What is wisdom? If you want a simple answer, wisdom is the knowledge about God. The Scripture says that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight’ (Prov. 9:10). Wisdom is such a sublime and desirable virtue that a whole book of the Bible is dedicated to wisdom. Apart from that there are innumerable references to wisdom and people who possess it, in other books too.
‘Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky’ (Dan 12:3).’Those who are wise shall understand’ (Dan 12:10). ‘The wise among the people shall give understanding to many’ (Dan 11:33). ‘Some of the wise shall fall’ (Dan 11:35)
A resonance of what we read in the Book of Daniel can be seen in the Book of Revelation also. It is not surprising because the context of both of them is the same viz. the end times. ‘This calls for wisdom’ (Rev 13:18). ‘This calls for a mind that has wisdom’ (Rev 17:9).
If we often fail to understand the true meaning of things happening around us these days, the sole reason is that we lack the wisdom to understand them. This is a perilous time when going forward becomes impossible without the wisdom that comes from ‘on high’. Unlike the past, these days call for a mind with wisdom so that we are able to discern each and every incident lest we will fall from error to greater errors.
What should we do to get wisdom? The first step in our journey towards wisdom is to cleanse ourselves of deceit and sin. ‘Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, or dwell in a body enslaved to sin’ (Wis 1:4). Next step is to come closer to the Word of God; ‘Therefore set your desire on my words; long for them, and you will be instructed’ (Wis 6:11). It is equally important to love wisdom because ‘she is easily discerned by those who love her and is found by those who seek her’ (Wis 6:12).
If you are worthy to receive wisdom, you need not go after her. She will come to you, says the Scripture. ‘She goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought’ (Wis 6:16). See how magnanimous wisdom is!
But there is one thing that prevents you from attaining wisdom. It is envy, the diabolic vice through which ‘death entered the world’ (Wis 2:24). Wisdom has nothing to do with envy. ‘ ….Nor will I travel in the company of sickly envy, for envy does not associate with wisdom’ (Wis 6:23).
Wisdom means friendship with God. ‘Those who get it obtain friendship with God’ (Wis 7:14). Just look at the way the Scripture describes wisdom. ‘ For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness’ (Wis 7: 25-26).
We should long for this wisdom which is ‘more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars and is superior to light’ (Wis 7:29). If we are really interested in knowing ‘the things of the old, and infers the things to come’ (Wis 8:8) we need the help of wisdom. ‘To understand the turns of speech and the solutions to riddles’ (Wis 8:8) wisdom will help us. We can go to her to get ‘foreknowledge of signs and wonders and to know the outcome of seasons and times’((Wis 8:8).
Wisdom comes as a gift from God, not as the result of our efforts. ‘But I perceived that I would not possess wisdom unless God gave her to me’ (Wis 8:21). Its resonance can be seen in the words of St Paul when he says that it is not our power or effort but the grace of God that brings results for us. We are called to live according to the will of God and wisdom is indispensable to know it. ‘Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high?’ (Wis 9:17).
John the Apostle also says that it is God the Father who should give us wisdom or the knowledge about God. ‘No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me’ (Jn 6:44). In the Book of Sirach, we read that ‘to fear the Lord is the beginning (Sir 1:14), fullness (Sir 1:14), and crown of wisdom (Sir 1:18). Precisely for this reason God has predestined a place for wisdom to dwell. ’He said, ‘Make your dwelling in Jacob, and in Israel receive your inheritance’ (Sir 24:8). Yes, wisdom is the inheritance of the people of God. Those who seek her with a pure heart will surely get her.
Before concluding, let us have a quick look at the book of Baruch where we read about certain people who are not blessed with wisdom. ‘She (Wisdom) has not been heard of in Canaan, or seen in Teman; the descendants of Hagar, who seek for understanding on the earth, the merchants of Merran and Teman, the story-tellers and the seekers for understanding, have not learned the way to wisdom, or given thought to her paths’ (Bar 3: 22-23). Is it then a surprise that the descendants of Hagar who are not given wisdom, hate without reason, the descendants of Sara, who as the chosen people of God inherited wisdom.
We have only one thing to do; pray to God for filling us with wisdom. Let us pray: O Lord, you are the fount of wisdom. May your wisdom instruct us. ‘Send her forth from the holy heavens, and from the throne of your glory send her, that she may labor at our side, and that we may learn what is pleasing to you’ (Wis 9:10). Amen.