“The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her” (Proverbs 4:7-8). It’s a funny piece of advice, isn’t it? The beginning of wisdom is to get it. In the Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman: alluring, satisfying, exalting, serving and rewarding.
Wisdom sounds very lovely in the proverbs. It makes sense that we would be exhorted to find her and keep her. There’s a difference between wisdom and knowledge. It isn’t that they are totally different; more like siblings. Knowledge is easy and it is everywhere. In fact, it has been a hailed and steadfast commitment of our culture to educate for decades. Our culture finds a lack of education as the root of all evil. I’m not so sure.
It isn’t too far off to suggest we are a culture steeped in education but we are also rich in confusion, chaos and sin. With so much access to so much knowledge, shouldn’t we be better off? Perhaps no one is making the connection but our problem seems more to be that we lack wisdom than we lack knowledge. Once again, they are siblings so to have one you get the other—eventually.
Getting wisdom is different than getting knowledge, at least in this way: wisdom is like a time-release capsule whose impact is received slowly. This makes it less a “prize” in our eyes than the immediacy of knowledge. The young are smart but not terribly wise. The old are wise and may or may not be smart. Knowledge leads to seeing but wisdom leads to understanding. Wouldn’t you rather understand than simply see?
Wisdom cannot be obtained without relationships. Knowledge can come over YouTube but not wisdom. Personifying wisdom as a woman to be sought hints at this aspect. Beloved, we could say with Scripture, the beginning of wisdom is this: get the church. The church is the Bride of Christ and she is an essential companion if we are to be wise. In her midst are saints who have traveled roads you and I will one day pass. Saints whose scars tell us stories that we must hear. Saints whose vision and understanding makes our knowledge seem stale. Yes, beloved, if you want wisdom, get the church.