The Biblical sense of wisdom lays emphasis on sound judgment, based on knowledge and understanding; the ability to use knowledge and understanding successfully to solve problems, avoid or avert dangers, attain certain goals, or counsel others in doing so. It is the opposite of foolishness, stupidity, and madness, with which it is often contrasted.—De 32:6; Pr 11:29; Ec 6:8.
The basic terms signifying wisdom are the Hebrew chokh·mahʹ (verb, cha·khamʹ) and the Greek so·phiʹa, with their related forms. Also, there are the Hebrew tu·shi·yahʹ, which may be rendered “effectual working” or “practical wisdom,” and the Greek phroʹni·mos and phroʹne·sis (from phren, the “mind”), relating to “sensibleness,” “discretion,” or “practical wisdom.”
Wisdom implies a breadth of knowledge and a depth of understanding, these giving the soundness and clarity of judgment characteristic of wisdom. The wise man ‘treasures up knowledge,’ has a fund of it to draw upon. (Pr 10:14) While “wisdom is the prime thing,” the counsel is that “with all that you acquire, acquire understanding.” (Pr 4:5-7) Understanding (a broad term that frequently embraces discernment) adds strength to wisdom, contributing greatly to discretion and foresight, also notable characteristics of wisdom. Discretion implies prudence and may be expressed in caution, self-control, moderation, or restraint. The “discreet [form of phroʹni·mos] man” builds his house on a rock-mass, foreseeing the possibility of storm; the foolish man builds his on sand and suffers disaster.—Mt 7:24-27.
Understanding fortifies wisdom in other ways. For example, a person may obey a certain command of God because he recognizes the rightness of such obedience, and this is wisdom on his part. But if he gets real understanding of the reason for that command, the good purpose it serves, and the benefits accruing from it, his heart determination to continue in that wise course is greatly strengthened. (Pr 14:33) Proverbs 21:11 says that “by one’s giving insight to a wise person he gets knowledge.” The wise person is happy to get any information that will grant him a clearer view into the underlying circumstances, conditions, and causes of problems. Thereby he “gets knowledge” as to what to do regarding the matter and knows what conclusions to draw, what is needed to solve the existing problem.—Compare Pr 9:9; Ec 7:25; 8:1; Eze 28:3; see INSIGHT.
Divine Wisdom. Wisdom in the absolute sense is found in Jehovah God, who is “wise alone” in this sense. (Ro 16:27; Re 7:12) Knowledge is acquaintance with fact, and since Jehovah is the Creator, who is “from time indefinite to time indefinite” (Ps 90:1, 2), he knows all there is to know about the universe, its composition and contents, its history till now. The physical laws, cycles, and standards upon which men rely in their research and invention, and without which they would be helpless and have nothing stable upon which to build, are all of His making. (Job 38:34-38; Ps 104:24; Pr 3:19; Jer 10:12, 13) Logically, his moral standards are even more vital for stability, sound judgment, and successful human living. (De 32:4-6; see JEHOVAH [A God of moral standards].) There is nothing beyond his understanding. (Isa 40:13, 14) Though he may allow things that are contrary to his righteous standards to develop and even temporarily prosper, the future ultimately rests with him and will conform precisely to his will, and the things spoken by him “will have certain success.”—Isa 55:8-11; 46:9-11.
For all these reasons it is evident that “the fear of Jehovah is the start of wisdom.” (Pr 9:10) “Who should not fear you, O King of the nations, for to you it is fitting; because among all the wise ones of the nations and among all their kingships there is in no way anyone like you.” (Jer 10:7) “He is wise in heart and strong in power. Who can show stubbornness to him and come off uninjured?” (Job 9:4; Pr 14:16) In his mightiness he can intervene at will in human affairs, maneuvering rulers or eliminating them, making his prophetic revelations prove infallible. (Da 2:20-23) Biblical history recounts the futile efforts of powerful kings with their astute counselors to pit their wisdom against God, and it highlights the way he has triumphantly vindicated his servants who loyally proclaimed his message.—Isa 31:2; 44:25-28; compare Job 12:12, 13.
