In Proverbs 9:1 we read, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars” (NIV 1984). What are the seven pillars found in the house of wisdom?
We find them listed for us in the previous chapter in Proverbs 8:12,14 (NIV 1984): I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion… Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. And note how verses 15 and 16 connect wisdom to leadership.
Common proverbs are created to capture some of the worldly wisdom based on experiences gathered over time. For example, “Look before you leap,” “A penny saved is a penny earned,” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” all catalog observed experiences. But they have no ability to determine right from wrong or good from bad; they simply operate on the assumption that results are good.
Information is a building block of the foundation of understanding and wisdom. Without knowledge (information), there is no understanding or wisdom. But knowledge alone will not help us lead a wise life that is pleasing to God. If we are not careful, much knowledge can lead to an elitist spirit, an “I’m better than you” attitude.
By contrast, Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” This fear is not terror or something that drives us away from the Lord. Rather, it is respect—a healthy awe and recognition that God is our Creator, the one with no beginning and no end, Alpha and Omega, King of kings and Lord of lords. We are but dust whom He has breathed life into. Truth resides in Him and His Word, and therefore we focus our knowledge pursuit on knowing Him and His Word, with an eye toward applying it in God-pleasing ways.
The knowledge that leads to godly wisdom is rooted in knowing God from His Word. It is knowing Him personally—intimately. It flows out of a growing, dynamic love relationship with Him over a lifetime. This knowledge results from pursuing God, loving Him with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38) and living a life pleasing to Him. It is the pursuit of God for the whole of life.
In his prayer for the Colossian believers, Paul asked God that they “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:9-10).
Having knowledge helps us begin our journey to wisdom, but it is not the destination. Knowledge is desirable and good, but it is a contingent good—it is how we get to godly wisdom, the ultimate goal.
For more thoughts on leading with Kingdom wisdom: Growing Kingdom Wisdom