I am sorry for the delay in getting this lesson posted. If you are new to this study you can find all of the previous lessons using the Knowing God category link. There are also study materials for the book available at william.meisheid.com.
Last week we focused in on the deep and abiding wisdom of God in God Only Wise. This week we look at our apprehension of God’s wisdom, one of the greatest gifts he gives his adopted children. The importance of this gift is a recurring theme in Proverbs.
Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor. Proverbs 4:5-9
However, wisdom is one of those double-edged swords; people who think they are wise often aren’t. It is one of those situations were the knowledge and acceptance of your limitations are an integralt part of getting wisdom and maintaining it. A good example is Solomon, who by God’s own admission was the wisest of men.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men… 1 Kings 4:29-31a
But it is obvious from his eventual failures that Solomon did not maintain the integrity of his wisdom and toward the end may have completely lost it due to his disobedience.
And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. 1 Kings 11:9-10
Wisdom is rooted in learning what God wants to teach us and acting on it, so we must always be on guard not to close our ears to the admonition and correction of the Lord. Proverbs 15:33 holds the key.
The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Without the proper respect for God our Father and the readiness to daily bow our knee in willing submission, wisdom will either elude us or depart from us.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:14-16
So your mental and spiritual attitude is as important as anything else in the acquiring and maintaining of wisdom.
However, the reason we can even aspire to wisdom, according to Packer, is that we are made in the image of God and further as Christians we are being renewed in the image of Christ and God. Being made in Gods image we posses the portion of his communicable attributes (of which wisdom is one) that God could give us and still maintain the integrity between the creator and the created. So as his unique creation we have the God-given capacity for wisdom.
However, Packer believes that we first have to meet the prerequisites of reverence and reception. We have to acknowledge God as the source of wisdom and be willing to receive it by interacting with and embracing his Word, the Scriptures. Only a submitted heart will do these two things. In the New Testament that submitted heart comes from those who have been first born again.
When we look at the Word of God as door into wisdom we hopefully will appreciate that his Word views things as they really are; it is realistic above all else. The scriptures see both the depravity and spiritual hunger of mankind, the willing personal sacrifice along with the deception and treachery that mark out the human race, even the chosen of God (i.e. David). In addition, it clearly shows the nature of wisdom and how abandoning it leads to vanity and then destruction, as is so eloquently illustrated in Ecclesiastes.
Packer closes this chapter by exposing the problems of sloth and pride and their intimate connection to each other. Pride prevents us from seeing our lives as they really are; instead it colors things to appear as we want them to be. Pride creates a pretense of wisdom.
Sloth on the other hand, despite being an outdated word, it is very descriptive of the problem we face in the pursuit of wisdom. Packer argues that much of the sloth or apparent laziness that we see in Christians comes from wounded pride, when we reject the reforming lessons of humility. Discouraged, we internalize an aversion to the work required to admit to error, to repent and amend our ways. We avoid the necessary work because it is extremely painful, it is in all circumstances humbling, and it means the admission of abject failure, which is the antithesis of pride.
Packer argues that the simplest definition of wisdom is that it always pursues the best means to the best end, which he notes is Gods chosen end of restoring and perfecting the relationship between himself and human beingsthe relationship for which he made them.
In the end, what is wisdom according to Packer? It is this:
a disposition to confess that he [God] is wise, and to cleave to him and live for him in the light of his Word through thick and thin.
And it will:
make us more humble, more joyful, more godly, more quick-sighted as to his will, more resolute in the doing of it and less troubled (not less sensitive, but less bewildered) than we were at the dark and painful things of which our life in this fallen world is full. The New Testament tells us that the fruit of wisdom is Christlikeness
I close today with a fervent desire for yours and my continued growth in Christlikeness; that we would put aside, as the author of Hebrews says, anything that hinders our pursuit especially the sin that so readily and easily entangles us. May God’s grace and peace be with you this day and may your pursuit of wisdom be diligent and never-ending.