“Jehovah Himself Gives Wisdom”
WHAT pursuits consume your time and energy? Is making a good name for yourself a matter of concern to you? Do you devote yourself to the gathering of riches? How about pursuing a career in a certain field of endeavor or developing expertise in one or more branches of learning? Is cultivating good relationships with others important to you? Is staying in good health your main concern?
All of the foregoing may seem to have some value. But what is of prime importance? The Bible answers: “Wisdom is the prime thing. Acquire wisdom.” (Proverbs 4:7) So how may we gain wisdom, and what are its benefits? The second chapter of the Bible book of Proverbs provides the answers.
“Pay Attention to Wisdom”
In the loving words of a father, wise King Solomon of ancient Israel says: “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.”—Proverbs 2:1-5.
Do you see where the responsibility for gaining wisdom lies? In these verses, the expression “if you” appears three times. Clearly, it is up to each one of us to seek wisdom and its handmaidens—discernment and understanding. First, though, we need to “receive” and “treasure up” in memory the words of wisdom recorded in the Scriptures. For this we need to study the Bible.
Wisdom is the ability to put God-given knowledge to proper use. And how wonderfully the Bible makes wisdom available! Yes, it contains words of wisdom, such as those recorded in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, and we need to pay attention to these words. We also find in the pages of the Bible many examples that show the benefits of applying godly principles and the pitfalls of ignoring them. (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11) For instance, consider the account of greedy Gehazi, the attendant of the prophet Elisha. (2 Kings 5:20-27) Does it not teach us the wisdom of avoiding greed? And what about the tragic outcome of seemingly harmless visits made by Jacob’s daughter Dinah to “the daughters of the land” of Canaan? (Genesis 34:1-31) Do we not readily discern the folly of bad associations?—Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33.
Paying attention to wisdom entails acquiring discernment and understanding. According to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, discernment is “the power or faculty of the mind by which it distinguishes one thing from another.” Godly discernment is the ability to distinguish right from wrong and then to choose the correct course. Unless we ‘incline our heart’ to discernment or are eager to acquire it, how can we stay on “the road leading off into life”? (Matthew 7:14; compare Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.) The study and application of God’s Word imparts discernment.
How may we “call out for understanding”—the ability to see how the aspects of a subject relate to one another and to the whole? Age and experience, of course, are factors that can help us develop greater understanding—but not necessarily so. (Job 12:12; 32:6-12) “With more understanding than older men I behave,” said the psalmist, “because I have observed your [Jehovah’s] own orders.” He also sang: “The very disclosure of your words gives light, making the inexperienced ones understand.” (Psalm 119:100, 130) Jehovah is “the Ancient of Days,” and he has understanding infinitely superior to that of all mankind. (Daniel 7:13) God can impart understanding to an inexperienced one, enabling him to surpass in that quality even those older in years. Therefore, we ought to be diligent in studying and applying God’s Word, the Bible.
The repeated phrase “if you” in the opening passage of the second chapter of Proverbs is followed by such expressions as “receive,” “treasure up,” “call out,” “keep seeking,” “keep searching.” Why does the writer use these expressions of increasing intensity? Says one reference work: “The sage [here] emphasizes the necessity of earnestness in the pursuit of wisdom.” Yes, we must earnestly pursue wisdom and its related qualities—discernment and understanding.
Will You Put Forth the Effort?
A major factor in the pursuit of wisdom is the diligent study of the Bible. This study, though, should be much more than reading simply for the sake of getting information. Purposeful meditation on what we read is an essential part of studying the Scriptures. Gaining wisdom and discernment involves pondering over how we can use what we are learning in solving problems and in making decisions. Acquiring understanding calls for contemplating how the new material fits in with what we already know. Who will deny that such a reflective study of the Bible requires time and energetic effort? The investment of time and energy is similar to that spent when ‘seeking for silver and searching for hid treasures.’ Will you put forth the needed effort? Will you ‘buy out the opportune time’ to do so?—Ephesians 5:15, 16.
Consider what great treasures await us if we with an honest heart dig deep into the Bible. Why, we would find “the very knowledge of God”—the sound, stable, life-giving knowledge of our Creator! (John 17:3) “The fear of Jehovah” is also a treasure to gain. How valuable this reverential awe of him is! The healthy fear of displeasing him must govern every aspect of our life, adding a spiritual dimension to all that we do.—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
A keen desire to search and dig for spiritual treasures should be burning within us. To facilitate our search, Jehovah has provided excellent digging tools—the timely journals of truth The Watchtower and Awake!, as well as other Bible-based publications. (Matthew 24:45-47) For our education in his Word and ways, Jehovah has also provided Christian meetings. We need to attend these regularly, give ear to what is being said, put forth earnest effort to concentrate on and treasure up key thoughts, and think deeply about our relationship with Jehovah.—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
You Will Not Fail
Often, a search for buried gems, gold, or silver proves fruitless. This does not have to be the case with the search for spiritual treasures. Why not? “Jehovah himself gives wisdom,” Solomon assures us, “out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.”—Proverbs 2:6.
