“Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10)
Nurturing and advancing a biblical worldview requires a great many things, but none more than the two things Solomon sought from the Lord—wisdom and knowledge. David’s son inherited a huge worldview challenge—to rule Israel so that the goodness of God would flourish among His people in every area of life and every city of the land. Who, he wondered aloud to God, was sufficient for such a task? Who is sufficient for ruling even his own life according to the broad demands and exceeding great and precious promises of the revelation of God?
As Solomon felt helpless before the calling God had set for him, so we all must feel at times as we contemplate the calling to nurture and advance the biblical worldview within our own spheres of influence. We shall need much wisdom and knowledge from the Lord if we are to know success in this effort. Solomon can help us in learning to acquire and use these precious commodities, for unless we understand the distinct nature of wisdom and knowledge, how they are to be gained, and to what ends we must put them, we may not expect the Lord to bless our pursuit of them, nor our efforts in biblical worldview living.
Knowledge: The Prerequisite of Wisdom
What’s the difference between wisdom and knowledge? Clearly, the two are intimately related. In fact, it is impossible to separate them. One cannot be said truly to know something until the wisdom that knowledge engenders begins to be in evidence. Nor can one practice wisdom without the requisite knowledge and information that requires. There is an ineradicable overlap between knowledge and wisdom, and this, at the very least, demands that we not separate the two, or try to gain the one without the other, but that, like Solomon, we seek the two of them as part and parcel of one another and together integral to fulfilling our worldview calling. But first we must make sure we understand what we’re seeking.
Let’s begin with knowledge. The nature of knowledge would seem to be fairly straightforward: knowledge is what someone knows. But that’s not entirely true, and concerning this we may make three observations. First, the very idea of knowledge assumes that things have an identity by which they can be known. That is, we assume, in presuming to know something, that it already exists as something possessing a distinct identity which, to know, is to acquire knowledge of the thing. Nothing is a simply neutral thing. Everything has an identity, and this is especially so when we consider that everything that is has its origins in the mind of God, who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Things are what God says they are. Solomon understood this and, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, he distinguished between knowing things apart from God—which he referred to by the phrase, “under the sun”—and knowing things according to God—which Solomon meant by the phrase, “under the heavens.”
To know something according to its merely temporal and material existence—“under the sun”—is vanity and feeding on the wind. Trying to know things apart from God, Solomon insisted to his son, does not result in true knowledge at all, but merely half-truth, disappointment, and frustration. To know something truly, Solomon explained, you must see it according to the divine perspective, from God’s point of view, as He, the Maker and Sustainer of all things, intends it should be known.
So, in the first place, to know anything truly we must establish some link, some identity, between the thing we are seeking to know and the God who made and sustains it. Only from His point of view will we be able to approach true knowledge of anything. Information gained about anything apart from God may be true, at least to an extent, but this will be in spite of the perspective of the knower rather than because of it. Further, such knowledge of anything runs the distinct danger of being misunderstood and put to uses for which God never intended the thing.