How do we measure the wisdom of a people?
The answers throughout history are clear. Among other things, we measure the wisdom of a nation by its decisions, its interaction with other nations, and the wisdom of its leaders.
How is the wisdom of a nation noticed in the Bible?
A Near God and a Righteous Law
In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is giving a preamble to his second telling of the law. He calls the people to listen to and keep God’s commands (verse 1). They must not add to or subtract from these commandments; this is necessary for their obedience (verse 2). And this law should be kept when they go into the land they are about to possess (verse 5).
Moses goes on to predict how the surrounding nations will react to Israel when they move into the land. When they observe the people keeping the law, they will see that “this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (verse 6).
Why is this? Moses gives two reasons.
- “What great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” (Deut 4:7)
- “What great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” (Deut 4:8)
God’s people will be seen as wise because God is so near and his laws are so righteous. These two points come together in the subsequent passage (Deut 4:9–14) where Moses recounts the giving of the law, when God brought the people close (see verses 10–11) at Mount Sinai.
Christ Our Wisdom
In the church, many think the way to wisdom is to impress. Gather the scholars and experts, open the doors, and good teaching will flow through the land.
But now, as always, the wisdom of God’s people is rooted in God himself. We know, after all, that Christ “became to us wisdom from God” (1 Cor 10:30).
If we want to be wise, we must look to the Word made flesh, who now lives in his people through his Spirit. Think of it: God has never been nearer to his people than he is right now.
If we want to be wise, we must also look to the Word of God. Jesus fulfilled the good, righteous law of God for us, and he now empowers us to obey. The law of God is anchored in love for God and love for our neighbors, so it is no surprise that our humble obedience will point our neighbors to the source of all wisdom.