Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding – Proverbs 4:1-7 KJV
In my initial study of proverbs, I gave a definition of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and I said that all were completely different – this wasn’t entirely correct – I was wrong. Verses 5-7 give more insight into what all three words mean and so I made some additions to the definitions back in Proverbs Chapter 1.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom:
and with all thy getting get understanding (vs 7 KJV)
The proverb says to get wisdom, but to get an understanding of that wisdom. Understanding is the ability to perceive and discern a situation in order to apply wisdom (knowledge which is true and moral). Example: First, I have to perceive what flattery and smooth talk is – two things often used by adulterous women (Proverbs 2:16). Then, using understanding, I can avoid or depart from such women who would surely lead me to commit adultery and fornication.
Verse 7 says to me, “A person can have wisdom, but have no understanding. So, get understanding (perception and good sense).” Naturally, if you have wisdom, you should be applying it, but if you don’t have an understanding of your situation and surroundings, how can you apply it? These scriptures lean to the fact that wisdom and understanding go hand and hand. It also makes wisdom look incomplete without it.
So I would say: wisdom without understanding is only half-wisdom. Full wisdom includes understanding. So another definition of wisdom could be: knowledge and understanding combined. Let’s pray for understanding to apply the knowledge God has given us, in this, we’ll have full wisdom. As learned in Proverbs 2, wisdom and understanding comes from God.
I asked myself the question: why would God give wisdom and wait to give understanding? Sometimes we’re just not ready to handle it, sometimes we aren’t prepared to use it, and sometimes we’re not mature enough. Whenever the Lord chooses to give us an understanding is the best time. We must wait and be patient.
A parent repeats himself
We learn by repetition. The book of proverbs was written for everyone’s benefit but originally to Solomon’s children. Just as a parent, Solomon continued to repeat what is very important about wisdom (vs 8-13 CEV):
- If you value Wisdom and hold tightly to her, great honors will be yours.
- It will be like wearing a glorious crown of beautiful flowers.
- My child, if you listen and obey my teachings, you will live a long time.
- I have shown you the way that makes sense; I have guided you along the right path.
- Your road won’t be blocked, and you won’t stumble when you run.
- Hold firmly to my teaching and never let go. It will mean life for you.
I hope we take all this in and apply it.