“God’s wisdom in a sacred secret.” The rebellion that broke out in Eden presented a challenge to God’s wisdom. His wise means for ending that rebellion—wiping out its effects and restoring peace, harmony, and right order in his universal family—formed “a sacred secret, the hidden wisdom, which God foreordained before the systems of things,” that is, those systems that have developed during man’s history outside Eden. (1Co 2:7) Its outlines were contained in God’s dealings with, and promises to, his faithful servants during many centuries; it was foreshadowed and symbolized in the Law covenant with Israel, including its priesthood and sacrifices, and was pointed to in innumerable prophecies and visions.
Finally, after more than 4,000 years, the wisdom of that sacred secret was revealed in Jesus Christ (Col 1:26-28), through whom God purposed “an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” (Eph 1:8-11) God’s provision of the ransom for the salvation of obedient mankind and his purpose for a Kingdom government, headed by his Son and able to end all wickedness, were revealed. Since God’s grand purpose is founded on and centered in his Son, Christ Jesus “has become to us [Christians] wisdom from God.” (1Co 1:30) “Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” (Col 2:3) Only through him and by faith in him, God’s “Chief Agent of life,” can salvation and life be attained. (Ac 3:15; Joh 14:6; 2Ti 3:15) There is, therefore, no true wisdom that fails to consider Jesus Christ, that does not base its judgment and decisions solidly on God’s purpose as revealed in him.—See JESUS CHRIST (His Vital Place in God’s Purpose).
Human Wisdom. Wisdom is personalized in the book of Proverbs, depicted there as a woman inviting persons to receive what she has to offer. These accounts and related texts show that wisdom is indeed a blend of many things: knowledge, understanding (which includes discernment), thinking ability, experience, diligence, shrewdness (the opposite of being gullible or naive [Pr 14:15, 18]), and right judgment. But since true wisdom begins with the fear of Jehovah God (Ps 111:10; Pr 9:10), this superior wisdom goes beyond ordinary wisdom and includes holding to high standards, manifesting righteousness and uprightness, as well as adhering to truth. (Pr 1:2, 3, 20-22; 2:2-11; 6:6; 8:1, 5-12) Not all wisdom measures up to that superior wisdom.
Human wisdom is never absolute but is relative. Wisdom on a limited scale is attainable by man through his own efforts, though he must in any case use the intelligence with which God (who even gave the animals certain instinctive wisdom [Job 35:11; Pr 30:24-28]) initially endowed man. Man learns from observation of, and working with, the materials of God’s creation. Such wisdom may vary in type and extent. The Greek word so·phiʹa is often applied to skill in a certain trade or craft, to skill and sound administrative judgment in governmental and business fields, or to extensive knowledge in some particular field of human science or research. Similarly, the Hebrew chokh·mahʹ and cha·khamʹ are used to describe the ‘skillfulness’ of sailors and ship caulkers (Eze 27:8, 9; compare Ps 107:23, 27) and of workers in stone and wood (1Ch 22:15), as well as the wisdom and skill of other craftsmen, some having great talent in a wide variety of crafts. (1Ki 7:14; 2Ch 2:7, 13, 14) Even the skilled image carver or idol maker is described by such terms. (Isa 40:20; Jer 10:3-9) The shrewd practice of the business world is a form of wisdom.—Eze 28:4, 5.
All such wisdom may be had even though the possessors lack the spiritual wisdom the Scriptures particularly advocate. Nevertheless, God’s spirit may enhance some of these types of wisdom where they are useful in accomplishing his purpose. His spirit activated those constructing the tabernacle and its equipment as well as those weaving the priestly garments, men and women, filling them with both ‘wisdom and understanding.’ Thereby they not only understood what was desired and the means for accomplishing the work but also displayed the talent, artistry, vision, and judgment necessary to design and produce superb work.—Ex 28:3; 31:3-6; 35:10, 25, 26, 31, 35; 36:1, 2, 4, 8.
