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The virtue of wis­dom dif­fers from knowl­edge in that wis­dom is nor­mal­ly under­stood as the imme­di­ate insight into things, the prac­ti­cal under­stand­ing and grasp­ing of what is true and right in its liv­ing expres­sion and form. The wise man is the one who sees clear­ly and deeply into the mys­ter­ies of God. He is the one who can give con­crete advice in the every­day affairs of life, the one who can point out the will of God to man who is con­front­ed by actu­al prob­lems and deci­sions. He is the one, who like Jesus, knows not only what is in God, but “what is in man.” (Cf John 2:25)

In the Old Tes­ta­ment, a whole body of lit­er­a­ture devel­oped con­cern­ing the theme of divine wis­dom. (See Book 3, Bible and Church His­to­ry) The Psalms, Proverbs and oth­er wis­dom writ­ings such as Eccle­si­astes, and the Wis­dom of Solomon and Jesus, Son of Sir­ach show clear­ly what wis­dom is, and what it is to be wise.

Does not wis­dom call, does not under­stand­ing raise her voice?

On the heights beside the way, in the paths she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the por­tals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the sons of men. O sim­ple ones, learn pru­dence; O fool­ish men, pay atten­tion. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right; for my mouth will utter truth; wicked­ness is an abom­i­na­tion to my lips.

All the words of my mouth are right­eous; there is noth­ing twist­ed or crooked in them.

They are all straight to him who under­stands and right to those who find knowledge.

Take my instruc­tion instead of sil­ver, and knowl­edge rather than choice gold; for wis­dom is bet­ter than jew­els, and all that you may desire can­not com­pare with her.

I, wis­dom, dwell in pru­dence, and I rind knowl­edge and discretion.

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.

Pride and arro­gance and the way of evil and per­vert­ed speech I hate.

I have coun­sel and sound wis­dom, I have insight, I have strength.” (Proverbs 8:1–14)

In the New Tes­ta­ment, divine wis­dom is found in Jesus Christ, who is Him­self, “the wis­dom of God.” (I Corinthi­ans 1:24)

… among the mature we do impart wis­dom, although it is not a wis­dom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hid­den wis­dom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glo­ri­fi­ca­tion. None of the rulers of this age under­stood this; for if they had, they would not have cru­ci­fied the Lord of Glo­ry. But, as it is writ­ten, “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor heart of man con­ceived, what God has pre­pared for those who love Him” (Isa­iah 64:4, 65:17) God has revealed to us through the Spir­it. (…) And we impart this in words not taught by human wis­dom, but taught by the Spir­it, inter­pret­ing spir­i­tu­al truths to those who pos­sess the Spir­it. (I Corinthi­ans 2:6–15)

In the holy Scrip­tures, the Spir­it of the Lord is called “the spir­it of wis­dom and under­stand­ing, the spir­it of coun­sel and might, the spir­it of knowl­edge and the fear of the Lord.” (Isa­iah 11:2) It is this Spir­it that the Lord gives to those who believe in Him.

For God has made known to us in all wis­dom and insight the mys­tery of His will, accord­ing to His pur­pose which He set forth in Christ, as a plan for the full­ness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heav­en and things on earth.

For this reason…I do not cease to give thanks for you, remem­ber­ing you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glo­ry, may give you a spir­it of wis­dom and of rev­e­la­tion in the knowl­edge of Him, hav­ing the eyes of your hearts enlight­ened, that you may know the hope to which He has called you, what are the rich­es of His glo­ri­ous inher­i­tance in the saints, and what is the immea­sur­able great­ness of His pow­er in us who believe…

For this rea­son I, Paul have writ­ten… to make all men see what is the plan of the mys­tery hid­den for ages in God who cre­at­ed all things; that through the church the man­i­fold wis­dom of God might now be made known… (Eph­esians 1:9–10,19–19,3:1–10)

In the Church, as Saint Paul says, the divine wis­dom is giv­en to the spir­i­tu­al per­son. The wise man, who pos­sess­es the Spir­it of God, can show forth the “knowl­edge of sal­va­tion to His peo­ple… to give light to those who sit in dark­ness and in the shad­ow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:77–79) The oppo­site of divine wis­dom is sin­ful fool­ish­ness which brings man to calami­ty, sor­row, ruin and death. (Cf. Proverbs 10–14) In the spir­i­tu­al life of the Church, it is the wise men, the spir­i­tu­al mas­ters and saint­ly teach­ers, who have gained divine wis­dom and so are made com­pe­tent to direct and guide the des­tiny of men’s immor­tal souls. It is for this rea­son that all men should sub­mit them­selves to their instruc­tion and rule.