Do intelligence & knowledge confer wisdom?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted October 17, 2016

The Bible assigns a high value to wisdom.

“…the price of wisdom is above rubies” (KJV Job 28:18).

“O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches” (KJV Psalms 104:24).

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever” (KJV Psalms 111:10).

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (KJV Proverbs 4:7).

“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it” (KJV Proverbs 8:11).

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (KJV Psalms 14:1).

When God asked Solomon what he would like to have from God, Solomon asked for wisdom (I Kings 3:5-14). Not only did Solomon see that the value of wisdom exceeded the value of anything else he might ask for, he also saw that it had to come from God as a gift. It could not be acquired through study or work. Later Solomon wrote, “…the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (KJV Proverbs 2:6).

Truth and wisdom are related, but wisdom and intelligence are not. Indeed, as I grow older, I am increasingly struck by the lack of correspondence between wisdom and intelligence. They have almost nothing to do with one another. I know some very simple people who are incredibly wise, and I know some very intelligent people who are incredibly foolish. Nor does education change the situation much. Indeed, some sages are both simple and uneducated, and some fools are both intelligent and erudite.

When I make this observation, most people scratch their head. Wisdom? What am I talking about?  Isn’t wisdom another term for intelligence and knowledge? No, it is not. The wise man sees the truth about someone or something. His perception may be comprehensive and complex if it is buttressed by intelligence and learning or partial and simple if it is not, but in either case it conveys the truth. The fool, on the other hand, sees what he himself wants to see. Again, the perception may be comprehensive and complex if it is buttressed by intelligence and learning or simple if it is not, but in either case it is a mirage – a false image of his own wishful thinking.

Paul wrote in Hebrews, “…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6) – that is, those who seek God must believe that God exists, and that he will reward them with, among other things, the truth. In other words, God wants us to believe him when he communicates with us. He wants us to accept his word by faith – whether his word is spoken, written, or incarnate.

A good test of one’s wisdom lies in the first verse of the Bible. It states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). In the beginning (time), God (Elohim -plural with a singular meaning) created (only God can create something out of nothing; man can make or re-form things using something, but he cannot create something out of nothing) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter).

Henry Morris paraphrases this verse as follows: “The transcendent, omnipotent Godhead called into existence the space-mass-time universe.”  He also points out that this verse contradicts all of man’s false philosophies concerning the origin and meaning of the world; (a) atheism, because the universe was created by God; (b) pantheism, because God is transcendent (above, outside) the universe; (c) polytheism, because the Godhead is a unity; (d) materialism, for matter had a beginning; (e) dualism, because God was alone when he created the universe; (f) humanism, because God, not man, is the ultimate reality; and (g) evolutionism, because God created all things.[1]

The Bible makes no attempt to refute any of these philosophies, it merely presents the account of God’s creation as the truth; it must be accepted by faith. God has set things up in such a way that accepting his word by faith is a precondition to learning the truth about anything. “…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Moreover, “…without faith, it is impossible to please him…” (Hebrews 11:6). If a person accepts Genesis 1:1 by faith, he will not find it difficult to believe anything else recorded in the Bible. If he does not accept Genesis 1:1, he will be led into fables[2] – often of his own devising – which represent the desires of his God-rejecting heart.

Now you can see why Solomon asked for wisdom, not for intelligence and not for knowledge. Without wisdom, no amount of intelligence or knowledge will lead you to the truth of a matter, let alone to the personification of Truth, who is the Lord God Almighty.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.


[1] Morris, Henry, The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI, pp 37-39.

[2] Good examples of modern fables are heliocentrism, biological evolution, and geological uniformitarianism.

2 thoughts on “Do intelligence & knowledge confer wisdom?”

  1. Hello John:
    I have browsed through your website. It is obvious you invested a lot of time and effort to address issues that could benefit today’s society. I don’t know if it was the Saint Paul’s background that motivated you to embark on this effort or whether it was a higher calling. Your work is commendable. Society needs a greater awareness of spiritual enlightenment.
    Best of luck,

    1. Demetrios: What a nice surprise! A voice out of the past. I don’t think we have spoken since we graduated, because I don’t recall running into you at any of the reunions which I have attended. I hope you are well. Thank you so much for your comment on my website. I am so glad that you found something of value in it. Regarding how I came to kneel at the feet of the Lord and begin serving Him, I have attached a testimony that I delivered from the pulpit in my church at the time (2009). As you will see, Saint Paul’s played a role in getting me there, but only in so far as the scriptural readings, prayers, and hymns which I heard in the school chapel daily for five years were like seeds that took over two decades to germinate. (If you read the talk that I gave at my retirement banquet which is on the website, you will find a bit of repetition here. I reused some of the material from that talk here a few months later.) With warm regards, John

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