The book of Proverbs uses these same ideas to develop further the true path to wisdom and the implications for living life. The fear of the Lord is central to obtaining the knowledge that is key to living a life of wisdom. It is called the “beginning” of knowledge, which means that it is the first or controlling principle of a person’s life. You must start with the fear of the Lord to live a life of wisdom, but the fear of the Lord must also continue to be the basic perspective by which you live. It is foundational to everything else in life. First, it leads to knowledge (Hebrew da‘at). Knowledge includes information but it emphasizes more how to use that information. The craftsman who built the tabernacle had to know how “to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft” (Ex. 31:4–5). But to properly use that knowledge in ways that would be pleasing to the Lord included not just the work done on the tabernacle but also the right perspective that such work was done for the honor and glory of God. The Spirit of God was needed to help the craftsman approach the work with the right reverence for God (v. 3).
Wisdom in the book of Proverbs includes the right use of knowledge. Wisdom will help you understand how life works so that you can respond appropriately to various life situations. A wise person can navigate the problems and difficulties of life to achieve success as defined by God. Understanding the character of different kinds of people is necessary for knowing how to respond to them. The first instruction in the book (Prov. 1:8–19) exposes the false security of peer pressure to join a group that promises easy money by stealing from others. Wisdom exposes the evil in such a plan and shows the results that come if a person decides to live that way (vv. 18–19). Proverbs exposes the problems that come when life circumstances require a right response to avoid irreparable damage. Wisdom will help you respond appropriately to crooked men, the adulterous woman, fools, those who lack self-control, and those who speak lies so that you may avoid heartache, financial disaster, and unnecessary conflict. Wisdom can help you see beyond the allure of the promise of the supposed benefits that wickedness brings to see the horrible result of such living. Proverbs 1–9 is particularly geared to the young person who has not yet developed the ability to discern different situations to make the right decisions (1:4). Such a young person is described as “simple” or “naive” because he is open to all kinds of enticements. The parental instruction of Proverbs is meant to help a young person develop into a wise person; otherwise, a life of foolishness will ensue.
Wisdom in the New Testament builds on the idea of wisdom in the Old Testament. The wisdom (Greek sophia) of Solomon is mentioned twice (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31), which reminds the reader of the great wisdom Solomon had (1 Kings 3:16–28) and his role in the promotion of wisdom (4:29–34), including the collection of wisdom materials for the book of Proverbs (Prov. 1:1; 10:1; 25:1). Jesus is recognized as a wise person in the early development of His human life. Luke 2:40 states: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” This verse reflects the exhortation in Proverbs 3:4 that if the son lives according to God’s wisdom expressed in the parent’s teaching, “[he] will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” Jesus’ teaching is also associated with wisdom by the people of His hometown who wondered where He got all this wisdom (Matt. 13:54; Mark 6:2). Some also recognized that He did not teach like the scribes and Pharisees but that He taught with authority (Matt. 7:28–29). Other teachers based their authority on quoting Jewish rabbis, but Jesus spoke from His own authority.
It is not a surprise that people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching because not only is Jesus associated with wisdom, but He is identified with wisdom. The wisdom of Solomon would have encompassed all that the Old Testament says about wisdom, but Jesus is greater than Solomon (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31). What Jesus came to accomplish will be greater than what Solomon accomplished at the height of his reign. Jesus has more wisdom than Solomon because He is wisdom. The Apostle Paul can write that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) because Christ is God (v. 9) and has an exalted position within God’s purposes of redemption (1:15–20). In Revelation 7:12, God is worshiped with these words: “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might.” In Revelation 5:12, Christ is worshiped with similar words: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Christ not only has the wisdom of God, but He is the wisdom of God.