Ancient wise men. Men noted for their wisdom and counsel were anciently prized by kings and others, even as in modern times. Egypt, Persia, Chaldea, Edom, and other nations had their bodies of “wise men.” (Ex 7:11; Es 1:13; Jer 10:7; 50:35; Ob 8) Such bodies evidently included the priests and government officials but were not restricted to such; they probably included all those ‘elders’ of the nations who were particularly known for their wisdom and who resided near the capital so as to be available for counseling. (Compare Ge 41:8; Ps 105:17-22; Isa 19:11, 12; Jer 51:57.) The monarchs of Persia had a privy council of seven wise men for quick consultation (Es 1:13-15), and lesser Persian officials might have their own staff of wise men.—Es 6:13.
Joseph, by the help of God’s spirit, displayed such discretion and wisdom that Egypt’s ruling Pharaoh made him his prime minister. (Ge 41:38-41; Ac 7:9, 10) “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” and was “powerful in his words and deeds” even prior to God’s making him his spokesman. But this human wisdom and ability did not qualify Moses for God’s purpose. After his first attempt (at the age of about 40) to bring relief to his Israelite brothers, Moses had to wait another 40 years before God sent him forth, a spiritually wise man, to lead Israel out of Egypt.—Ac 7:22-36; compare De 34:9.
Solomon was already wise before entering into full kingship (1Ki 2:1, 6, 9), yet he humbly acknowledged himself “but a little boy” in prayer to Jehovah and sought his aid in judging God’s people. He was rewarded with “a wise and understanding heart” unequaled among Judah’s kings. (1Ki 3:7-12) His wisdom surpassed the famed wisdom of the Orientals and of Egypt, making Jerusalem a place to which monarchs or their representatives traveled to learn from the Judean king. (1Ki 4:29-34; 10:1-9, 23-25) Certain women of ancient times were also noted for their wisdom.—2Sa 14:1-20; 20:16-22; compare Jg 5:28, 29.
Not always used for good. Human wisdom can be used for good or for bad. In the latter case it definitely betrays itself as wisdom that is only fleshly, not spiritual, not from God. Jehonadab was “a very wise man,” but his counsel to David’s son Amnon was based on shrewd strategy and manipulation of people by deceit, bringing dubious success and disastrous consequences. (2Sa 13:1-31) Absalom cunningly campaigned to unseat his royal father David (2Sa 14:28-33; 15:1-6) and, upon occupying Jerusalem, solicited the advice of two of his father’s counselors, Ahithophel and Hushai, concerning what further steps he might shrewdly take. Ahithophel’s wise advice was consistently of such accuracy that it appeared as if it came from God. Nevertheless, he had become a traitor to God’s anointed, and Jehovah caused his wise battle plan to be rejected in favor of faithful Hushai’s plan, which skillfully played on Absalom’s vanity and human weaknesses to bring about his downfall. (2Sa 16:15-23; 17:1-14) As Paul wrote of God: “‘He catches the wise in their own cunning.’ And again: ‘Jehovah knows that the reasonings of the wise men are futile.’”—1Co 3:19, 20; compare Ex 1:9, 10, 20, 21; Lu 20:19-26.
Apostate priests, prophets, and wise men of the Israelite nation in time led the people to oppose God’s counsel and commands as spoken by his loyal servants. (Jer 18:18) As a result, Jehovah caused ‘the wisdom of their wise men to perish and the understanding of their discreet men to conceal itself’ (Isa 29:13, 14; Jer 8:8, 9), bringing the 500-year-old kingdom to ruin (as he later did to Jerusalem’s proud destroyer, Babylon, and to the boastful dynasty of Tyre). (Isa 47:10-15; Eze 28:2-17) They rejected spiritual wisdom in favor of fleshly wisdom.
