Sunday School Lessons

Not Exactly a Wise Guy

We probably know a few men who are best described as “wise guys” (and, if you like, you can imagine the Three Stooges saying that: “A wise guy, eh?”).  Today, this sort of humor is sometimes described as “dad jokes” (a vice that I’m guilty of), but hopefully you know what someone means when they describe someone as being a wise guy.

On the other hand, at Christmas time, we think of the Magi from the East in the account of Jesus’ birth.  Sometimes we call them “wise men”, and I think that their behavior justifies that.

However, I think that we sometimes equate the idea of “wisdom” with things that are obscure and esoteric.  Whether we connect the attribute of having wisdom with people like the Magi (actual people recorded in the Bible) or Yoda (a fictional character from Star Wars), we might imagine wisdom to be something that is relegated to long-bearded sages, and not something that we can have in abundance for ourselves, nor a skill that we can use in our regular lives on a daily basis.

A fellow author (Wayne Winquist, https://proverbs27flocks.com/), describes the following method that he uses to teach pastors in India (via Zoom) about some key terms:

“To help them understand some important words in Proverbs (Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom) I gave them my definitions:

    • Knowledge is gaining and remembering truthful facts.
    • Understanding is valuing the truth and knowing how to apply the knowledge in life’s circumstances and choices.
    • Wisdom is applying the truth in various circumstances with different people, various choices, and changing situations.

The source of all three: God. Proverbs 2:6 and Proverbs 1:1-7

Here’s a link to a post of mine where Wayne left these comments:

Quotes from the Pharisees: Are You Saying I’m Wrong? (Part 2)

It is good news that God’s wisdom is always appropriate, timely, and available, as we learn in James 1:5-8.  Wisdom isn’t something we should limit to guys in robes.  It is something that each of us should seek from God – in faith and confidence – every day.

But wisdom also may not be what we think it is (like “inconceivable” in the move, The Princess Bride), in terms of what it is to be used for.  Let’s consider Solomon, who was the wisest earthly king that the world – both ancient and modern – has ever known.  In the book of 2 Chronicles, we find the following response from the Queen of Sheba, after she observed Solomon’s situation:

How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the LORD your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness.”
2 Chronicles 9:7‭-‬8 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/2ch.9.7-8.NIV

Solomon’s wisdom, wealth, and fame (mentioned earlier in this chapter) weren’t merely for his own benefit.  There were at least two other benefits, which the queen illustrated here:

  • First, other people were blessed.  This includes both those in Israel generally, and the specific people who got to listen to Solomon.  I think that those of us who get to listen to good teaching from the Bible (and even teaching on secular topics) can appreciate the joy of learning and understanding things that we didn’t know before.  Whether I’m listening to a pastor, or watching “How It’s Made” on TV, it is a blessing to learn more about God and His creation.
  • And, God was praised.  I don’t know what faith this queen had when she arrived, but by the time she left, she had a new appreciation for the God (Jehovah) that had placed Solomon on the throne of Israel.  Note that she understands that God had selected Solomon for the good of Israel (God’s people).  God wasn’t just blessing Solomon, here.

Sometimes, I wish that more of Solomon’s wisdom was captured.  Sure, we have the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, but it appears that there was much more that we don’t still have with us today.  I suppose that God knew which wisdom from Solomon we needed to keep around, though, and history is past, so there’s no use in wishing for something that is no longer present.

It’s good news, though, that the source of all wisdom – God Almighty – is still near to each of us.  It’s even better news that He offers it to us, if we will just ask.  Let’s ask God for wisdom, along with other big things that only He can provide, today.  No robe is required, but we should consider what wisdom is meant to be used for in the first place.


From Sunday School lesson prepared for July 4, 2021

References:

  • The Lookout, July 4, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Not Exactly a Wise Guy”

  1. Thank you for reminding all of us of the benefits of wisdom. That should be obvious, but sometimes, we are “wise guys” and not wise men. Loved the reminder about the Three Stooges. Their antics provide many illustrations for how not to live. Folly leads to hurting others and certainly doesn’t bring glory to God. Wisdom, as you have wisely noted, blesses others and praises God. Thanks again for your thoughtful and encouraging writing.

    I also appreciate you sharing my definitions! You may quote me anytime. I save many of the things you write as a future source for teaching and preaching. I have a folder on my laptop that is my own set of Word documents on various topics. Many of them are short devotionals from John Piper or things I read from other authors on desiringGod.org. Others are things that Paul David Tripp has written. He has some good insights from Proverbs as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I didn’t think that you wouldn’t mind me sharing your insights (with a citation, of course), and I’m glad that you find some of my writing worth saving. In my mind, this is all part of the same goal of discipleship that Jesus gave us: No matter who happens to first write down some helpful thoughts from God’s word, we all share in the opportunity to point people to God.

      Like

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