I suppose there could be many qualities by which some people would like to be known. Someone might, for example, want to be remembered as beautiful. Another might want to be known as kind, generous, forgiving, loving or intelligent. Intelligent – what is intelligence? If you could be known as either smart or wise, which would you choose? Do you know the difference between intelligence and wisdom? Which is the better? I hope that you would choose wisdom.
I realize that this verse appears to blend the concepts of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. But in his typical poetic fashion I believe Solomon in this case uses either “knowledge” or “understanding” as a synonym of “wisdom.” “A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.” What he says is obvious, but for the sake of our devotional for this evening, let’s break it down and apply it.
Where is wisdom to be found?
That depends on the variety of wisdom being sought. Let’s imagine that some northern Asian country is blustering about destroying the United States. Some people might advise the president to nuke that country back into the stone age. But another more wise man might point out that the fall-out, nuclear and otherwise, might hurt us. So he devises some non-military strategy to silence the threats and cool the animosity of that other country. I know it’s hard to imagine, but there is such a thing as political wisdom. A counselor might have some wise words to bring together a pair of friends who have had a falling away. And there is also wisdom in the world of economics and business.
.nd where do these wise men and women pick up this wisdom? Sometimes it comes from their own experiences – they have suffered and now they know how to avoid it. Or less likely, they have learned their wisdom through observation and reading.
But is Solomon speaking about secular wisdom or any kind? If this verse came from Ecclesiastes we might consider that possibility. But, this is Proverbs, so I’m prone to think that he is speaking of wisdom of a higher sort. He is still talking about the wisdom with which he started the book.
In Jehovah – in the Lord – resides the highest of all wisdom. How could it possibly be otherwise? Can the infinite and omniscient God be anything less than infinitely wise? All of the characteristics we might think are supposed to be found in a wise man, are found in the Lord. But in addition to His knowledge of the facts, He has infinite knowledge of all possibilities, ramifications and potential circumstances. Plus, He is patient, loving, kind, merciful and gracious. In the Lord is perfect in wisdom and the perfect application of that wisdom. Furthermore, He has revealed Himself – He has revealed wisdom in His Word and His doctrine. Where is true wisdom to be found? Practically speaking, it is found in the Bible.
But for more than 90% of humanity that wisdom is never found.
And Solomon tells us why. It is because more than 90% of humanity are skeptics when it comes to the teachings of the scripture. Many are even more than that – they are scorners; they laugh at what they find in the Bible. “A scorner seeketh wisdom and findeth it not,” because he doesn’t expect to find it.
Let’s say that some observant student of nature realizes that longevity exists in the extract of a certain plant. He proves to himself that by the distillation of a certain variety of Brussel Sprout, human life can be extended by a hundred years or maybe even two hundred years. Let’s say that this man is smart but not very wise. He creates a web-page with which to dispense his new-found discovery. He buys ads to be placed at the bottom of a number of news and sports internet pages. When someone clicks on his ad, they are immediately transferred to a 30 minute video in which this man explains in detail how Brussel Sprouts will double or triple the length of people’s lives. He says, over and over again, that he wants the world to be blessed by his discovery. And therefore, he will sell his Brussel Sprout extract in monthly supplies – 30 pill bottles – for only $79.95 per bottle, but, of course, it will be half price for the first bottle.
Now, let’s imagine that you have accidentally discovered this ad and website. What is the likelihood that you are going to send this man $59.95? ($20 for postage and handling) Didn’t he say that you might not feel any effect until you’d been on his program for 6 months? It would take you $640.00 before you could begin to extend your life. And Isn’t it true that you might live to be 200 only if you first reach your one hundredth birthday? How many people do that? Among other things – perhaps even your own wisdom – among other things, wouldn’t your scepticism keep you from sending that many any money? And if someone asked you about this pill wouldn’t you in reality scorn the idea?
BUT – what if it was true and you were missing the opportunity to live a healthy life for 300 years or more?
Turning that around, the wisdom of God as found in the Bible has been proven to be true since the days of Moses and David. And yet, because of human depravity, the sons of men, have looked with skepticism on its pages. Oh yes, that child of the Christian has gone to Sunday School and heard hundreds of gospel messages, but he is a scornful skeptic. He says to his skeptical friends that if he found wisdom in God’s Word he would immediately accept it. But because his approach is one of scorn, he will never – Never – find the wisdom of God. As the Apostle Paul says in another context – “Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness had not attained to the law of righteousness Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith.” Eternal life is possible, but it is through repentance, faith, surrender and the worship of Jehovah. But more people are going to trust something like Brussel Sprouts than then are the Word of God. Only by grace is the unbeliever going to be saved from himself and his native skepticism and scorn.
Solomon, how is wisdom going to be discovered?
What does the grace of God do in the heart of the scornful? It gives him the ability to understand – understand what? The ability to understand, first of all, that there is a God and “Jehovah” is that God.
True wisdom – the highest wisdom – is found in the Lord God. Do you understand that? With that at the root of our souls, we can by faith access understanding and practical wisdom. In understanding and trusting that God has revealed Himself to us in His Word, we can find the knowledge necessary to see our sinfulness, spiritual deadness, and where eternal life can be found.
This leads us into a lesson on how to read and study the Word of God. It is summarized in the title of one of the books in my library – “Believing Bible Study.” Casting aside what we think we know, we must assume that the Bible is true – believe that it is true. But not every verse makes sense to us with our limited minds, limited experiences and limited faith. When we come to a scripture which some seminary professor has said is a myth, we must not join him in his scoffing, because doing so will keep us from finding wisdom. Just lay that verse aside, admitting our current lack of understanding and move on to what we can understand and know. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Cling to that as if your soul depends on it.
Wisdom is found in God’s Word, so read it as the truth, whether or not you can fully explain it. And rather than scoffing, pray for God’s blessing. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Discernment – that is what we need in order to find wisdom. And that discernment is a gift from God.
Lord, lead us into knowledge, then into understanding and finally into wisdom. Take from us our native skepticism, and may we never be found among the scorners. Grant to each of us eternal life, and the blessings of the wisdom which is found therein.