The vanity of much of human wisdom. Investigating “the calamitous occupation” that sin and imperfection have brought mankind, King Solomon weighed the value of the wisdom that men in general develop and attain and found it to be “a striving after wind.” The disorder, perversion, and deficiencies in imperfect human society were so far beyond man’s ability to straighten out or compensate for, that those ‘getting an abundance of wisdom’ experienced increased frustration and irritation, evidently because they became acutely conscious of how little they could personally do to improve matters.—Ec 1:13-18; 7:29; compare Ro 8:19-22, where the apostle shows God’s provision for ending mankind’s enslavement to corruption and subjection to futility.
Solomon also found that while such human wisdom produced varied pleasures and proficiency that brought material wealth, it could not bring true happiness or lasting satisfaction. The wise man dies along with the stupid, not knowing what will become of his possessions, and his human wisdom ceases in the grave. (Ec 2:3-11, 16, 18-21; 4:4; 9:10; compare Ps 49:10.) Even in life, “time and unforeseen occurrence” might bring sudden calamity, leaving the wise without even such basic needs as food. (Ec 9:11, 12) By his own wisdom man could never find out “the work of the true God,” never gain solid knowledge of how to solve man’s highest problems.—Ec 8:16, 17; compare Job chap 28.
Solomon does not say human wisdom is utterly without value. Compared with mere foolishness, which he also investigated, the advantage of wisdom over folly is like that of ‘light over darkness.’ For the wise man’s eyes “are in his head,” serving his intellectual powers, whereas the stupid man’s eyes do not see with thoughtful discernment. (Ec 2:12-14; compare Pr 17:24; Mt 6:22, 23.) Wisdom is a protection of greater value than money. (Ec 7:11, 12) But Solomon showed that its worth is all relative, entirely dependent on its conformity to God’s wisdom and purpose. (Ec 2:24; 3:11-15, 17; 8:12, 13; 9:1) A person can be excessive in striving to manifest wisdom, pushing himself beyond the limits of his imperfect ability in a self-destructive course. (Ec 7:16; compare 12:12.) But by obediently serving his Creator and being content with food, drink, and the good that his hard work brings him, God will give him the needed “wisdom and knowledge and rejoicing.”—Ec 2:24-26; 12:13.
Contrasted with God’s sacred secret. The world of mankind has developed a fund of wisdom over the centuries—much of it is taught through its schools and by other means of instruction, while some is acquired by individuals through personal association with others or by experience. For the Christian there is need to know the right attitude to adopt toward such wisdom. In an illustration of an unrighteous steward who manipulated his master’s accounts with certain debtors so as to gain a secure future, Jesus described the steward as ‘acting with practical wisdom [phro·niʹmos, “discreetly”].’ This shrewd foresight, however, was the practical wisdom of “the sons of this system of things,” not that of “the sons of the light.” (Lu 16:1-8, Int) Earlier, Jesus praised his heavenly Father for hiding certain truths from the “wise and intellectual ones” while revealing them to his disciples, who were by comparison like “babes.” (Lu 10:21-24) The scribes and Pharisees, educated at rabbinic schools, were among such wise and intellectual ones.—Compare Mt 13:54-57; Joh 7:15.
In that first century, the Greeks were especially renowned for their culture and accumulated knowledge, their schools and philosophic groups. Probably for that reason Paul paralleled ‘Greeks and Barbarians’ with ‘wise and senseless ones.’ (Ro 1:14) Paul strongly emphasized to the Christians at Corinth, Greece, that Christianity is not reliant on nor characterized by “the wisdom [so·phiʹan] of the world,” that is, the world of mankind alienated from God. (1Co 1:20; see WORLD [The world alienated from God].) Not that among the multiple facets of the world’s wisdom there was nothing useful or beneficial, for Paul sometimes made use of skill learned in the tentmaking trade and also quoted on occasion from literary works of worldly authors to illustrate certain points of truth. (Ac 18:2, 3; 17:28, 29; Tit 1:12) But the overall outlook, methods, standards, and goals of the world—its philosophy—were not in harmony with the truth, were contrary to ‘God’s wisdom in the sacred secret.’
