Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge
Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge ~
Three Key Words That Go Together
By Rodney W. Francis
Throughout the Scriptures we find that there are three key words that are often linked together. Those words are wisdom, understanding and knowledge. They are necessary words for us to understand if we are going to faithfully serve the Lord here on earth. The following is written to help us to understand more clearly these words and what they can do for us when they are operating in our lives. Please note that there is a natural wisdom, understanding and knowledge, and there is a spiritual wisdom, understanding and knowledge. This message is focusing on the spiritual application of the words, for it is the spiritual aspect of these words that will make all the difference in our lives.
God spoke these words concerning Bezalel: “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom(Hebrew word is “chokmah”), in understanding (“tebunah”), in knowledge (“daath”), and in all manner of workmanship . . .”
The word “wisdom” is translated from the Hebrew word “chokmah,” meaning “wisdom, skill” (Young’s Analytical Concordance); “wisdom (in a good sense):- skilful, wisdom, wisely, wit” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance); “to be or become wise. The word denotes the acquisition of the habit of wisdom . . . by experience . . . the receiving of instruction, and the exercising of correct judgment; wise-hearted” (Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies).
“Wisdom” is also given as meaning “to discern, to perceive; to discern mentally, to understand; to have understanding, to be intelligent, wise; discreet” (Wilson’s). “1. the ability or result of an ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. 2. accumulated knowledge, erudition, or enlightenment 4. soundness of mind” (Collins Dictionary). (“erudition” is “showing extensive scholarship learning” – Collins).
The word “understanding” is translated from the Hebrew word “tebunah,” meaning “to separate, to distinguish; hence, to discern, to mark, to understand, all which depend on the power of separating, distinguishing, discriminating; specially, to discern, perceive; to discern mentally, to understand; insight, understanding” (Wilson’s); “discretion, reason, skilfulness, understanding, wisdom” (Strong’s).
The word “knowledge” is translated from the Hebrew word “daath,” meaning “cunning knowledge” (Strong’s); “to perceive, to be sensible of, by sight, by touch, but chiefly in the mind; hence, to understand, observe; to consider; to mark and observe with a purpose . . .” (Wilson’s).
With each of these three words there is a “cross-over” of meanings; they tend to blend into one another. They all have to do with perceiving and discerning in order to act wisely, with understanding and in genuine knowledge that glorifies God. It is about learning to know what to do with what we know through wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
In Deuteronomy 4:1-6 the Israelites were instructed to “listen to the statutes and the judgments of the Lord,” because they were the keys or secrets to their gaining wisdom, understanding and knowledge: “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Those statutes and judgments were to be observed or kept (“shamar” = “to keep, to watch, to guard; to keep safe, to protect, to preserve; to retain, to reserve; to observe; to regard; keep diligently” – Wilson’s).
In Deuteronomy 34:9 we read of Joshua receiving an impartation of wisdom when Moses laid his hands on him: “Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom (“chokmah”), for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.” This teaches us that some wisdom for leadership responsibilities can be imparted. The people recognized the significance of what Moses did, for they then transferred their allegiance to Joshua’s leadership as a result of that impartation of wisdom from the hands of Moses!
Solomon prayed for wisdom and knowledge (1 Kings 3:5-15; 2 Chronicles 1:7-12). God was pleased with his request and granted it. Immediately Solomon became known for the wisdom he spoke concerning two women and a dead baby. The people saw the wisdom (“chokmah”) of God was in him to administer justice (1 Kings 3:16-28).
In 1 Kings 4:29-34 we read where “God gave Solomon wisdom (“chokmah”) and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled (“rab” = “abounded, multiplied in quantity” – Strong’s) the wisdom of all the men of the East, and all the wisdom of Egypt . . . And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.”
“So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He had promised him . . .” (1 Kings 5:12). What amazing wisdom God gave to Solomon! The fact that God gave Solomon that tremendous wisdom that far exceeded any others of his day, it did not mean that it was an “automatic” supply for him from thereon until the end of his life. For if we read on (1 Kings 11), we do see that Solomon in later life made some very unwise decisions that were to cost him dearly. He allowed himself to become entangled with ~ and then he married ~ some wrong women who turned his heart and principles away from that which God had given him.
HURAM “was filled with wisdom (“chokmah”) and understanding (“tebunah”) and skill (“daath” = “cunning knowledge”) in working with all kinds of bronze work. So he came to King Solomon and did all his work” (1 Kings 7:13-14). These three key words made Huram a very gifted person with his natural hands.
THE QUEEN OF SHEBA observed Solomon’s wisdom and what it produced ~ houses, food on the table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers, Solomon’s entryway, the happiness of the people. She acknowledged that his wisdom enabled him to do justice and righteousness (1 Kings 10:4-9; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12).
The Psalmist declared: “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom” (“chokmah”) (Psalm 37:30). “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply (“bo” = “to cause to come in” – Young’s; “1. to put to practical use; utilize; employ. 2. to be relevant, useful, or appropriate. 5. to devote oneself, or one’s efforts, with diligence. 6. to bring into operation or use” – Collins) our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111;10; see also Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 15:33).
