Are You Wanting of Wisdom

“There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.” —C.H. Spurgeon


There’s an old story about a pompous young man who approached Socrates and declared, “O wise Socrates, I’ve come to you for wisdom!”

Socrates led the man out into a nearby body of water, and when they were chest deep, asked, “What is it you desire of me?”

“Wisdom,” the young man proudly replied.

With that, Socrates grabbed him by the shoulders and thrust him under the water. He held him down while he counted to 30, then raised him up asking, “What is it you want?”

“Wisdom,” sputtered the young man. Again, the philosopher dunked him, this time counting to 40.

Raised again, the teacher asked, “What is it you desire?”

“Wisdom,” the student choked.

This time Socrates held him under to a count of 50, then raised him again and asked, “What is it you want?”

“Air!” the desperate youth cried out.

Socrates smiled, “There you have it—wisdom!”

Wisdom isn’t an innate virtue. It’s acquired. One of the ways it’s acquired is through experience—as the repeatedly dunked young man illustrates. But for believers, there is a tremendous promise in the Bible to behold: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

God gave King Solomon an enormous blessing and responsibility—to lead the nation Israel, a people “as numerous as the dust of the earth.” Solomon was a smart guy. He knew enough to recognize his knowledge was insufficient. He prayed, “Give me wisdom, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10).

God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor … but for wisdom to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom will be given you” (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).

The weight of the task and his own want of wisdom drove King Solomon to his knees. And God responded. It’s a formula that works. Consider this testimony:

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of those about me seemed insufficient for the day.” —Abraham Lincoln

When overwhelmed by the weight of tasks at hand, the burden of outcomes unknown, and in recognition of our own want of wisdom for a given situation, what we need is readily available. Will we ask?


My prayer for this week—Lord, I give thanks for the roles and responsibilities you’ve called me to in this life. I especially give thanks for those things which drive me to my knees, in want of your wisdom. Will you grant me wisdom to meet my calling each day?