So the world in its wisdom rejected God’s provision through Christ as foolishness; its rulers, though they may have been able and judicious administrators, even “impaled the glorious Lord.” (1Co 1:18; 2:7, 8) But God, in turn, was now proving the wisdom of the worldly wise to be foolishness, putting their wise men to shame by using what they considered “a foolish thing of God,” as well as persons they deemed ‘foolish, weak, and ignoble,’ to accomplish His invincible purpose. (1Co 1:19-28) Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians that “the wisdom of this system of things [and] that of the rulers of this system of things” would come to nothing; hence such wisdom was not part of the apostle’s spiritual message. (1Co 2:6, 13) He warned Christians in Colossae against being ensnared by “the philosophy [phi·lo·so·phiʹas, literally, love of wisdom] and empty deception according to the tradition of men.”—Col 2:8; compare vss 20-23.
Despite its temporary benefits and successes, the world’s wisdom was doomed to produce failure. But the Christian congregation of God’s anointed had spiritual wisdom that led to “the unfathomable riches of the Christ.” Since that congregation formed part of God’s sacred secret, by his dealings with it and his purposes fulfilled in it, he made known or revealed “the greatly diversified wisdom of God” through the congregation, even to “the governments and the authorities in the heavenly places.” (Eph 3:8-11; 1:17, 18; compare 1Pe 1:12.) Its members, having “the mind of Christ” (compare Php 2:5-8), had knowledge and understanding vastly superior to that of the world, hence they could speak, “not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit,” with “a mouth and wisdom” opposers could not refute, though such Christians might be looked down upon as “unlettered and ordinary” by worldly standards.—1Co 2:11-16; Lu 21:15; Ac 4:13; 6:9, 10.
Waging spiritual warfare. The apostle Paul relied on godly wisdom in waging spiritual warfare against any who threatened to pervert Christian congregations, such as the one in Corinth. (1Co 5:6, 7, 13; 2Co 10:3-6; compare 2Co 6:7.) He knew that “wisdom is better than implements for fighting, and merely one sinner can destroy much good.” (Ec 9:18; 7:19) His reference to “overturning strongly entrenched things” (2Co 10:4) corresponds in idea to the Greek Septuagint rendering of part of Proverbs 21:22. Paul knew the human tendency to give prime attention to those having impressive manner, obvious talent, or powerful personality and speech; he knew that the ‘quiet speech of a wise man of little material wealth’ is often ignored in favor of those giving greater appearance of mightiness. (Compare Ec 9:13-17.) Even Jesus, who did not have the earthly wealth and position Solomon possessed but who had vastly superior wisdom, was shown little respect and attention by the rulers and people.—Compare Mt 12:42; 13:54-58; Isa 52:13-15; 53:1-3.
To some who boasted in fleshly abilities (contrast Jer 9:23, 24) rather than in the heart, Paul’s personal appearance was viewed as “weak and his speech contemptible.” (2Co 5:12; 10:10) Yet he avoided any extravagance of speech or display of human wisdom and its power to persuade, so that his hearers’ faith would be built up through God’s spirit and power and be founded on Christ rather than on “men’s wisdom.” (1Co 1:17; 2:1-5; 2Co 5:12) With spiritual foresight, Paul was “a wise director of works,” not of material construction but of spiritual construction, working with God to produce disciples that manifested truly Christian qualities.—1Co 3:9-16.