THE BOOK OF PROVERBS:
The Book of Proverbs has much to say on wisdom, understanding and knowledge. The opening verses of the book reveal to us the message it is conveying:
“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive (“to understand, to know, be acquainted with, to discern, to see, to find, discover, to observe thoroughly with the mind”) the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence (“ormah” = “craftiness, subtilty” – Young’s; “discretion, prudence, wisdom” – Strong’s) to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion – a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1-7). Please try and make some time to work your way through this amazing book. Observe these Chapters and Verses: Proverbs 2:1-11; 3:13-23; 4:1-13; 5:1-2; 7:1-5; 8:1,5, 8-14; 9:8-12; 10:13-14, 23; 14:6-8, 33; 16:16; 17:24; 23:23; and 24:3-6.
THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM, UNDERSTANDING AND KNOWLEDGE RESTED ON JESUS ~ see Isaiah 11:1-2.
We are to glory in the fact of understanding and knowing that GOD IS THE LORD! ~ Jeremiah 9:23-24.
DANIEL AND HIS ASSOCIATES were “gifted in all wisdom (“chokmah”), possessing knowledge and quick to understand . . .” (Daniel 1:4, 17-20; see also Daniel 5:11-14). God gives “wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things . . .” (Daniel 2:21-22).
THE APOSTLE PAUL’S PRAYER FOR THE CHRISTIANS:
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom(“sophia”) and revelation (“apokalupsis” = “unveiling, uncovering”) in the knowledge (“epignosis” = “full knowledge” – Young’s; “clear and exact knowledge; it expresses a more thorough participation on the part of the knower, with the object of knowledge; a knowledge that has a powerful influence on the knower” – Bullinger’s) of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power . . .” (Ephesians 1:15-23).
The Greek word used for wisdom here is “sophia” meaning “cleverness, skill; a right application of knowledge” (Bullinger’s); the ability or result of an ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight” (Collins).
The Gift of the Word of Wisdom in 1 Corinthians 12:8 is also translated from “sophia.”
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled (“pleroo” = “literally to cram, accomplish, complete, fill up, fulfil” – Strong’s; “to fill, make full, to be complete” – Bullinger’s) with the knowledge (“epignosis”) of His will in all wisdom (“sophia”) and spiritual (“pneumatikos” = “belonging to the Spirit; determined, influenced and proceeding from the Spirit” – Bullinger’s) understanding (“sunesis” = “intelligence, insight into anything, understanding, cleverness as shown in quickness of apprehension; acuteness . . . wisdom of productive thought” – Bullinger’s); that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing(“auxano” = “to increase, grow” – Young’s; “grow up” – Bullinger’s) in the knowledge (“epignosis”) of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy” (Colossians 1:9-11).
“ . . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding (“sunesis”), to the knowledge of the mystery (“musterion” = “that which is known only to the initiated” – Young’s) of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures (“thesauros” = “anything laid up in store; hence, treasure, wealth” – Bullinger’s) of wisdom and knowledge (“gnosis” = “knowing, or recognition, the knowledge or understanding of a thing, the insight which manifests itself in the thorough understanding of the subjects with which it meets and in the conduct determined thereby” – Bullinger’s)” (Colossians 2:2-3).
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). We are to ask in faith!
THERE IS A CLEAR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL WISDOM:
“Who is a wise (“sophos” = “skill” – Young’s) man and endued with knowledge (“epistemon” = “understanding, intelligent” – Young’s; “to fix one’s mind upon, i.e. to understand, to know how to do anything, to know well, to have knowledge” – Bullinger’s) among you? (KJV) Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom (“sophia”). But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure (“hagnos” = “clean, chaste, pure” – Strong’s; “not contaminated, pure from every defilement” – Bullinger’s), then peaceable (“eirenikos” = “relating to peace, peaceful, disposed to peace; healthful, wholesome” – Bullinger’s), gentle (“epieikes” = “appropriate, mild, moderate, patient” – Strong’s), willing to yield (“easy to be intreated” – KJV; “eupeithes” = “easily persuaded” – Young’s), full of mercy (“eleos” = “active compassion” – Bullinger’s), and good fruits (“karpos” = “fruit”), without partiality (“adiakritos” = “not judging diversely, impartial” – Young’s) and without hypocrisy (“anupokritos” = “the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc., contrary to one’s real character or behaviour, especially the pretence of virtue or piety” – Collins)” (James 3:13-18).
Notice in these verses from James 3 that wisdom has character and graces. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
What a challenge these three words present to us ~ wisdom, understanding and knowledge! May we be found seeking to know and walk in the true meaning of these words, so others will see and know the handiwork of God in our lives! May we be a perceptive and discerning people in these times when many are losing their way in God. Let the truth of God’s Word fill you with faith, courage and revelation as you seek to know the outworking of these words more and more in your life. God bless you.