Allow me to offer a simple definition of wisdom. Wisdom is looking at life from God’s point of view. When we employ wisdom we are viewing life as God sees it. That’s why it’s so valuable to think God’s thoughts. You look at difficulties and tests as God looks at them. You look at family life and child rearing as God looks at them. You interpret current events as God would interpret them. You focus on the long view. You see the truth even though all around you are deception and lies.
Let’s go a step further and define another scriptural term: understanding. What does it mean? Understanding is responding to life’s struggles and challenges as God would have us respond. Not in panic and confusion. Not by forfeiting those things that are valuable to us, and not by compromising our integrity. Instead, when we have understanding, we respond to life’s challenges as God would have us respond. We trust Him. We believe in Him. We refuse to be afraid. We don’t operate our lives according to human impulses or in step with today’s politically correct culture.
How terribly important it is that we stand firm in wisdom, responding in understanding. Neither can be found by our own effort or as a result of our searching. God graciously provides both. Verse 20 asks two great questions:
Where then does wisdom come from?
And where is the hiding place of understanding?
Not, where can we get advice? Not, where does opinion come from? I could name a dozen sources, but most of them aren’t worth listening to. Then where does this wisdom come from? Where can we find true understanding?
You can earn four Ph.D. degrees and never gain wisdom or understanding. You’ll certainly not get a grasp of the fear of the Lord from higher learning. Even in the finest of universities, there’s no course offered on the fear of the Lord. The source? God and God alone. By “fear of the Lord” I’m referring to an awesome respect for God accompanied by a personal hatred for sin. Now we can see why Solomon wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).