Hence, no matter how much of the world’s wisdom one might have by virtue of skill in trades, shrewdness in commerce, administrative ability, or scientific or philosophic learning, the rule was: “If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this system of things, let him become a fool, that he may become wise.” (1Co 3:18) He should be proud only of ‘having insight and knowledge of Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth,’ for in this Jehovah takes delight.—Jer 9:23, 24; 1Co 1:31; 3:19-23.
Wise administration. As wisdom personified states: “I have counsel and practical wisdom. I—understanding; I have mightiness. By me kings themselves keep reigning, and high officials themselves keep decreeing righteousness. By me princes themselves keep ruling as princes, and nobles are all judging in righteousness. Those loving me I myself love, and those looking for me are the ones that find me.” (Pr 8:12, 14-17) The Messianic King displays such superior wisdom from God. (Isa 11:1-5; compare Re 5:12.) This surpasses the ability men may have or develop naturally, making one wise in the principles of God’s law and, with the aid of his spirit, making it possible to render judicial decisions that are right and free from partiality. (Ezr 7:25; 1Ki 3:28; Pr 24:23; compare De 16:18, 19; Jas 2:1-9.) Such wisdom is not apathetic toward wickedness but wars against it.—Pr 20:26.
Men selected for responsibility within the Christian congregation qualified, not on the basis of worldly success, fleshly wisdom, or natural abilities, but because of being “full of spirit and [godly] wisdom.” (Ac 6:1-5; compare 1Ti 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9.) Such ones were among the “prophets and wise men and public instructors” Jesus had promised to send out, and they could also serve as judges and counselors within the congregation, even as fleshly Israel had had its wise men who served in similar ways. (Mt 23:34; 1Co 6:5) They recognized the value of consulting together.—Pr 13:10; 24:5, 6; compare Ac 15:1-22.
Acquiring True Wisdom. The proverb counsels: “Buy truth itself and do not sell it—wisdom and discipline and understanding.” (Pr 23:23) Jehovah, the Source of true wisdom, grants it generously to those who sincerely seek it and ask for it in faith, showing a wholesome, reverential fear of him. (Pr 2:1-7; Jas 1:5-8) But the seeker must spend time in study of God’s Word; learn His commands, laws, reminders, and counsel; consider the history of God’s acts and doings; then apply these in his life. (De 4:5, 6; Ps 19:7; 107:43; 119:98-101; Pr 10:8; compare 2Ti 3:15-17.) He wisely buys out the opportune time, not acting unreasonably in a wicked time, but “perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” (Eph 5:15-20; Col 4:5, 6) He must develop firm faith and unshakable conviction that God’s power is invincible, that His will is certain of success, and that His ability and promise to reward faithfulness are sure.—Heb 11:1, 6; 1Co 15:13, 14, 19.
Only in this way can the person make right decisions as to his life course and not be swayed by fear, greed, immoral desire, and other damaging emotions. (Pr 2:6-16; 3:21-26; Isa 33:2, 6) As wisdom personified says: “Happy is the man that is listening to me by keeping awake at my doors day by day, by watching at the posts of my entrances. For the one finding me will certainly find life, and gets goodwill from Jehovah. But the one missing me is doing violence to his soul; all those intensely hating me are the ones that do love death.”—Pr 8:34-36; 13:14; 24:13, 14.
Wisdom and the heart. Intelligence is obviously a major factor in wisdom, yet the heart, which relates not just to thinking but to motivation and affection as well, is clearly a more important factor in gaining true wisdom. (Ps 49:3, 4; Pr 14:33; see HEART.) God’s servant wants to get “sheer wisdom” in his “secret self,” have wise motivation in planning his life course. (Compare Ps 51:6, 10; 90:12.) “The heart of the wise is at his right hand [that is, ready to help and protect him at critical moments (compare Ps 16:8; 109:31)], but the heart of the stupid [is] at his left hand [failing to direct him in the course of wisdom].” (Ec 10:2, 3; compare Pr 17:16; Ro 1:21, 22.) The truly wise person has trained and disciplined his heart in the way of wisdom (Pr 23:15, 16, 19; 28:26); it is as though he had written righteous commandments and law ‘upon the tablet of his heart.’—Pr 7:1-3; 2:2, 10.
