Notice that our text for this week talks about wisdom and understanding. Also notice that it is not talking about knowledge. Later we will discuss the relationship between these important items. For now, let’s address seven insights that the passage shares about wisdom:
1. We Get It. Solomon’s counsel to his son is to get wisdom. Implied in the text is the idea that wisdom, unlike knowledge, is not learned but is received instead. In this case, it is received from the words of the father’s mouth. Thus, the counsel is not to find new knowledge; Solomon’s warning is to remember the wisdom that we already possess. According to the implications of the text, the moment we come in contact with the Word of God, we also receive a measure of the gift of wisdom. The first work of wisdom is not to forget the wisdom we already have.
2. It Can Be Forsaken. In addition to being forgettable, wisdom is something that can be forsaken or abandoned. Solomon’s advice is to avoid the temptation that arises in every human heart to forsake wisdom when it goes contrary to the desires of the carnal heart. Do not walk away from it or leave it behind, for in preserving wisdom, it preserves us.
3. It Must Be Loved. Loving wisdom is the means by which we do not forsake it. It is not enough to appreciate its presence when we need it. Like an important relationship that we value, wisdom must be loved or else it will be forsaken.
4. Wisdom: The Principal. For Solomon, wisdom is the first and the best thing. It is first in the sense that it is foundational—without it, nothing else really matters. It is the best in the sense that wisdom is all you need—with it, nothing else really matters.
5. Wisdom: The Educator. What does Solomon mean when he tells us to exalt wisdom? He gives us the reason why we must give it first place: because wisdom knows how to promote the person who possesses it. One of the meanings of “promote” in the original text is to raise up a child or to cause him or her to grow up.
6. Wisdom Is Life. “Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3). Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). The Word of God is wisdom and life. In other words, there is a difference between life and living—a foolish person can be living without life, while the wise, “though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).
7. Wisdom Is Moral. Solomon admonishes his son not to be unwise—not to “enter the path of the wicked” or “walk in the way of evil” (Prov. 4:14). The implication in the text is that wisdom is just and good. There is moral value to wisdom as opposed to a mere acquiring of information or knowledge.