Wisdom - Chokmah (Hebrew Word Study)

Wisdom (02451)(chokmah [word study] from the verb chakam - to be wise) is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is the ability to see something from God’s viewpoint. Wisdom is “God’s character in the many practical affairs of life.”

We can get INFORMATION "on LINE" (from Google)
but WISDOM is from "on HIGH" (from God)!

Chokmah is the knowledge and the ability to make the right choices at the opportune time. The consistency of making the right choice is an indication of one's spiritual maturity. The prerequisite for this "wisdom" is the fear of the Lord (Pr 1:7-note). "Wisdom" is personified as crying out for disciples who will do everything to pursue her (Pr 1:20). The person who seeks chokmah diligently will receive understanding: (Pr 2:6) and will benefit in life by walking with God (Pr 2:20, cf Gal 5:16).

Chokmah is used most often in Proverbs, so that the reader of the "wise sayings" might know wisdom and allow the Truth of God to govern his or her life. It follows that it behooves every child of God to meditate frequently and deeply on the Words of Wisdom in the book of Proverbs (see all uses below which would be a wonderful study, making a list of what you learn about wisdom and then praying accordingly). Do I make Proverbs a frequent and vital part of my daily intake so that my heart and mind and soul and spirit might be nourished with God's wisdom, the wisdom from on high, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy? (James 3:17, cp Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4)? This wisdom is not based on upon "theoretical knowledge but shows itself in a proper discernment between good and evil or right and wrong. Wisdom is the divinely created system of rules that governs the "moral fiber" of the universe. To master wisdom is to achieve true and lasting success in life. The first step toward wisdom, and its controlling principle, is faith in Yahweh" (Criswell), specifically Yeshua, Jesus, "in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col 2:3- note), for Christ is "the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1Cor 1:24) and by God's doing every believer is "in Christ Jesus, Who became wisdom from God." (1Cor 1:30).

Wisdom is the right use of knowledge:
All true spiritual wisdom is found only in Christ.

There is a "counter-wisdom" called "folly," the practice of which leads just as surely to destruction. God is the starting point for the education that leads to wisdom. Wisdom in the biblical sense, is something more than a collection of factual information. It includes knowing how to conduct oneself in the practical affairs of everyday life, to make wise choices, to do the right thing in relation to others, and to have insight into the true nature of things. Wisdom of this kind can only grow out of an awareness of God and His purpose in the world. Fools may acquire encyclopedic information, but they cannot attain wisdom because they fail to take God into account. Wisdom is not acquired by a mechanical formula but through a right relationship with God.

NET Note - The noun “wisdom” (חָכְמָה, khokhmah) could be nuanced “moral skill.” It refers to “skill” that produces something of value. It is used in reference to the skill of seamen (Ps 107:27), abilities of weavers (Ex 35:26), capabilities of administrators (1Kgs 3:28), or skill of craftsmen (Ex 31:6). In the realm of moral living, it refers to skill in living - one lives life with moral skill so that something of lasting value is produced from one’s life.

Thayer makes an excellent point that wisdom is "used of the knowledge of very diverse matters, so that the shade of meaning in which the word is taken must be discovered from the context in every particular case."

Ortlund - Wisdom is skill, expertise, competence that understands how life really works, how to achieve successful and even beautiful results. We see a picture of wisdom in Exodus 35:31, where the word translated “wisdom” in Proverbs 1:2 is used for the skill of an artist adorning the tabernacle. We see wisdom in Jeremiah 10:9 where the expertise of goldsmiths is called “the work of skilled (Ed: Hebrew = adjective chakam derived from noun chokmah) men,” or wise men. We see wisdom in Psalm 107:27 for the know-how of sailors, who use the winds and tides to make their way through the sea to their destination. Whether craftsmanship working with the materials of life or seamanship steering through the currents of life, so to speak, wisdom understands how real life can work well. Wisdom knows better than to walk onto the football field and hope the game will go well somehow; wisdom draws up a game plan that will score more touchdowns than the opponents because that plan takes into account not only the rules of the game but also psychology and timing and strategy and everything it takes to win. That is wisdom. (Preaching the Word: Proverbs—Wisdom that Works)

