Wisdom–Where to Find it and How to Live by it

We celebrated Marshall’s high school graduation on Sunday! 
At this momentous time in Marshall’s life it’s no surprise that our house is filling up with graduation cards packed with witty, insightful and sometimes emotional words of wisdom.  Challenging words about a future of adventure and focus. Encouraging words of praise for the successes achieved to this point. And, of course, comical words of random advice.

Wisdom—what is true wisdom? Where do we find it? And how do we live by it? These are the questions I am again pondering as I watch Marshall step into a new era of his life.

I found an insightful story about Daniel and his three friends in the midst of captivity in Babylon that really captures the answer to these questions.

King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. He knew it was significant but he couldn’t remember what it was. He told his wise men that they needed to tell him his dream and then explain its significance. When none of them could do this, he decided they weren’t so wise after all, and must be put to death for their inadequacies. But then Daniel, a young Jew who had been assigned to train as one of the king’s advisors and had already won respect, heard about this. He went to the king and asked for time (which the king had already refused to give the other wise men) to pray and seek God’s answer to this problem. Amazingly, the king granted his request. Here’s what happened:

“Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. 18 He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. 19 That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20 He said,
“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
    for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
    he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the scholars.
22 He reveals deep and mysterious things
    and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
    though he is surrounded by light.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
    for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
    and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

Daniel’s example challenges and inspires me. When faced with a life-threatening situation, he did not cower.

  • Instead he boldly went to the king and asked for time to consult the one true God.
  • And then he went to his friends and urged them to pray.
  • Finally, he himself begged God for wisdom to offer an answer to Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel saw wisdom as a gift that only God can give. But he also saw it as something God mercifully does give to those who ask, which is exactly what James (Jesus’s half-brother) tells us in James 1:5. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”  Finally, to Daniel, living by wisdom, meant praising God for his revealed truth, and then using that truth to further God’s glory. He went to the king, told him the dream and its interpretation, giving God all the credit, and assuring the king that the future events were indeed designed by God. And Nebuchadnezzar responds with, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries…” Daniel’s choice to live by God’s wisdom, expanded God’s name and his renown in the middle of a pagan kingdom!

That’s the kind of wisdom I want. That’s the kind of life I want to live. And it’s the kind of life I want for Marshall as he steps out into a whole new era of life.

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