Wisdom is...

***O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29). ***

But what is wisdom?
What does it look like? What all is involved?
Knowledge and correct application of that knowledge to practical situations. Instinct? Intuition?

Merriam-Webster starts with:

Knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life

The natural ability to understand things that most other people cannot understand

Knowledge of what is proper or reasonable : good sense or judgment

a: accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge

b: ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight

c: good sense : judgment

Matthew 11:19
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

What are those deeds?

I am hoping to compile some Biblical examples of wisdom. One that comes to mind is:
Jesus and the coin:

Matthew 22:18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

Wisdom is preparing for the future:
Matthew 25:4
The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

Wisodm is hearing the words of the lord and putting them into practice:
Matthew 7:24
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Also discernment:

Isaiah 7:15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right,

Pray for wisdom above everything else.

For in wisdom, you will learn the love of God, who can not be grasped except through love.

Nice topic Michael! :thumbsup:


The Book of Proverbs tells much of wisdom, and I find it interesting that wisdom is often equated with the feminine (which could explain why I’m just a wise-guy, but not very wise!). The Camaldolese monk Bruno Barnhart has written extensively on wisdom, you may already know, although I haven’t yet got around to reading him yet.

“Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven pillars”

“For wisdom is better than jewels, and all you may desire cannot compare with her.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”

You’ve prompted me to read the Book of Proverbs now. Thanks.

Yes, Bruno. Thanks for reminding me. “During the last few years I have been tracking an
elusive beast: the Wisdom of the West.”

A lot of his stuff can be found here:

The Golden String
Winter 2010-2011

Has an article on page 5

Wisdom Christianity

I am sure I have read it a long time ago.

Thanks for the link!

Here is what the Orthodox Study Bible has to say about the Book of Proverbs, and wisdom:

“The Book of Proverbs was written that one might know Christ, the Wisdom of God. As St. Paul pointed out, Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Co 1:24)… Wisdom instructs those who know Him. The word instruction incorporates several different aspects: teaching, correction, discipline, reproof, learning, education, and training.”

And here is part of a word study on wisdom from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, based on 1 Corinthians 1:24:

“Wisdom is also personified in the OT as a craftsman of creation (Prov. 8; Wis. 7:22), and the one who directs human history (Wis. 9-11). Wisdom in this sense had its beginning in eternity (Sir. 24:9), and is closely associated with the Word of God (Wis. 9:1; Sir. 24:3) as well as the work of the Holy Spirit (Wis. 9:17)… For the apostle Paul, Jesus Christ is the divine wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24), that is given to believers through the inpouring of the Spirit (1 Cor. 1:30, 2:7-13; Eph. 1:17; Col. 2:3). As such, it cannot be equated with the ingenuity of philosophers and thinkers.”

It is all embracing, more than just knowledge but knowledge of many things integrated and prudent application of that knowledge. Knowledge learned naturally and received intuitively through grace.

Where does one begin?

From the Bishops website

1:7Fear of the LORD* is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline.

10:27Fear of the LORD prolongs life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.

  • [1:7] Fear of the LORD: primarily a disposition rather than the emotion of fear; reverential awe and respect toward God combined with obedience to God’s will.

A few more thoughts and questions.

We are taught that Jesus Christ is wisdom personified, and that wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Peter Kreeft, in Summa of the Summa, writes: “wisdom in God is infinite and one with God’s essence, because it is proportionate to God’s being, which is infinite and one with His essence; while wisdom in man is finite and distinct from his essence because it is proportionate to man’s being, which is finite and composed of essence plus existence.”

My common understanding is that wisdom is a kind of knowledge which positively affects judgment. Wisdom enables one to determine the best course of action or decision, usually based on experience - hence the adage “with age comes wisdom.” This experience can be personal, or passed on from person to person: parent to child, master to apprentice, teacher to student, God to man. Is wisdom, then, only a concept or thing which exists in the mind? Limited in our minds, but infinite in the mind of God? More practically, what happens when a wise person suffers an incapacitation of the brain, like a stroke or disease? Does wisdom remain bottled up in the injured brain? But wisdom is more than mere information, like digital bits and bytes in a computer. It is knowing what to do (or not to do) with information, in any number of variable circumstances, that will invariably produce the best outcome.

What about infused wisdom? St. Thomas Aquinas considers the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be infused rather than acquired, since Isaiah spoke of seven “spirits” rather than gifts. Isaiah 11:2: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, and the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Aquinas considers wisdom to be the greatest of the intellectual virtues, as charity is the greatest of the theological virtues. It is apparent to me that God bestows infused wisdom more to some than to others, or makes some more receptive than others. Why? We have to trust, I suppose, that God will provide for each as is needed.

Knowledge cannot guarantee right action. Adam had knowledge but no wisdom IMO. But “right action” does exist; we must learn what is of most value and what is not. And this begins with humility before God, valuing Him first above all else.

Providentially, here a link which showed up today:


with a lovely chant to listen to and an icon to see while pondering wisdom

“O Wisdom that comest from from the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to the other, mightly and sweetly ordering all things, come and teach us the way of prudence.”

We must ask for wisdom.

Now its not there. Try this:


Wisdom is from God. :slight_smile:
Wisdom is knowing what to think, say, choose, and act at each moment.

Concise, and beautiful!

I had to laugh at myself. Thinking of wisdom, I went to my bookcase. It is apparent to me that I have been seeking wisdom for some time now, based on the following titles I observed:

In Search of True Wisdom, Flames of Wisdom, Monastic Wisdom, Essential Monastic Wisdom, Papal Wisdom, Growing in Love and Wisdom, Wisdom From the Monastery, Wisdom of the Benedictine Elders, The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers, Eternal Wisdom From the Desert.

All that reading, and not much the wiser!

But you summed it up well :slight_smile:

I have been practicing asking God’s guidance and opinion for many things in my daily life and I find it makes a real difference. :slight_smile:

Perhaps it has to do with our “fear of the Lord” which is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7)

Here is a pretty good reflection on “fear” (Yira) and how there are different levels.
The highest is a profound reverence and awe.


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