Still another supplemental post on the Social Gospel Blog with Rev. Paul J. Bern
What Is Wisdom? I'm glad you asked....
What Is Wisdom? There Are Two Books of the Bible Where Wisdom’s Definition Can Be Found
(Ecclesiastes 12: 7-11; Proverbs 1, verses 1-9) by Rev. Paul J. Bern
We are stuck living in a world that, for the most part, is currently being operated by some pretty stupid people. From the White House to white picket fences and everything in between, American society has become increasingly dumb. In former times, problems like this were fixed in our schools and at the ballot box, but US voters are coming to terms with the fact that our voting and educational systems are broken and has been in need of an overhaul for the last 2 generations or more. This began with the triple assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Rev. Dr. King, Jr. in the 1960’s, and it continues to get progressively worse as time goes on. The ugly truth of the matter is that the “dumbing down” of American schools that began after World War 2 has bloomed into the dysfunctional government and society that we are seeing today.
Our nation’s leaders, who we the American people have elected into office, are too gridlocked to accomplish much of anything. Meanwhile, members of Congress continue to draw their $180,000.00 annual salaries where nobody really works full time. They draw full time pay for part time work while working Americans live on minuscule paychecks as we work our fingers to the bone. The resentment of our workers has reached a boiling point. We saw that on the news last January during the capitol riots in Washington, DC. This was not an aberration. It was and remains a harbinger for things to come.
The Bible has some things to say about wisdom that are just as pertinent and relevant today as they were when King Solomon of ancient Israel penned the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes 3,000 years ago. I will start with Ecclesiastes and finish up my weekly commentary with a quote from Proverbs. “7) Everyone’s toil is for their mouth, yet their appetite is never satisfied. What advantage have the wise over fools? 8) What do the poor gain by knowing how to conduct themselves before others? 9) Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 10)Whatever exists has already been named, and what humanity is has been known; no one can contend with someone who is stronger. 11) The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (Ecclesiastes 6: verses 7-11)
Back in King Solomon’s day, the vast majority of people led a hand-to-mouth existence. That’s why he wrote “7) Everyone’s toil is for their mouth, yet their appetite is never satisfied.” Everybody always wanted more because there were times when there simply wasn’t enough to go around. Solomon continues: “What advantage have the wise over fools? 8) What do the poor gain by knowing how to conduct themselves before others?” To sum this up in 21st century lingo, people who see themselves as intelligent are no smarter than someone considered too dumb or maybe a little slow.
“9) Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Better to be satisfied with what you have than to always be wanting more. I can’t make this any more simple than that. Turns out King Solomon was a pretty smart and insightful individual. And now let me share another quote, this time from the Book of Proverbs. “1) The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2) for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4) for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—5) let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—6) for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8) Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9) They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” (Proverbs 1; verses 1-9)
Seek knowledge while it can still be found. The further along our botched up world goes, the more rare and rich that knowledge becomes. “2) for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair….) The world has a lot to learn about doing what is right and fair. Prudent behavior means simply thinking through your plan of action before you start. In the following verse this gets highlighted: “4) for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—5) let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Solomon summed it up perfectly in the following verse: “7) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This does not mean we are expected to fear God, but God does give us that option. It is the fear of what might happened to us if we treat the commandments of God in a haphazard manner – that is how the Bible defines fear.
“8) Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9) They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Treat your upbringing like fine jewelry. If we ignore the instruction of our parents, our pastors and clergy and our peers, don’t be surprised when things turn sour, as will inevitably happen. Their teaching and instruction will save you a lot of grief, and it will keep all of us in good standing with the Lord through Christ, who has redeemed the souls of us all.