King Solomon was renowned for his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:30-32) The Scriptures reveal that he had knowledge of a variety of subjects, including plants, animals, human nature, and God’s Word. The discernment he displayed as a young king in settling the dispute between two women, each claiming to be the mother of the same child, helped to bring him international fame. (1 Kings 3:16-28) What was the source of his great learning? Solomon prayed to Jehovah for “wisdom and knowledge” and the ability “to discern between good and bad.” Jehovah granted him these.—2 Chronicles 1:10-12; 1 Kings 3:9.
We too should pray for Jehovah’s help as we diligently study his Word. The psalmist prayed: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) Jehovah approved of that prayer, for he had it recorded in the Bible. We can be confident that our earnest and frequent prayers for his help to find spiritual treasures in the Bible will not go unanswered.—Luke 18:1-8.
Solomon points out: “For the upright ones he will treasure up practical wisdom; for those walking in integrity he is a shield, by observing the paths of judgment, and he will guard the very way of his loyal ones. In that case you will understand righteousness and judgment and uprightness, the entire course of what is good.” (Proverbs 2:7-9) What a reassurance this is! Jehovah not only gives true wisdom to those who sincerely seek it but also proves to be a protective shield for the upright ones because they manifest true wisdom and loyally conform to his righteous standards. May we be among those whom Jehovah helps to understand “the entire course of what is good.”
When “Knowledge Itself Becomes Pleasant”
Personal study of the Bible—an essential requirement for seeking wisdom—is not necessarily a pleasant prospect for many people. For example, 58-year-old Lawrence says: “I have always worked with my hands. Studying is hard for me.” And 24-year-old Michael, who did not enjoy studying in school, says: “I had to force myself to sit down and study.” Yet, a desire to study can be cultivated.
Consider what Michael did. He relates: “I disciplined myself to study for a half hour every day. Soon I could see the effect on my attitude, my comments at Christian meetings, and my conversations with others. Now I look forward to my study periods, and I hate to have anything interfere with them.” Yes, personal study becomes an acquired taste when we see the progress we make. Lawrence too applied himself to Bible study and, in time, came to serve as an elder in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
To make personal study an enjoyable experience requires consistent effort. The benefits, though, are great. “When wisdom enters into your heart and knowledge itself becomes pleasant to your very soul,” says Solomon, “thinking ability itself will keep guard over you, discernment itself will safeguard you.”—Proverbs 2:10, 11.
“To Deliver You From the Bad Way”
In what way will wisdom, knowledge, thinking ability, and discernment prove to be a safeguard? “[They are] to deliver you from the bad way,” says Solomon, “from the man speaking perverse things, from those leaving the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, from those who are rejoicing in doing bad, who are joyful in the perverse things of badness; those whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their general course.”—Proverbs 2:12-15.
Yes, those who cherish true wisdom avoid association with anyone “speaking perverse things,” that is, things contrary to what is true and right. Thinking ability and discernment furnish protection against those who reject the truth only to walk in the ways of darkness and against those who are devious and who find pleasure in evil deeds.—Proverbs 3:32.
How grateful we can be that true wisdom and its associated qualities also protect us from the bad way of immoral men and women! Solomon adds that these qualities are “to deliver you from the strange woman, from the foreign woman who has made her own sayings smooth, who is leaving the confidential friend of her youth and who has forgotten the very covenant of her God. For down to death her house does sink and down to those impotent in death her tracks. None of those having relations with her will come back, nor will they regain the paths of those living.”—Proverbs 2:16-19.
“The strange woman,” the prostitute, is portrayed as one who leaves “the confidential friend of her youth”—likely the husband of her young womanhood.a (Compare Malachi 2:14.) She has forgotten the prohibition on adultery that was a part of the Law covenant. (Exodus 20:14) Her tracks are leading to death. Those having company with her might never “regain the paths of those living,” since sooner or later they may reach a point of no return, namely death, from which they cannot come back. A man of discernment and thinking ability is aware of the lures of immorality and wisely avoids getting entangled in them.
‘The Upright Will Reside in the Earth’
Summing up the objective of his counsel on wisdom, Solomon states: “The purpose is that you may walk in the way of good people and that the paths of the righteous ones you may keep.” (Proverbs 2:20) What a wonderful purpose wisdom serves! It helps us lead a happy and satisfying life that meets with God’s approval.
Consider also the grand blessings that are in store for those who “walk in the way of good people.” Solomon continues: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.” (Proverbs 2:21, 22) May you be among the blameless who will reside forever in God’s righteous new world.—2 Peter 3:13.
a The word “stranger” was applied to those who turned aside from what was in harmony with the Law and thus alienated themselves from Jehovah. Hence, the prostitute—not necessarily a foreigner—is referred to as a “strange woman.”
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Solomon prayed for wisdom. So should we