God is wise (God is Good 3)

One of the ways in which we see God’s goodness is his wisdom. We have already seen that God knows everything. He is omniscient. He knows the past present and future. But it is one thing to be knowledgeable and another to be wise. As Herman Bavinck says:

“Everyone knows that erudition, knowledge and wisdom are far from being synonymous and are certainly not always found together in the same person. A simple person often excels a learned one in wisdom.”[1]

Bavinck treats the distinction between knowledge as wisdom as being that “Knowledge is theoretical; wisdom is practical and goal-orientated.”[2] So, we all know of people who are very clever, who can remember lots of facts, pass exams and get advanced qualifications, but when it comes to making sensible decisions, they appear clueless.  They don’t know where to start. They don’t know how to apply their learning. On the other hand, there are people we trust and naturally turn to when we want help, advice and direction who have never passed an exam or sat for a formal qualification in their life. So when we talk about wisdom, we are right to connect it with common sense.  Proverbs 8: 14 says:

“Common sense and success belong to me.

Insight and strength are mine.”

However, I want to go a stage further and suggest that wisdom has a moral quality. Wisdom is not just about making sensible practical decisions; it’s about making good, loving decisions. In Proverbs 8, Solomon allows a personified wisdom to speak for herself.  She describes herself as the first of God’s works, “The Lord formed me from the beginning,   before he created anything else.” (Proverbs 8:22).” She was “appointed in ages past, at the very first, before the earth began.” (Proverbs 8:23). This is poetic language but if it talks about something existing from the beginning before anything was created then it pushes us back into eternity.  As wisdom speaks, we are again and again confronted with the strong moral dimension to this attribute:

“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment.” (8:12)

“Common sense and success belong to me.  Insight and strength are mine. 15 Because of me, kings reign and rulers make just decrees.16 Rulers lead with my help and nobles make righteous judgments. (8:14-16)

“I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice.” (8:20).

God is uniquely wise. God is the one who knows everything. He knows our innermost secrets and He uses that knowledge for good. It is because God is infinitely wise that He and He alone can be trusted with infinite knowledge. He will not misuse, manipulate or misrepresent what He knows to cause harm.  He does not need to abuse knowledge to gain an unfair advantage because He is already sovereign and without rival.

This is why when it comes to human wisdom that we are told:

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.   Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” (Proverbs 9:10)

True wisdom starts with God and belongs to Him and Him alone.

I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence. 31 And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!” (Proverbs 8:30b-31).

[1] H Bavinck, The Doctrine of God and Creation, 203.

[2] H Bavinck, The Doctrine of God and Creation, 203.