Wisdom and Knowledge

Wisdom would have no room for its exercise were there no knowledge. Knowledge is positively dangerous where there is no wisdom.

Knowledge consists of information as to God and all His works, as well as of all that sin has brought into the world. The former is desirable, the latter undesirable.

Wisdom is the faculty that enables the possessor of knowledge so to use it as to make it really useful, and avoid using it for what would be useless or mischievous.

  Knowledge cries, I know!
  Wisdom cries, I edify!

We must, however, distinguish between “knowledge” and “the knowledge of God.” “Knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1). We increase in or by the knowledge of God (see Col. 1:10). The knowledge of God would lead surely to humility and reverence and the growth of a spiritual constitution pleasing to Him. In our title we refer to “knowledge.”

The first mention of knowledge in the Bible is in Genesis 2:17. There we see pre-eminently the need of wisdom. The hand of disobedience was put out, Eve took of the forbidden fruit—her husband partook of her sin—our first parents fell, and in their fall dragged down the whole human race. Knowledge was acquired, but no wisdom, and man’s knowledge since then has been his ruin—knowledge of good, but no power to practise it; knowledge of evil and no power to resist it. And since that day man’s so-called wisdom has been consummate folly.

Writing to the assembly at Corinth, a place noted for its learning and notorious for its wickedness, Paul speaks of the wisdom of this world and of the princes of this world, which comes to nought True wisdom abides. The spurious article comes to nought. Man’s highest wisdom was to crucify Christ. Never was there an act of such a combination of folly and wickedness and injustice ever seen or will be in the history of this world.

Where does wisdom then begin with men? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 9:10). Wisdom has a large place in Scripture. In Proverbs 8 and 9 it is personified in a remarkable way, whilst in 1 Corinthians 1, Christ is made to us wisdom. How noticeable all this is!

In the case of the blessed Lord, all that He has worked out through His death and resurrection is all the working out of wisdom. There is a reason for everything. Everything in this connection is necessary. One thing more would have been superfluous; one thing less would have meant incompleteness.

Now as to applying it to ourselves, it is very noticeable that whenever wisdom and knowledge come together in the Scriptures wisdom always comes first.

The first mention of wisdom and knowledge together in the Word is found in Exodus 31 “I have filled him [Bezaleel] with the Spirit of God in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.”

Again in the assembly it is noticeable that wisdom is put first. We read: “To one is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:8).

It is sad how dangerous mere knowledge can be. What a length it can go, when undirected by wisdom, when it could be written, “Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died” (1 Cor. 8:11).

Wisdom always has edification in view. Paul exclaimed that he would rather speak five words with his understanding that others might be taught, than utter ten thousand words in an unknown tongue—showy as the latter performance would be.

How much we should be spared if all this were kept in view. Mere points do not feed the soul. Much that may be privately interesting is not necessarily useful for public edification. Theories and speculation that go beyond true knowledge should of course be kept quite clear of; but even knowledge, true and correct, is not to be used on all occasions, save as wisdom directs.

Paul showed his wisdom with the Hebrew believers when he fed them with milk and not with strong meat (Heb. 5:12-14); and again, the same with the Corinthians, when he could say, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ I have fed you with mill. and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

May the Lord exercise us more truly as to the use we make of our knowledge. We may turn knowledge into an instrument of discomfort and even pain to the saints. Wisdom would correct all that. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). What a character!

Do we feel our lack? We read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally and upbraids not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

This is a vast subject. In reference to our blessed Lord what a theme! Christ made to us the wisdom of God. What room for meditation! In studying Him we shall surely learn wisdom. How quickly we fail in these things! The Lord give us grace.