KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING
6, 7. How does wisdom differ from knowledge, and why is wisdom “the prime thing”?
6 Reading the Bible will bring us knowledge. Knowledge, however, is not enough. “Wisdom is the prime thing. Acquire wisdom, and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding.
Knowledge alone will not do this.
7 Knowledge means, simply, acquaintance or familiarity with facts, gained by observation and experience or by reading and study. Knowledge is basic; without it we are ignorant. But wisdom, as the book of Proverbs says, is “the prime thing.” Why? Because wisdom means the putting of knowledge to work in a way that brings good results, desirable results. It is the “prime thing” because without it our knowledge—life itself—would be of little value. By wisdom we attain the goals we aim at, the purposes we pursue.—Prov. 8:4-21, 32-36; Eccl. 7:11, 12.
8, 9. Explain what understanding is.
8 Where, then, does understanding fit in? And why does the Bible say that with all our acquisition of wisdom we should acquire understanding?
9 Understanding means to see facts as they relate to one another. It implies discernment and insight, seeing into the whys and wherefores of a matter. With understanding we see, not just the isolated points of a matter, but the whole picture. We can, in effect, “put two and two together” and come up with the right conclusion.—Dan. 9:22, 23.
10. Illustrate the meaning of understanding and of wisdom in connection with the use of a Bible concordance.
10 We might illustrate this by the use of a Bible concordance. If we look up a certain word in the concordance, say the word “faith,” we will find many texts listed under the word. If we read them we gain knowledge. If we can see how they relate together, how they harmonize with and illuminate one another, how they affect our relationship to our Creator, then we have gained understanding. And if we then effectively apply these truths in our own lives and use them to aid others, we are exercising wisdom.—Prov. 15:2, 7; Eccl. 12:9, 10.
11. Why is knowledge “an easy thing” to a person who has understanding?
11 Understanding helps us both in gaining knowledge and in exercising wisdom. Proverbs 14:6 says that “to the understanding one knowledge is an easy thing.” Why is this? It is because the understanding person is able to relate new facts to previous knowledge, see where they connect up and fit in. By his thus tying them in with such previous knowledge the new facts make a lasting impression on his mind and are remembered. And to really “know” something we must remember it, not simply hear or read it and forget it. Besides this, the understanding person sees things in sharper focus. He sees how they relate to God and his purposes and how they affect him himself. So understanding establishes knowledge, makes it more firm.
12. Explain how understanding fortifies wisdom and, therefore, why it is so important to acquire understanding.
12 Understanding likewise fortifies wisdom. That is why the proverb says, “Acquire wisdom; and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding.” A person may have the knowledge and wisdom to drive an automobile. But if he understands how the automobile is put together, how the different parts work and what is the function of each, he will be a better driver, a wiser driver. So, too, with the Bible. A person may read in the Bible that he should do a certain thing. Because it is in the Bible, he accepts it as instruction from God and does it. This is the course of wisdom. But if he fortifies this wisdom with increased understanding, learning why God wants such an action performed, the purpose it serves, how it relates to God’s other purposes, then his conviction and resolve to continue on in faithful performance is greatly strengthened. With understanding he can truly love and serve God with his whole heart, his whole soul and his whole mind.—Matt. 22:37.