Messianic Musings – Wisdom is the Principal Thing….

got wisdomRecently, a Christian blogger that I follow with great delight (Stressless with Jesus) published an excellent post about her desire to be led by YHVH’s wisdom. The Spirit used her article to remind me that ‘wisdom’ is spoken of constantly in the Tanakh (Old Testament) as well as in the NT, so it might be helpful to do a word study and figure out precisely what scripture is speaking of when it refers to ‘wisdom.’  This turned out to be a very interesting study!

Although there were some surprises in the study, it was not a surprise to find that scripture defines wisdom as the fear of YHVH (Psalm 111:10) and the knowledge of the holy (Prov 9:10), and that the knowledge of the holy is the knowledge of Torah and the rest of God’s Word (Deut 4:5-9) (remembering that in the Hebraic perspective, knowledge is never just what we store in our heads, but what we tangibly live out in our lives).

‘Wisdom’ in Scripture

Scripture uses several Hebrew words that are translated into English as “wisdom.”

  • The first appears in Gen 3:6 – And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise (sakal), she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eatadam-and-eveThis is the Hebrew word שָׂכַל (sakal), meaning having insight and comprehension (understanding) so that one may act prudently. In scripture, this word generally includes the idea of being able to make intelligent decisions that allow for success in one’s endeavors. This word is related to knowledge – the more you know, the better the choices you can make.  Apparently Adam didn’t know about a lady’s weight sensitivity….  😉

Sakal is found translated as a number of different English words. You can see the various scriptures using this word by clicking on the following links: understand(12x), wise (12x), prosper (8x), wisely (6x), understanding (5x), consider (4x), instruct (3x), prudent (2x), skill (2x), teach (2x), misc (7x).

  • The second important Hebrew word that gets translated as ‘wisdom’ first appears in Exodus 28:3 – And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise (khä·kam’) hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom (khok·mä’), that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

The word used here is the Hebrew word חָכְמָה (khok·mä’) meaning ethical and religious wisdom and prudence. This word is derived from the root word חָכַם (khä·kam’) meaning to be or to become wise in making judgments. ‘Making judgments’ includes the idea of rulership, since only those in authority are qualified to make legal judgments, so this word is often used when speaking of those who rule according to YHVH’s instructions.

Wisdom_Series_slide_web_smallKhok·mä’ is used far more frequently than sakal when referring to godly wisdom.

Khok·mä’ is is generally translated as ‘wisdom’: wisdom (145x), wisely (2x), skilful man (1x), wits (1x).

There are a few other words that also get translated into English as ‘wisdom’ or words with a similar meaning, but they all seem to be forms of the two words given above, so I won’t bore you with them here.

Wisdom and Instruction go hand in hand….
cropped-lost-and-confused.jpg
THE ONLY ROAD SIGN AVAILABLE TO THOSE WHO REJECT YHVH’S WORD…

The fear of YHVH is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Prov 1:7

Often when scripture speaks of wisdom, it simultaneously mentions ‘instruction’ (ex: Prov 1:2-3, Prov 1:7 (above), Prov 15:33, Prov 23:23, etc.), so it seemed pertinent to take a look at the words translated into English as ‘instruction.’

In each of the four verses listed above, the Hebrew word מוּסָר (mü·sär’) is translated as ‘instruction.’  I was surprised to learn that the actual meaning is discipline, chastening, correctionIn fact, as far as I can tell, every Hebrew word translated in the English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) as ‘instruction’ (including mü·sär’) derives from a root word, yä·sar’, which means to chasten, discipline, instruct, admonish, or to allow oneself to be chastened disciplined or instructed. This clarification helped me to better understand such verses as Prov 6:23

Gods Way my wayFor the commandment is a lamp; and Torah is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of [road to] life:

Here are the listings for the two words, but there are other forms of the words, as well, so this list is not exhaustive.

 Mü·sär’: instruction (30x), correction (8x), chasten (4x), chastisement (3x), check (1x), bond (1x), discipline (1x), doctrine (1x), rebuker (1x).

Yä·sar’: chastise (21) instruct (8x), correct (7x), taught (2x), bound (1x), punish (1x), reformed (1x), reproveth (1x), sore (1x).

What does Scripture say about Wisdom and Instruction?

