Wisdom. [Heb. and Aramaic usually chokmah, “skill,” “wisdom”; Gr. usually sophia, “wisdom.”]
A quality of sound judgment developed by experience, observation, and reflection. Wisdom is a function of the trained mind, which Bible writers set forth as coming from the Lord (Job 28:20, 23, 27; Ps 111:10) and which they connect with obedience to His commands (Ps 37:30, 31; Prov 2:1, 2).
Of the canonical books, Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes belong to what is commonly called the “wisdom literature.” “The price of wisdom,” says Job, “is above rubies” (Job 28:18). “The fear of the Lord,” he declares, “is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (v 28).
As in Job’s case, true wisdom enables a man to face the vicissitudes of life with equanimity. Only as he looked to God and trusted in Him could Job wisely relate himself to the disappointments and difficulties of life. David similarly looked to God for instruction in wisdom (Ps 51:6). A psalm attributed to Moses appeals to God to teach men to number their days, that they may apply their hearts unto wisdom (Ps 90:12).
Here, as in Job 12:12, wisdom is seen as being developed by experiences through which the Lord leads those who fear Him. Solomon’s declared objective in writing out his proverbs was that his people might “know wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:2). In the early chapters of the book of Proverbs he personifies wisdom (see ch 3:16–18; etc.). “Wisdom is the principal thing,” he says; “therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (ch 4:7).
The book of Ecclesiastes summarizes the wisdom that came to Solomon after many years of dissipation, during which his moral sensibilities were blunted, his conscience seared, and his judgment perverted. Toward the close of his life conscience finally awakened and Solomon began to see folly in its true light, realizing that he had come to be “an old and foolish king” who would “no more be admonished” (Ec 4:13).
The time was drawing near when he must die, and he found no pleasure in reflecting upon his wasted life (ch 12:1). Sincerely repentant, he sought to retrace his wayward steps, and chastened in spirit he turned, weary and thirsty, from earth’s broken cisterns to drink once more of the fountain of life. He came to realize the folly of his course, and in the book of Ecclesiastes sought to lift a voice of warning to save others from the bitter experiences through which he himself had passed, hoping thereby to counteract as best he could the baleful influence of his own earlier example.
Seventh Day Adventist Bible Dictionary