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What is Wisdom?

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Discussion about the need and nature of wisdom.

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Who have you known that you would call wise? Why?
Four Cardinal virtues - initially derived from Plato’s Republic, “cardinal” means ‘of greatest importance’ - from the latin ‘hinge’
Prudence - the ability to judge between actions
sophia (gk.) - the capacity to understand, and hence to act wisely
hakmah (heb.) - the capacity to understand and so have skill in living
Courage (fortitude) - endurance and ability to confront fear and uncertainty
Restraint (temperance) - practice of self control
Justice - upright and fair
“Disciples are to be sheep indeed, but that does not mean that they are to be stupid… If we are to be sheep among wolves—and this IS Jesus’ intention—then we should at least be smart sheep, sheep who use our heads, sheep who don’t overestimate the benevolence of wolves.” - unknown author

1 Kings 3

hints of coming problems / heart that loved God
Marriage alliance with Pharaoh / people sacrificing at the high places
1 Kings 3:3 ESV
Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.
The people were sacrificing at the high places
The Lord took the inititiave - appeared to Solomon at Gibeon (the great high place), “Ask what I shall give you?”
Solomon asks for an “understanding mind to govern [God’s] people” — to discern between good and evil.
Gibeon - location of “the great high place”
It was a dream.
Sacrifice at Jerusalem (not Gibeon) / story of two prostitutes - “wisdom of God to do Justice”

- Description of Solomon’s wisdom

surpassing wisdom and understanding
resulted in proverbs and songs
spoke of plant and animal life

- Queen of Sheba visits

heard of his fame / came to test him with hard questions
he answered all her questions, nothing that he could not explain
“no more breath in her”
“The report was true.... And behold, the half was not told to me.”
“Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom.”
1 Kings 10:9 ESV
Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.”
1 Kings 10:9
“Blessed be the Lord your God,

Wisdom Prior to Solomon

Deuteronomy 4:6 ESV
Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’
Moses to the people, God’s statutes and rules:
Deuteronomy 4:6 ESV
Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’
Deuteronomy 34:9 ESV
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Deut 34
Moses laid his hands on Joshua, so that he was “full of the spirit of wisdom” - resulting in obedience of the people
- of David, seeing through a woman’s hard words, discerning the source, and changing his course
- Joab and army chasing a worthless man named Sheba who was holed up in a city. Joab was battering the wall to throw the city down, BUT a “wise woman” said “Listen! Listen!” Got a hearing with Joab, explained that she was of those who are peaceable and faithful. Then, being practical, “in her wisdom” got the people to behead Sheba and toss his head over the wall.
- David to Solomon - “Act according to your wisdom.”

Wisdom in the Bible

Wisdom describes the practical skills associated with living a successful life.
both intellectual and practical
also theoretical knowledge, speculative wisdom (i.e. Ecclesiastes), popular among the Greeks later
Most common for Jews - traditional wisdom (obedience to God’s teachings)
Psalm 19:7 ESV
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
Psalm 51:6 ESV
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Psalm 111:10 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
The key feature distinguishing biblical wisdom from its ancient Near Eastern conterparts is the “fear of the LORD.”
Proverbs 9:10 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

NT Wisdom

Foremost in Jesus.
Traditional wisdom is behind James’ distinction between divine wisdom and earthly wisdom.
James 3:13–17 ESV
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Get Wisdom

Proverbs 4:4–7 ESV
he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. 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.
Prov 4:4-7
James 1:2–5 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Harvard College Laws (1642) - 1st American University, original purpose:
James 1:
Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, , and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge an learning. And seeing the Lord giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer, in secret, to seek it of him.
2 Sam
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