Covenant Reformed News
May 2018 • Volume XVII, Issue 1
God’s Wisdom (1)
The pagan nations around Israel claimed to be wise. We read of “the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22) and “the wise men” of Babylon in the book of Daniel (e.g., 2:12-14, 18, 24, 27, 48). Even the Edomites had their own wisdom traditions (Jer. 49:7; Obad. 8). The Greeks especially had their philosophy, literally, their love of wisdom (cf. Acts 17:18-31; I Cor. 1:17-31).
But God revealed His true and saving wisdom to the nation of Israel. One section of our Bibles is even referred to as the wisdom literature, from Job to Ecclesiastes. The very subject of Proverbs is wisdom. This is a massive theme also in Ecclesiastes, another book written by Solomon. Job is filled with references to wisdom (e.g., Job 28). The Psalms refer frequently to wisdom and some are even referred to as wisdom Psalms (e.g., Ps. 37; 49; 73).
Among the Old Testament historical books, wisdom looms largest in I Kings and II Chronicles, because they speak at length of Solomon, the wisest man in all the earth (I Kings 4:29-34). Of the sixteen Old Testament writing prophets, Daniel stands out for his wisdom (Dan. 1:20; 2:20-23; 5:11-12; Eze. 28:3). In the New Testament, especially I Corinthians deals with wisdom for, in this inspired epistle, God’s wisdom in Jesus Christ is set forth to a congregation adversely influenced by pagan Greek ideas of wisdom.
Besides Solomon and Daniel, there are many other saints in Scripture who exemplify wisdom, such as Joseph, who became the prime minister of Egypt (Gen. 41:33, 39); Moses, who “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” and to whom God “gave” “wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh” (Acts 7:22, 10); Bezaleel, Aholiab and other wise men and women who made the tabernacle (Ex. 31:2-6; 35:30-36:4); Joshua, who led Israel into the promised land (Deut. 34:9); Stephen the apologist, for the Jews “were not able to resist the wisdom … by which he spake” (Acts 6:10; cf. v. 3); and Paul, who was “a wise masterbuilder” (I Cor. 3:10).
Wisdom, however, is supremely and infinitely a perfection of God, and so it frequently occurs in doxologies. Glorious creatures in heaven ascribe it to God and the Lamb (Rev. 5:12; 7:12). Repeatedly, Jehovah is praised as the “only wise” God (Rom. 16:27; I Tim. 1:17; Jude 25).
So in the next few issues of the Covenant Reformed News, let us learn of God’s wisdom and grow in it ourselves by His grace. “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it” (Prov. 8:11)!
In grasping the basic idea of wisdom—especially, the wisdom of God—two points are especially helpful.
First, wisdom involves means and ends. Ends are goals or purposes. Means are the ways to reach these ends or goals or purposes. Wisdom chooses worthy ends and appropriate or fitting means to attain these ends. We see this in the absolutely perfect God in Romans 11, which speaks of “the depth of the riches” of God’s “wisdom” (33), “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things” (36).
Since “all things” are “to him” (36), Jehovah is the highest goal or end or purpose of everything. Since “all things” are “of him” as to their source in God’s decree, and “through him” in God’s creation and providence (36), the Most High uses everything as the means to achieve the goal of His glory! This is His deep and rich “wisdom” (33)!
A second helpful idea in understanding wisdom is that of adaptation. This concept is closely related to that of means and ends. God righteously adapts all things as means to obtain His holy end: His own glory and its manifestation.
God’s wisdom is seen in His Persons. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity is perfectly adapted to the First Person. He is the “only begotten Son” who fits beautifully in His Father’s “bosom” (John 1:18). He is the “express image” of His Father (Heb. 1:3). He is the radiant effulgence of His Father’s glory (Heb. 1:3). He is the wonderfully self-expressing Word of His Father (John 1:14). Thus the eternal Son speaks of His infinitely joyous relationship with His Father, “I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him” (Prov. 8:30). What a blessed adaptation!
Likewise, the Third Person of the Trinity is perfectly adapted to the First and Second Persons. The Holy Spirit is the personal breath of love that proceeds between the Father and the Son. The divine Spirit is the personal bond of love uniting the First and Second Persons. See how He is eternally and beautifully adapted for His role in the Godhead!
God’s wisdom is not only seen in His Three Persons but it is also evident in connection with His other divine perfections. We see this, for example, when we consider two attributes of God mentioned at the end of Romans 11.
First, Jehovah’s wisdom is an infinite wisdom: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” (33-34). God’s wisdom is perfectly adapted to who He is as the unsearchable and incomprehensible One.
Second, Jehovah’s wisdom is a self-sufficient wisdom: “who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?” (34-35). God’s wisdom is entirely like Himself, needing no advice, counsel or help. “For,” as the apostle goes on to say, “of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (36)! Rev. Stewart