Knowledge and Wisdom


What is the difference between the two? Is there really a significant difference? Is it better to have knowledge or wisdom? What does the Bible have to say about knowledge and wisdom? First letís see if we can define the two words and discern the differences. Commonly people tend to consider the two as synonymous, or nearly so. Highly educated people are commonly thought to be knowledgeable and wise. Poorly educated people are commonly thought to be ignorant and foolish.


Knowledge is simply what you know. But Wisdom is what you do with what you know or perhaps what you can do with what you donít know. We all understand that some very knowledgeable people do some very unwise things. People often learn a large amount of facts but canít put them together in useful ways. Others may know relatively little but can do amazing things with just a little knowledge.


Wisdom sometimes comes from experience and that leads us to an interesting fact. You can teach knowledge but you canít teach wisdom. Thatís why the ďAĒ student isnít always that good at a job until he gains some experience. The man with wisdom can see the simplicity in the complex and the complexity in the simple. This concept is often referred to as being able to see the unseen. Leonard Read wrote a short story called ďI Pencil.Ē He points out that this ďsimpleĒ tool, that costs only a nickel, is actually not simple at all. In fact, he says, there is nobody on earth with the knowledge to make a pencil. And heís right! (Explain)


We often hear about, ďThe Law of Unintended Consequences.Ē Thatís because for all of our knowledge we donít have the wisdom to grasp that no one person can see the entire picture. No one person can see the entire picture, but God can. So let us learn from God about wisdom. The following nine chapters talk about wisdom but there is much more in the Bible. If you are wise and have wisdom you will read more on your own. Here we go, Proverbs 1:1 through Proverbs 9:18 but I will read only chapter 1 through chapter 4 plus chapter 8. I encourage you to read the chapters I am leaving out.


(Prov 1 NIV)The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: {2} for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; {3} for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; {4} for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young-- {5} let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance-- {6} for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. {7} The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. {8} Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. {9} They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. {10} My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. {11} If they say, "Come along with us; let's lie in wait for someone's blood, let's waylay some harmless soul; {12} let's swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; {13} we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; {14} throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse"-- {15} my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; {16} for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood. {17} How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds! {18} These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! {19} Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it. {20} Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; {21} at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: {22} "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? {23} If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. {24} But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, {25} since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, {26} I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you-- {27} when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. {28} "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. {29} Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, {30} since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, {31} they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. {32} For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; {33} but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm."

(Prov 2 NIV) My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, {2} turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, {3} and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, {4} and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, {5} then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. {6} For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. {7} He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, {8} for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. {9} Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path. {10} For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. {11} Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. {12} Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, {13} who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, {14} who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, {15} whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. {16} It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, {17} who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. {18} For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. {19} None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. {20} Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. {21} For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; {22} but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

(Prov 3 NIV)My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, {2} for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. {3} Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. {4} Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. {5} Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; {6} in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. {7} Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. {8} This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. {9} Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; {10} then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. {11} My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, {12} because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. {13} Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, {14} for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. {15} She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. {16} Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. {17} Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. {18} She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. {19} By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; {20} by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew. {21} My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; {22} they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. {23} Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; {24} when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. {25} Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, {26} for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. {27} Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. {28} Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"-- when you now have it with you. {29} Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. {30} Do not accuse a man for no reason-- when he has done you no harm. {31} Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, {32} for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence. {33} The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. {34} He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. {35} The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame.

(Prov 4 NIV)Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. {2} I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. {3} When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, {4} he taught me and said, "Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. {5} Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. {6} Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. {7} Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. {8} Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. {9} She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor." {10} Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. {11} I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. {12} When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. {13} Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. {14} Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. {15} Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. {16} For they cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall. {17} They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. {18} The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. {19} But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. {20} My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. {21} Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; {22} for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. {23} Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. {24} Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. {25} Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. {26} Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. {27} Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

(Prov 5 NIV)My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, {2} that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. {3} For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; {4} but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. {5} Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. {6} She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. {7} Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. {8} Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, {9} lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel, {10} lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man's house. {11} At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. {12} You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! {13} I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. {14} I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly." {15} Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. {16} Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? {17} Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. {18} May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. {19} A loving doe, a graceful deer-- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. {20} Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife? {21} For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths. {22} The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. {23} He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.

(Prov 6 NIV)My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, {2} if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, {3} then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! {4} Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. {5} Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler. {6} Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! {7} It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, {8} yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. {9} How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? {10} A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-- {11} and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. {12} A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, {13} who winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, {14} who plots evil with deceit in his heart-- he always stirs up dissension. {15} Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy. {16} There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: {17} haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, {18} a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, {19} a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. {20} My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching. {21} Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. {22} When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. {23} For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, {24} keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. {25} Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, {26} for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. {27} Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? {28} Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? {29} So is he who sleeps with another man's wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. {30} Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. {31} Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. {32} But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. {33} Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away; {34} for jealousy arouses a husband's fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. {35} He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse the bribe, however great it is.

(Prov 7 NIV)My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. {2} Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. {3} Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. {4} Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," and call understanding your kinsman; {5} they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words. {6} At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. {7} I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. {8} He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house {9} at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. {10} Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. {11} (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; {12} now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) {13} She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: {14} "I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows. {15} So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! {16} I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. {17} I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. {18} Come, let's drink deep of love till morning; let's enjoy ourselves with love! {19} My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. {20} He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon." {21} With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. {22} All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose {23} till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. {24} Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. {25} Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. {26} Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. {27} Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

(Prov 8 NIV)Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? {2} On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; {3} beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: {4} "To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. {5} You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. {6} Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. {7} My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. {8} All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. {9} To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge. {10} Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, {11} for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. {12} "I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. {13} To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. {14} Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. {15} By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; {16} by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth. {17} I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. {18} With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. {19} My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. {20} I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, {21} bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full. {22} "The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; {23} I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. {24} When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; {25} before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, {26} before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. {27} I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, {28} when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, {29} when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. {30} Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, {31} rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind. {32} "Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. {33} Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. {34} Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. {35} For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. {36} But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death."

(Prov 9 NIV)Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. {2} She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. {3} She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. {4} "Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. {5} "Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. {6} Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding. {7} "Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. {8} Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. {9} Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. {10} "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. {11} For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. {12} If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer." {13} The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. {14} She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, {15} calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. {16} "Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. {17} "Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!" {18} But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.


So there you are: Wisdom is much to be desired, more than silver or gold or rubies. Knowledge is good but wisdom is better. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and the knowledge you have today should lead you to seek wisdom. You will find wisdom in the words of God and in prayer. In fact the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes are known as wisdom literature. So are Job and the Psalms. Some would include the Song of Songs. These books are a good place to start and to study!


(2 Tim 2:15-16 KJV)Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. {16} But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.


This scripture is a call for wisdom. Be wise not otherwise!