As we’ve seen above, there are scores of verses referring to ‘wisdom’ and ‘instruction’ (and we haven’t even talked about ‘understanding’!), which makes it plain that YHVH considers these to be important subjects for His people.

The next step is to use these definitions to determine how scripture (YHVH) views ‘wisdom’ and ‘instruction’ so that we can understand what it is that YHVH wants us to know!

I hope you will do your own research, but I have listed a few verses here that seem to me to sum up the scriptural view of wisdom.

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Prov 4:7

TreasureFor wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. Prov 8:11

These and other verses tell us that YHVH feels strongly that He wants His people to have godly wisdom. So how do we go about GETTING that wisdom?

The fear [יִרְאָה (yir’ah) – respect, reverence] of YHVH is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Prov 9:10

The fear of YHVH is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. Prov 15:33

These and verses like them tell us that the very first step toward wisdom is to respect and love YHVH and to know His Word. For those of us who love and respect Him, our foremost desire is to know and do what pleases Him.  As children who adore their father, we want to BE LIKE HIM.  That means we must take the second step: we must learn what it is that He considers to be appropriate behavior, worthy goals, sound life principles, etc.  We must attain to the knowledge of the holy.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2Tim 2:15 NIV

A loving earthly father carefully teaches his child the things he needs to know, and our Heavenly Father does the same. The primary resource He has chosen for this teaching process is His Word, and particularly His Torah..

YHVH said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with Torah [directions] and commandments [mitzvot – specific regulations] I have written for their instruction.”  Exo 24:12

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments…. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations… Deut 4:5-6

Only [may] YHVH give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the Torah of YHVH thy God.  1Chron 22:12

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy Torah; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.  Ps 119:34

It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.  Luke 4:4  (And of course ‘The Word’ that Y’shua was referring to was the Tanakh, including Torah, because the NT had not yet been written.)

My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. Luke 8:21

Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. Luke 11:28

The Word of YHVH
The Word of YHVH

I have discussed in other articles [1] that it seems very clear that Y’shua taught His disciples to be Torah-followers.  That makes all the sense in the world, since Torah is simply YHVH’s ethical standards applied to human behavior.  His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts like our thoughts, so His Torah (‘directions’ or ‘instructions’) inform us what His ways and thoughts are, so that we can be conformed to them, just as Y’shua was.

if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments [ἐντολή (entolē) [2] ]. Matt 19:17

This is the godly WISDOM that scripture (and Y’shua) tells us to emulate!

He that saith, ‘I know him,’ and keepeth not his commandments [ἐντολή (entolē) [3] ], is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is The Word which ye have heard from the beginning [i.e., Torah]. 1Jo 2:4-7

Wisdom is Knowing God’s Word and Living According to its Precepts

As I studied what YHVH has to say about wisdom in the OT and what Y’shua has to say about it in the NT, it seemed pretty clear to me that godly wisdom is having a solid knowledge of His Word (specifically the OT), acquired through careful study and meditation, and then living our lives in a way that conforms to that Word and Y’shua’s midrash of (explanation of, commentary on) that Word.

What-We-LearnedThough the modern Christian church teaches otherwise, scripture defines wisdom as living according to Torah, YHVH’s ethical system.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; Col 1:9


© Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


[1]  Why Did Y’shua Come to Planet Earth?, The Just Shall Live by Faith, Torah: The Purpose, Torah: The Road Map for the Way of Righteousness, etc.

[2]  The Greek word ἐντολή (entolē), translated here as ‘commandments’, is Strong’s G1785, which is the same word used in Heb 7:5, Matt 15:4-6, Mark 7:8-9, etc, all of which refer to the mitzvot (the 613 regulations) found in Torah, not the Ten Commandments.  It can be demonstrated from Scripture that it was Y’shua who gave Moses the mitzvot!

[3] The Greek word ἐντολή (entolē), translated here as ‘commandments’, is Strong’s G1785, which is the same word used in Heb 7:5, Matt 15:4-6, Mark 7:8-9, etc, all of which refer to the mitzvot (the 613 regulations) found in Torah, not the Ten Commandments.  It can be demonstrated from Scripture that it was Y’shua who gave Moses the mitzvot!

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4 thoughts on “Messianic Musings – Wisdom is the Principal Thing….”

    1. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18 🙂 🙂 🙂

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