Faith and Family Business: A Little-Recognized Benefit of Wisdom

By Bill Long on February 23, 2016

     For the Book of Proverbs, the benefits of wisdom are clear and numerous. The wise person learns practical skills, such as discernment and good judgment; he or she knows how to act with “righteousness, justice and equity” (1:3). Indeed, such a person knows “every good path” (2:8). Who wouldn’t sign up?

     But overlooked in all of these is a cryptic verse that opens up an entirely new realm to wisdom’s scope. “The purposes in the human mind are like deep water, but the intelligent will draw them out” (20:5). Though the meaning of the first words isn’t completely clear, the dominant reading is that “purposes of the human mind” are the often confused and tangled reflections which constitute human uncertainty regarding the complexities of life. These purposes are like “deep water”—unfathomable, inaccessible, unclear and potentially dangerous. In other words, the first half of the verse describes what we might call the tangled, confused and often murky information “out there” that is often connected with conflicting, and often evil, impulses of the human heart.

     Confronted with this kind of reality, the “intelligent person” or “person of understanding” will “draw them out.” The metaphor of “drawing” is often used in Scripture as a way of describing the process of salvation. “God drew me up from the desolate pit” (Ps. 40:2); “O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol” (Ps. 30:3).

     The point, in a nutshell, is that the wise person can develop the very rare ability to perceive the tangled complexity of life, and “draw it up” to the surface, where it is subject to the light of wisdom, and the examination by others. The person of wisdom can clarify deep and complex issues—and that is a benefit worth pursuing in your family and business every day.