“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
Proverbs 24:3-4 (NIV)
A few weeks ago my family visited Washington, D.C. As we walked through buildings like the United States Capitol and Library of Congress, we were awed by their ornate architecture and lavish décor and the rare historic artifacts they contained. These buildings weren’t just beautiful, though; they were storehouses filled with items of deep and lasting historical significance such as the Gutenburg Bible, murals depicting the development of our system of government and portraits and statues of America’s founding fathers.
In Proverbs 24:3-4, Solomon advises us that there are three cornerstones which establish a good “house”: wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Used in this sense, “house” represents more than just a building; it symbolizes ourselves, our family, and our church in the same way that the White House, Capitol Building and Library of Congress represent the life, history and the very essence of these United States of America.
If you looked closely at your own life, what would its cornerstones be? Is it built on the bedrocks of the fear of, and faith in, the Lord? If so, its cornerstone is wisdom, since Proverbs 1:7 tells us that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
In order to finish building your spiritual house, though, you must add the building blocks of knowledge and understanding. But, what do the words knowledge, understanding and wisdom, as Solomon uses them in Proverbs 24, really mean?
Knowledge (Heb. da`ath), as the word itself implies, means simply to know or be aware of one or more facts or pieces of information.
Understanding (Heb. tabuwn) is a bit broader than knowledge and includes the ideas of insight and instruction. This means that those who have understanding not only hear or learn a fact, but they also appreciate its underlying significance and potential use and can convey that significance and use in such a way that their listeners can understand it as well.
Wisdom (Heb. chokmah) goes beyond either knowledge or understanding and carries with it the notions of skill, shrewdness and prudence. A person with wisdom has the ability to take what has been learned and apply it to her own life and is also able to determine whether, when and how to share that information with others so that it offers the most benefit to those who hear it.
So, spiritually speaking, our lives, families and churches, should be built on the solid foundation of wisdom, which comes with the regular and diligent study of God’s word (knowledge) and an appreciation of its underlying significance (understanding). Once we take hold of these things, our “houses” can then be decorated with “rare and beautiful treasures” like humility, grace, peace, love, joy, patience, goodness, self-control, and kindness.
Isaiah 33:6 tells us, “He will be a sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.” So, follow his wise advice and build and decorate your own spiritual house with wisdom, knowledge and understanding.