Experience and right association. Experience contributes measurably to wisdom. Even Jesus grew in wisdom as he passed through childhood. (Lu 2:52) Moses assigned as chieftains men who were “wise and discreet and experienced.” (De 1:13-15) While one learns a measure of wisdom from suffering punishment or by observing others receive it (Pr 21:11), a superior and timesaving way to wisdom is profiting by and learning from the experience of those already wise, preferring their company to that of “inexperienced ones.” (Pr 9:1-6; 13:20; 22:17, 18; compare 2Ch 9:7.) Older persons are more likely to have such wisdom, particularly those who give evidence of having God’s spirit. (Job 32:7-9) This was illustrated notably at the time of Rehoboam’s kingship. (1Ki 12:5-16) However, “better is a needy but wise child [relatively speaking] than an old but stupid king, who has not come to know enough to be warned any longer.”—Ec 4:13-15.
The city gates (often having adjacent public squares) were places where older men gave wise counsel and judicial decisions. (Compare Pr 1:20, 21; 8:1-3.) The voice of foolish persons usually was not heard in such an atmosphere (either in soliciting wisdom or offering it), their chatter being elsewhere. (Pr 24:7) Though association with wise ones brings discipline and occasional rebuke, this is far better than the song and laughter of the stupid. (Ec 7:5, 6) The person who isolates himself, pursuing his own narrow, restricted view of life and his own selfish desires, eventually goes off on a tangent contrary to all practical wisdom.—Pr 18:1.
Revealed in personal conduct and speech. Proverbs 11:2 states that “wisdom is with the modest ones”; James speaks of the “mildness that belongs to wisdom.” (Jas 3:13) If jealousy, contention, bragging, or stubbornness is present in a person, it indicates that he is lacking true wisdom and is being guided, rather, by wisdom that is “earthly, animal, demonic.” True wisdom is “peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey.” (Jas 3:13-18) “The rod of haughtiness is in the mouth of the foolish one, but the very lips of the wise ones will guard them.” They wisely hold back from presumptuous, harsh, or rash speech. (Pr 14:3; 17:27, 28; Ec 10:12-14) From the tongue and lips of the wise comes well-thought-out, healing, pleasant, beneficial speech (Pr 12:18; 16:21; Ec 12:9-11; Col 3:15, 16), and instead of stirring up trouble, they seek to bring calm and to ‘win souls’ by wise persuasion.—Pr 11:30; 15:1-7; 16:21-23; 29:8.
Those who become ‘wise in their own eyes,’ elevating themselves above others (even above God), are worse off than the person who is stupid but does not pretend to be otherwise. (Pr 26:5, 12; 12:15) Such self-assuming persons are too proud to accept correction. (Pr 3:7; 15:12; Isa 5:20, 21) Paradoxically, both the lazy man and the man who gains riches tend toward this attitude. (Pr 26:16; 28:11; compare 1Ti 6:17.) But “an earring of gold, and an ornament of special gold, is a wise reprover upon the hearing ear” (Pr 25:12); yes, “give a reproof to a wise person and he will love you.”—Pr 9:8; 15:31-33.
Wisdom in the family. Wisdom builds up a household, not just a building, but the family and its successful life as a unit. (Pr 24:3, 4; compare Pr 3:19, 20; Ps 104:5-24.) Wise parents do not hold back the rod and reproof, but by discipline and counsel they protect their children against delinquency. (Pr 29:15) The wise wife contributes greatly to the success and happiness of the family. (Pr 14:1; 31:26) Children who wisely submit to parental discipline bring joy and honor to the family, upholding its reputation against slander or accusation, and give proof to others of their fathers’ wisdom and training.—Pr 10:1; 13:1; 15:20; 23:24, 25; 27:11.