We learned last time that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. If we respect God’s sovereignty and understand the fact that He has the authority to tell us how life we should be, and if we obey God, then that will be the first step toward becoming wise.
And we learned that when we pursue wisdom, we get a lot of benefits out of it. We don’t sin as much or make as many mistakes so we don’t have to suffer through as many consequences. We make better decisions on how to spend our time and our money and we reap the benefit of that by having more time for what really matters and hopefully being a little better off financially. We make better decisions on how to treat our bodies and so, hopefully, we live longer.
So today I want to find out just how it is that we are supposed to get wisdom. We know it starts with respecting God, but what is the next step?
1 Kings 3:4-28 - The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." 6 Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 7 "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life." 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord's covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. [a] Then he gave a feast for all his court.
16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, "My lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us. 19 "During the night this woman's son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn't the son I had borne." 22 The other woman said, "No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours." But the first one insisted, "No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine." And so they argued before the king. 23 The king said, "This one says, 'My son is alive and your son is dead,' while that one says, 'No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.' " 24 Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other."
26 The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, "Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!" But the other said, "Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!" 27 Then the king gave his ruling: "Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother." 28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.
How did Solomon get his wisdom? He asked God for it and God gave it to him.
And after he prayed, how long did it take for Solomon to become wise? It seems pretty immediate. After he prayed, the very next thing we hear about is his ruling concerning the two women and the baby.
I wonder, then, if that is how we get wisdom. Do we just pray to God, “Give me wisdom”, and all of a sudden we’re wise? This is how it happened to Solomon, but Solomon was just one case. This is not the way God ordinarily gives us wisdom. We read about Solomon because Solomon’s case was miraculous.
So how do we get wisdom? And actually, Solomon is going to be the one to tell us. He is the one who wrote the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Why is it necessary for us to be humble, rather then prideful, in order to become wise? When we are prideful, we think that we know everything already. We don’t think we need anybody to teach us anything, not even God. So if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and we don’t think God can teach us anything, we can’t become truly wise because we lack the fear of the Lord. The person who is humble knows that they have a lot to learn and they are willing to let God and other people teach them.
So why does disgrace come with pride? Because when we thing we already know everything, that just shows how we little we do in fact know. When we rely on our own knowledge and reasoning rather than on God’s wisdom, we’re bound to get some things wrong. We’re bound to be disgraced because we didn’t start our thinking process properly with the fear of the Lord and letting God teach us.
Proverbs 2:1-6 – My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
How do we get wisdom? By listening to our parents (and those wiser than us) and searching for it.
Wisdom is something we have to work for. We have to pursue it and be humble enough to pay attention to people who have it. It usually doesn’t happen miraculously and it’s not going to happen automatically. We have to pursue it and pay attention when it’s being given to us.
What are some things we can do to pursue wisdom? Go to church and Sunday School or Bible studies. Listen to Christian teachers and spend time in God’s Word. Read books by Christian authors and find out what they’ve learned about God and about life. Pursue it. Search for it. Pay attention to it.
How else do we get wisdom? Proverbs 22:15 – Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
How many of you were disciplined or punished when you were younger? Did it help to make you more wise? Did you learn your lessons?
Why did our parents punish us? Proverbs 13:24 –He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Our parents disciplined us because they love us. Some parents discipline us because they’re annoyed at us and our behavior is bothering them, but discipline should be born out of love. They wanted us to learn our lessons and be good people and wanted to keep us from suffering bad consequences; getting in trouble or doing something destructive to ourselves.
It’s the same thing with God. Proverbs 3:11-12 – My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
So God punishes us because He loves us and He wants us to learn from our mistakes.
But how do we know when God is punishing us for something we did wrong? How do we know that something bad happening to us isn’t just a coincidence that doesn’t have anything to do with what we did?
We can’t know one hundred percent when God is punishing us. But when something negative is happening to us, we can learn to ask ourselves some questions. We can ourselves what brought this on. Was there anything I did to make this happen? Was there something I could have done differently or was there a better decision I could have made to avoid this negative thing happening to me right now? We should always look at those that are happening in our lives and ask ourselves what God might be trying to tell us through them. And remember those things for next time.
So we get wisdom by pursuing it; Spending time in God’s Word, listening to Christian teachers, reading Christian books. And by paying attention to our circumstances and learning from our mistakes.