Spiritual wisdom is godly wisdom (contrasted with worldly wisdom - study and make a list of the contrasts in Jas 3:13-18 and 1Cor 1:19 through 1Cor 2:13) and involves living life in the light of the revelation of God’s Will in His Word and applying this knowledge to specific situations. Biblical wisdom is definable as skill for living. God's plan to redeem us destroyed the wisdom of the worldly wise men (1Cor 1:19). In fact, human wisdom can never comprehend God's plan for salvation (1Cor 1:21). Paul was not bound by the limits of human wisdom because the Holy Spirit conveyed spiritual wisdom through him (1Cor 2:13) and we possess the same indwelling Spirit beloved!

Wisdom is the insight into the true nature of things. Knowledge is the mental possession of powers of perceiving objects, wisdom is the power of right reasoning concerning them and forming right decisions accordingly.

Wisdom is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.

Wisdom is the art of being successful, of forming the correct plan to gain the desired results. Its seat is the heart, the centre of moral and intellectual decision

Wisdom emphasizes understanding of ultimate things—such as life and death, God and man, righteousness and sin, heaven and hell, eternity and time.

Wisdom is mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense (Vincent).

Spurgeon - Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.

Chokmah can refer to technical skills or special abilities in fashioning something. The artisan was considered to be endowed with special abilities given to him by God Ex 35:31. Wisdom is seen in the skill of technical work in making garments for the high priest (Ex 28:3), craftsmanship in metal work (Ex 31:3, 6), as well as the execution of battle tactics (Isa 10:13). Wisdom is required from government leaders and heads of state for administration (Dt 34:9; 2Sa14:20), including pagan leaders as well as Israelites (Ezek 28:5). The Messiah demonstrates wisdom and discernment in his function as leader of His people (Isa 11:2). To act wisely means to carry out right principles. A wise workman works according to the right principles of his craft, producing a quality product. Morally, a wise person (enabled by the Holy Spirit, not by a fleshly driven legalism!) lives out the revealed principles of right and wrong, which reflect the character of God.

Vance Havner - If you lack knowledge, go to school. If you lack wisdom, get on your knees! Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is the proper use of knowledge.

James Draper - Wisdom is the skill to live in a way that is pleasing to God. It is not simply information in our heads. It is information that we put to use—where we live, where we work, and where we play. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, of wisdom. That is the starting point. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. We must choose either to live in the power of God, under the discipline of his Word, or to live foolishly. The world offers no hope, no solution, no encouragement. God says, "I want you to have wisdom, the skill to experience life as it ought to be experienced." The choice is up to us.

Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary - The biblical concept of wisdom is quite different from the classical view of wisdom, which sought through philosophy and human rational thought to determine the mysteries of existence and the universe. The first principle of biblical wisdom is that people should humble themselves before God in reverence and worship, obedient to His commands. This idea is found especially in the Wisdom Literature: the books of Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. In the Old Testament, the best example of a “wise man” is King Solomon (1Ki 10:4,6, 7, 8). And yet the same book that heaps such lavish, warm, and glowing praise upon Solomon for his reputed wisdom (1Ki 4:29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34) also points out how Solomon’s heart turned away from the Lord (1Ki 11:1-13)." (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

From Solomon's life example, clearly "spiritual wisdom" is no guarantee that one will walk worthy, but needs to be affect our heart decisions in order to be practical. How are you doing in this area? Are you like "wise" King Solomon, filled with "spiritual wisdom" and yet choosing to walk in a manner counter to God's clearly revealed will? Bible study won't do you much good unless it transforms your thinking and your walk. True spiritual wisdom must affect our daily life. Wisdom and practical intelligence must go together.

NAS Usage: skill (5), skill* (1), wisdom (143), wisely (3), wits' (1).

