make mistakes, like allowing his heart to be turned from God because of the love he had for his wives (1 Kgs 11:1-8).
It also didn’t mean he didn’t have to work for it, to seek it out (Eccl. 1:13).
That doesn’t mean that wisdom cannot be gained through others.
The first place we get wisdom is from our parents, right? (Prov. 22:6).
They teach us not to play in traffic, to get back up when we fall, and to eat our vegetables.
And ideally, they teach us to honor and revere God (Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15).
But throughout life we have teachers, advisors, and mentors that guide us and help us get to where we need to be.
Some you can choose, some you can’t. If you can, make sure you choose a good one! Of course, that takes a degree of wisdom, too, doesn’t it?
But ultimately, true wisdom comes from God—if they are telling you something right, it is from God.
How can we obtain true wisdom?
Be like Solomon and ask for it (1 Kgs 3:6-9; James 1:5).
James tells us that if we lack it, we should ask Him for it, because He will give it “liberally and without reproach.”
But as we discussed, Solomon still worked at it.
Be like Solomon and continue to seek it out (Eccl. 12:9-12).
He studied many books to continue to increase in His wisdom (Eccl. 12:9-12).
He never stopped, just as Paul never stopped when he asked for the books and parchments when he was close to death (2 Tim. 4:13).
Ignore the wisdom of the world and keep the wisdom of God.
In order to recognize it, you must ask God for wisdom and continue studying and learning, particularly from the Word of God.
Not all these new and exciting things, but the book that was completed nearly 2000 years ago, with timeless knowledge and wisdom that has never and can never be topped!
As wise as both Solomon and Paul were, they never stopped learning!
And we are continually searching for that ancient faith, that old Jerusalem gospel!
Be like Solomon and fear God and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13-14).
That’s where Solomon ends his discourse on the futility of life.
This was the final bit of wisdom he had for us before his death.
And it happens to be where wisdom begins, too.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and now, “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”
The symmetry is wonderful, indicating that through it all, God must have center stage in our lives.
If we even hope to have a wisp of true wisdom, we must fear God, have a healthy respect and reverence for Him.
That’s where it all starts, and if we keep that up, we will end in a great place.
After all, it is the Scriptures that “are able to make [us] wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).
Regardless of what image you come up with when considering a wise man, Christ must be at the center of it.
As Paul wrote that Christ crucified is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24).
In that same context, he writes that Christ “became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (1 Cor. 1:30-31).
Your wise man might look like Dumbledore or Gandalf, but ultimately, if they have any wisdom at all, it comes from God.
The Lord of the Rings has overt Christian themes throughout, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Tolkein incorporate some biblical wisdom in with this character.
True wisdom is not of this world but from God.
It begins with the fear of the Lord, and it ends with that same fear leading one to keep His commandments.
We need to ask God for that wisdom, but we can’t stop searching for it ourselves.
That wisdom will lead us to obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ because we will recognize we can’t do it all on our own, and that we must rely on Him for it all!