The Hebrew Word for Wisdom
The Hebrew word for wisdom is chokhma, and the Bible tells us to acquire it at every cost:
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)
What exactly is wisdom? The Merriam Webster dictionary describes it as follows: “Wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships”. That’s an interesting way to put it, don’t you think?
The difference between wisdom and knowledge is that knowledge is to have an understanding of something. Meanwhile, wisdom is putting knowledge into action.
But why is it so important to pursue wisdom at all cost?
Let’s take a deeper look at the life of two persons in the Bible often associated with wisdom – King Solomon, and more importantly Jesus the Messiah. Hopefully, their examples will help us discover more about the valuable treasure of wisdom.
Wisdom and Proverbs in the Bible
As previously mentioned, the Hebrew word for wisdom is chokhma. It appears over 200 times in the Old Testament. Of that, over 50 times just in the Book of Proverbs alone! No wonder in some languages the book is called “Wisdom of Solomon”.
Interestingly enough, the Book of Proverbs starts off with explaining its purpose in verse one:
“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight” (Proverbs 1:1)
Simply put, Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs to help us grow in wisdom. (Other writers also contributed to the book, but the King of Israel was the author of most chapters.)
In the first chapter, verses 1-7, Solomon made a list of several other purposes of why he wrote this book. Some of these purposes are prudent behavior, doing what is right, giving knowledge and discretion to the young, receiving guidance, and fearing the Lord.
All of the above lead to a life of wisdom.
The Wisest Man of His Time
Solomon was a man who lived a life of wisdom by putting all of the knowledge he gained into action. After Solomon had made a large burnt offering to the Lord, God came to him in a dream and asked him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:4-5).
Solomon could have asked God for anything, for money or fame… But he wisely asked God for more wisdom and a discerning heart.
God was pleased with Solomon’s answer. Just the fact that God was pleased with Solomon and the way He responded, shows us just how important it is to walk in wisdom in our relationship with Him. When we walk in wisdom, we please the heart of our Heavenly Father.
As the interaction between God and Solomon continued, we see that God gave Solomon exactly what He asked for – a wise and discerning heart. But God didn’t stop there. He also gave Solomon wealth, honor, and long life.
What does the Bible Say about Wisdom?
The Hebrew and Biblical understanding of wisdom shows how powerful it can be in our lives. In fact, the Word of God states that wisdom of God protects us and guards us from evil and sin:
“For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse” (Proverbs 2:10-12)
These verses, and many others throughout the Book of Proverbs, show us that wisdom not only protects us, but it saves us and guards us from wickedness, seduction, and deception. To add to that, without wisdom we can easily fall into sin.
But wisdom aligns our hearts with God’s heart and directs us in the path of righteousness. Furthermore, the wisdom of God brings an abundance of blessings into our lives.
“Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 15:33)
The Blessings Hidden in the Wisdom of God
Just in the passage below, we can read all of the incredible benefits that come with wisdom:
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.” (Proverbs 3:13-18)
Wisdom brings great fruit, lasting treasures, long life, riches, honor, peace, life, and blessing. Wow! These verses should be motivation enough to seek out the wisdom of God!
The Hebrew Bible on the Source of Wisdom
Even though wisdom costs all we have, the benefits far outweigh the cost. That is because wisdom helps us know God and fear Him above all else.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
So, knowledge is understanding who God is, but wisdom is putting our fear and trust in God. Knowledge is to have an understanding of the Word of God. And wisdom is to walk in those truths each day.
The wisest decision we could make on this earth is to fear, respect, honor, and revere the King above all kings! And the more we press on to know God and His wisdom, the more we can understand His ways and humbly walk hand in hand with Him all the days of our life.
Wisdom as a Person
The personification of divine wisdom in the Hebrew Bible can refer either to the Messiah, to the Holy Spirit, or to the Word of God itself. We can see this throughout chapters 8 and 9 of the book of Proverbs.
And interestingly, we see that God brought forth wisdom in the very beginning of the creation of the world.
“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.” (Proverbs 8:22-23)
So, if wisdom existed in the beginning with God, then wisdom must be extremely important and vital to our relationship with Him.
Who is Wisdom in the Bible?
Let’s take one last look at a passage that shows us WHO is the wisdom of God.
“Where is the wise person, where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-24, emphasis added)
Yes, Jesus the Messiah is the wisdom of God! In Him, we find everything we need to live a life of wisdom on this earth. Jesus’ life on this earth was an example for us of how to live out our faith.
As Jesus grew up, He increased in wisdom. He spoke with wisdom and authority that changed people and left them in awe of God’s power.
The Hebrew Way to Pursue Wisdom
God is the generous keeper of wisdom, and He invites us to ask Him for help! As we turn to God for wisdom, we can confidently know that He will give us the wisdom we need. Asking God for wisdom keeps us in a place of reliance upon Him, trust in Him, and humility before Him.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
When we walk in God’s wisdom, God blesses us and entrusts us with even more than we can ask for or imagine!
And why is wisdom so important? Because the Messiah Himself is the wisdom of God. So, dear reader, when you need wisdom, remember to run to Jesus and you will find the chokhma your heart is longing for, and so much more!
7 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know: Free PDF Download
With the use of the Hebrew language God revealed Himself to mankind. This ancient tongue held the greatest spiritual truths that guided our lives through the ages. And in each generation, they are discovered anew.
We know the Bible can be hard to understand and you want to get more out of it. Which is why we want to teach you seven Hebrew words that will transform the way you read the Bible.
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