When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you,To deliver you from the way of evil (Proverbs 2:10-12)
I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t heard of King Solomon. If we were to ask who he was, the answer would invariably be ‘the wisest man in the world.’ Yet few people even know, let alone mention, that in his later years he was seduced into idolatry by his numerous wives and concubines – the anointed heir of David’s throne, who was granted the gift of wisdom beyond reckoning, fell into foolishness and ultimately apostacy. What a tragic irony, but there is a lesson worth learning in his story.
A quick look at Adam and Eve will add important perspective. Their sin was eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The key word here is knowledge. The danger inherent in this tree – and, I believe, the reason why they were forbidden to eat from it – was that it was knowledge, and knowledge without wisdom is both worthless and dangerous. In other words, in forbidding them to touch this particular fruit, God was in fact protecting them.
The effect of their sin was that, from that moment on, man operated from a fleshly perspective – the realm of the mind and the emotions – rather than the spiritual perspective, which was the basis for their fellowship and communion with God. It was knowledge without the wisdom to use it that effected the separation that sin created, and man has pursued this weakness ever since. Think of the Tower of Babel – man’s intellectual pride in his achievements inspired him to create a building to reach to the heavens, and ultimately resulted in the separation of man into different tribes and nations.
Wisdom and knowledge are often used as synonyms, the inference being that if one has sufficient knowledge, then one will automatically be wise. A look at history is sufficient evidence to prove that the exact opposite is usually true. The fact is that knowledge usually brings pride, whereas wisdom usually brings humility. They are actually poles apart. To understand this, let’s look at Adam and Eve’s sin once again. It was, in essence, rebellion, and rebellion is essentially disregarding the commands, the will and the sovereignty of God. At it’s most fundamental level, rebellion is placing our will above God’s will.
At this point, let’s ask ourselves where the will resides. It’s in the mind. So rebellion, therefore, starts in the mind, the home of the will. Wisdom, on the other hand, is often defined as understanding and is often equated with a righteous fear of the Lord. It cannot exist in the same place as rebellion, as the two are in opposition. Pride and humility cannot inhabit the ‘same space.’
God makes regular mention about the heart being the real source of life and understanding. Wisdom has nothing at all to do with intellectual processes, logic or reasoning. That is why we’re told to keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are all the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). Today’s verse tells us clearly that it’s when wisdom is found in our hearts that we will have the discretion and understanding that will keep us from all evil.
How often have we found ourselves in a situation where we’re struggling, and a scripture we have memorised will pop into our heads and ‘save the day?’ It’s because we’ve ‘learned it by heart.’ This tells us that it’s not sufficient to have the Word of God in our heads. Even non-believers can learn Scripture by rote. It’s because it’s moved from being simply a ‘head knowledge’ to being a ‘heart knowledge.’ The Holy Spirit will aid us by bringing out what is in the heart, by bringing it to mind or conscious thought so that we can then use it.
This may sound contradictory, but consider the issue of faith for a moment. Faith is defined as the ‘substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.’ This is definitely not a head issue. Faith is a heart issue. Faith is the thing that remains unshaken when the head is telling us otherwise. Remember, too, that emotions are not at all connected to the heart. Emotion is the third triplet to will and intellect. The heart is God’s concern. The others live outside in the domain of the flesh.
Consider this: When faced with a difficult decision, three things happen in the head. First, the emotions come into play, stirring things up and muddying the water with all kinds of distracting feelings. Second, intellect jumps in. Now the problem with intellect, is that it has a nasty habit of rushing off at all different tangents, just when we think we have it all nicely reasoned out. At lunch time, we’ve thought it through, got it nicely packaged, and we’re comfortable with the conclusion. By that night, intellect has raised up ten opposing thoughts and we muddle through these, only to find that the morning brings five new questions, three new possibilities, and a host of other factors. In three days, the head can change its mind twenty times and still be no closer to resolution. Eventually, will – aided and abetted by emotion – steps up and makes a decision, which the head will no doubt second-guess…
The truth is that when we listen to our hearts and not our heads, wisdom has the final say, and wisdom is Word based and Spirit led. Listening to our hearts is actually listening to God, because wisdom lives in the heart not the head. Wisdom is the gift of God, manifested through the Word we have stored in our hearts. True wisdom can only come from God, and will never be found where our will, intellect and emotion reign supreme. These things distract us. True wisdom teaches and guides us, because it is the voice of God Himself in our hearts.
Write Your Word upon our hearts, Lord, and help us to remain teachable. Thank You for providing a perfect plan to resist the confusion that results from relying on our intellect, our emotions and our will. Help us to rely on Your Spirit and your Word within is, the very source of our faith, through Your infinite grace.