Chokmah - 145v and 41x in Proverbs! - Ex. 28:3; 31:3, 6; 35:26, 31, 35; 36:1-2; Deut. 4:6; 34:9; 2 Sam. 14:20; 20:22; 1Ki. 2:6; 3:28; 4:29-30, 34; 5:12; 7:14; 10:4, 6-8, 23-24; 11:41; 1Chr. 28:21; 2Chr. 1:10-12; 9:3, 5-7, 22-23; Job 4:21; 11:6; Job 12:2, 12-13; 13:5; 15:8; 26:3; 28:12, 18, 20, 28; 32:7, 13; 33:33; 38:36-37; Job 39:17; Ps. 37:30; 49:3; 51:6; 90:12; 104:24; 107:27; 111:10; Pr. 1:2, 7, Pr 1:20; 2:2, 6, 10; 3:13, 19; 4:5, 7, 11; 5:1; 7:4; 8:1, 11, 12; 9:1, 10; 10:13, Pr 10:23, 31; 11:2; 13:10; 14:6, 8, 33; 15:33; 16:16; 17:16, 24; 18:4; 21:30; Pr 23:23; 24:3, 7, 14; 28:26; 29:3, 15; 30:3; 31:26; Eccl. 1:13, 16-18; 2:3, Eccl 2:9, 12-13, 21, 26; 7:10-12, 19, 23, 25; 8:1, 16; 9:10, 13, 15-16, 18; 10:1, 10; Isa. 10:13; 11:2; 29:14; 33:6; 47:10; Jer. 8:9; 9:23; 10:12; 49:7; 51:15; Ezek. 28:4-5, 7, 12, 17; Da 1:4, 17, 20

Below are all the uses of chokmah in Proverbs. A fruitful exercise would be to observe (especially to interrogate the passages using the "5W's and H" questions ) each use of wisdom in Proverbs and make a note about what is associated with wisdom. In this way you could compile your own, personal "working definition" of wisdom. I think it might be an investment that could yield fruit all the remainder of your days!

Pr 1:2 To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding,

Pr 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Pr 1:20 Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square;

Pr 2:2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding;

Pr 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Pr 2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

Pr 3:13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding.

Pr 3:19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.

Pr 4:5 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

Pr 4:7 “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.

Pr 4:11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.

Pr 5:1 My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding;

Pr 7:4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” And call understanding your intimate friend;

Pr 8:1 Does not wisdom call, And understanding lift up her voice?

Pr 8:11 “For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her.

Pr 8:12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And I find knowledge and discretion.

Pr 9:1 Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars;

Pr 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Pr 10:13 On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.

Pr 10:23 Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.

Pr 10:31 The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out.

Pr 11:2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.

Pr 13:10 Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

Pr 14:6 A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding.

Pr 14:8 The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, But the foolishness of fools is deceit.

Pr 14:33 Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, But in the hearts of fools it is made known.

Pr 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.

Pr 16:16 How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.

Pr 17:16 Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, When he has no sense?

Pr 17:24 Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

Pr 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

Pr 21:30 There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the LORD.

Pr 23:23 Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

Pr 24:3 By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;

Pr 24:7 Wisdom is too exalted for a fool, He does not open his mouth in the gate.

Pr 24:14 Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; If you find it, then there will be a future, And your hope will not be cut off.

Pr 28:26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.

Pr 29:3 A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad, But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth.

Pr 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.

Pr 30:3 Neither have I learned wisdom, Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.

Pr 31:26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Some quotes on wisdom (from Complete Gathered Gold - John Blanchard - excellent resource)...

Knowledge leads us from the simple to the complex; wisdom leads us from the complex to the simple. - Anon.

