In today’s postmodern culture, it would seem that “wisdom” is not absolute,but is only determined in relevance to personal circumstances, however one decides to define it. But, the writings of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, tell us that we should “get wisdom” though it costs us everything we have.
Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have,get understanding. -Proverbs 4:5-7
How do we know when we’re “getting” it, though? Is the goal of wisdom to make our life happier? Safer? Easier? More confident? Right with God?
I think Solomon must have found wisdom to be something very definitely absolute. The argument is that something that is “relative” is not lasting, and not valuable — Why would we want to surrender everything else to get it, in that case? Not only is it absolute, it is something found OUTSIDE of ourselves. No matter how deeply we search the depths of our inner being, we will not learn wisdom there. We are too selfish, too self-absorbed, and, surely, way too proud. It’s not the same as intelligence. I’ve seen an awful lot of smart people who are not wise. Those smart people may be happy, safe, confident… but, you can tell there’s something missing. A depth, a meaning, a purpose.
Solomon has said, “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul: he who cherishes understanding prospers.” (Prov. 19:8) I think this refers to prospering in depth of character, not depth of pocketbook or social status. “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.” (Prov. 13:14) Solomon admonishes us to walk with the wise, turn our ear to the wise, pay attention, actively seek.
That is how we “get” wise. Wisdom is priceless, it protects us, guides us, adorns us, and deepens us. Though it costs us everything, we must strive for it – one of those counterintuitive concepts of obeying God… you must lose your life to find it.