God told Solomon that He would give him whatever he asked of Him. Solomon asked for wisdom; for a discerning heart so that he would be able to govern his people judiciously. Because he asked for wisdom rather than wealth, or anything else, God granted him, not only wisdom, but riches and honor as well. 1Kings 3:5-13
Proverbs 9:1 says, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. I studied this, and found the seven pillars to be prudence, understanding, discipline, instruction, knowledge, discretion, and integrity.
Prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself. It is having sagacity and shrewdness in one’s dealings-business and personal, I think. Prudence is also skill and good judgement regarding the use and management of one’s resources. The Proverbs 31 woman comes to mind. She was a very prudent woman, and possessed the other six “pillars” or qualities of wisdom as well. Proverbs 19:14 tells us that, “houses and wealth are inherited from parents but a prudent wife is from the LORD.”
Understanding is not only the ability to comprehend knowledge given, or situations and circumstances. It is also the ability to sympathize and to act or see with compassion and kindness. Proverbs 24:3 – By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established. This verse can be applied to both definitions because comprehension of rules, ways, etc., is essential to functionality. Compassion and kindness are essential to bonding and to a feeling of belonging and unity in the household. Proverbs 11:16 & 17 also speak about kindness.
Discipline is orderly conduct or behavior; self-control. 1st Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is a God of order and peace. This tells me that discipline and order bring peace; and also sustain it. Self control along with peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Of course, peace promotes love and joy, which are also fruits of the Spirit. Discipline is also correction and reproof in moral training or uprightness. Proverbs 10:17 -He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others to destruction. Proverbs 13:24 -He who spares the rod hates his son but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Discipline is a serious thing and the Bible even tells us that God disciplines those He loves. Discipline or the “rod” is not punishment and pain (cruelty). Of course, discipline can be painful because we feel ashamed and guilty when we fall short, but discipline and the “rod” of discipline are really taking responsibility or facing the natural consequences of our actions coming to “fruition.” It is having to take responsibility for our choices and actions. God said, “Choose.” When we make good choices, we usually get good results. Bad choices yield bad results. Jesus said that a good tree can’t bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree good fruit; so “make the tree good.” Discipline makes the tree good.
Instruction is teaching and training. It is learning and gaining working knowledge of a subject or matter. Proverbs 23:12 -Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to knowledge. This tells me we need to embrace instruction; take it to heart. Instruction is not just putting a concept to mind but taking it to heart, embracing it, and putting that concept into practice in one’s life.
Knowledge is not only education and learning of or in an area or subject. It is familiarity of it; how it works, the intricacies of the matter. Knowledge is knowing something or someone with familiarity. For instance, I know God loves me. I know God’s word is true; is alive and filled with power because I have been instructed in God’s word and have put it into practice in my own life. Also, I know God because I have relationship with Him; we are familiar with each other. I have intimacy or knowing with familiarity with him.
Discretion is defined as level headedness and discernment; as being unpretentious, having modesty -this includes not needing glory or attention. You know who, and more importantly, whose you are, and your doing comes or flows from that knowing. It doesn’t matter to you who else does or doesn’t know it. Unobtrusiveness and preserving prudent silence are two key elements of discernment. Proverbs 3:21-24 talks about preserving sound judgement and discernment and how they will be an “ornament of grace for your neck.” It says if we do this our way will be safe, our feet won’t stumble, and our sleep will be sweet. We won’t be afraid to lie down. There are warnings all throughout Proverbs about gossiping and being a tale bearer. The Bible warns us about back-biting and devouring one another. Being the end of the line when it comes to such things is important. Just because everybody else is talking doesn’t mean we have to. I can choose to squash gossip by not repeating it. That doesn’t mean, of course, that it won’t get repeated by others, but I’ve done my part and that’s what I will be held accountable for. Proverbs 25:11 says “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:3 says, “A sly tongue brings angry looks.” If you’re gossiping and back-biting and lying, you’re not going to sleep very well because you have to worry about all those people you’ve been talking about and all the lies you’ve told coming back to haunt you. You will create such a “web” that you will trip and fall. But prudent silence will be an ornament to grace your neck. People will know they can trust you and confide in you because you don’t repeat gossip, and you respect confidentiality. This demonstrates a true desire to help; real caring and true friendship. Proverbs 27:9 talks about how the pleasantness of friendship springs from earnest counsel.
Integrity is soundness of character, morality, uprightness, and incorruptibility; honesty. None of us is incorruptible; we’re all human, weak, and in our human nature we are corruptible and vulnerable to sin. How then can we possibly have soundness of character? Honesty is the key word here. We have to be honest with others and most importantly with ourselves and with God. Honesty produces accountability; and in that accountability, our uprightness and integrity grow. Jesus warned the disciples about the Pharisees and Sadducees. He called them hypocrites because they had no integrity. They were constantly trying to trip Jesus up, but they themselves were like “whitewashed tombs” that looked good on the outside but were filled with death inside.
When I think about pillars I think about ancient temple ruins. The Bible tells us that with humility there is wisdom. Proverbs 16:18 tells us that pride goes before destruction. Our prudence, understanding, discipline and knowledge can be pillars in a temple of wisdom and a consecrated life-meaning life based on God’s Word and His truths; but if we’re not careful, they can become as idols in a temple of self-righteousness and arrogance.