True wisdom is a divine revelation. - George Barlow

Wisdom has never made a bigot, but learning has. - Josh Billings

Wisdom gives a balance to character. - John Blanchard

Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. - John Calvin

This is our wisdom, to be learners to the end. - John Calvin

To search for wisdom apart from Christ means not simply foolhardiness but utter insanity. - John Calvin

True wisdom consists in being wise according to the law of God. - John Calvin

Wisdom is not the growth of human genius. It must be sought from above. - John Calvin

Wisdom and the will of God are intimately related... Nothing is more vital for practical knowledge of the purpose of God than wisdom. - Sinclair Ferguson

Heavenly wisdom is better than worldly wealth, and to be preferred before it. - Matthew Henry

It is better to get wisdom than gold. Gold is another's, wisdom is our own; gold is for the body and time, wisdom for the soul and eternity. - Matthew Henry

Modesty is the badge of wisdom. - Matthew Henry

Such is the degeneracy of human nature that there is no true wisdom to be found with any but those who are born again and who, through grace, partake of the divine nature. -

Matthew Henry

He who has a constant longing for wisdom will persistently pray for it. - D. Edmond Hiebert

Surely the essence of wisdom is that before we begin to act at all, or attempt to please God, we should discover what it is that God has to say about the matter. - D. Martyn Lloyd Jones

Wisdom opens the eyes both to the glories of heaven and to the hollowness of earth.J. A. Motyer

Not until we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God's holiness and sovereignty... acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts, and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours. - J. I. Packer

Wisdom is God-centred. - Michael Parsons

Wisdom in ruling is justice; wisdom in speech is discretion; wisdom in conduct is prudence; wisdom in evaluation is discernment. - George Seevers

To know God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, is the highest principle and perfection of man. This attainment, infinitely above all others, constitutes true wisdom. -

Charles Simeon

We can be certain that God wants us to be wise, just as we are sure that he wants us not to sin. - R. C. Sproul

Conviction of ignorance is the doorstep to the temple of wisdom. - C. H. Spurgeon

The sublimity of wisdom is to do those things living which are to be desired when dying. - Jeremy Taylor

The wisest person in the world is the person who knows the most about God. - A. W. Tozer

The true test of wisdom is works, not words. - Curtis Vaughan

If the Lord Jesus Christ is a stranger to you, the best you can hope for is to become a philosopher, like Socrates of old. But apart from Christ there is no wisdom. - Spiros Zodhiates

Wisdom, the wisdom of God, is not something that is acquired by man, but something that is bestowed by God upon his elect. It is a divine endowment and not a human acquisition. - Spiros Zodhiates


BEYOND INFORMATION ("We wired and tired"!) - An investment company’s full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal began with these words: “Information is everywhere. Insight is all too rare. For insight goes beyond information to discern underlying truths.” Today, we are long on information and short on insight. Television offers scores of channels. Encyclopedias and world atlases are on compact disks (CDs) (Ed: Devotional written in 1996, but today information is [too] readily available on Internet = Wikipedia). Online databases give us the temperature in Hong Kong and the baseball score in Birmingham. We’re wired and tired from trying to grasp the meaning of all we know.

Years ago, a friend encouraged me to read a chapter from Proverbs each day. One chapter each day takes me through this marvelous book of God’s wisdom every month. “You can get knowledge in college,” my friend said, “but wisdom comes from God.” Here’s what Almighty God promises when we seek His wisdom: “If you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding...then you will...find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Pr. 2:3-6). One chapter of Proverbs every day. Try it this month and see how God’s Word will give you the wisdom to transform information into insight. -- David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread) (Ed: While the "One Chapter a Day" is commendable, I prefer one verse or one group of verses of Proverbs a day. That way your focus is not how much of the Word you get through but how much of the Word gets through you! You are much more likely to remember the smaller "bits and bytes" than an entire chapter. And Proverbs is one of those books that is like a gold mine shaft that needs to be worked to get the deep riches therein!)


Why would someone not want to be wise? (Pr. 1:7-note).

What happens to those who live foolishly? (Pr 1:31-32).

What are some benefits of wisdom? (Pr 1:33; 2:6-11).