Taking God’s Wisdom to Heart

Yael Eckstein  |  December 10, 2021

Cut out red heart in the middle of two hands cupped together.

One who gets wisdom loves his own soul;
One who keeps understanding will find good.
— Proverbs 19:8 (NASB)

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

I heard a story once that I want to share with you. I’m not sure if the story is true, but I know the message is.

There was an ethics professor who was caught engaging in immoral and criminal behavior. And it wasn’t just a single moment of weakness. This professor, who taught hundreds of students every year about how to be ethical and moral, was living an unethical life away from the public eye.

When it was finally discovered that his life was anything but ethical, he was arrested for criminal activity and confronted by a journalist. “How can you, a professor of ethics, explain how your own behavior is so inconsistent with what you teach in the classroom?” The professor looked at the journalist and shrugged his shoulders. He replied, “If I was a professor of geometry, would you expect me to be a triangle?”

What this professor was saying was that how he thought and the way he behaved were completely separate. His self-destructive and immoral behavior led to a life of ruin despite his expertise in the philosophy of ethics.

Taking God’s Wisdom to Heart

In Proverbs we read that “one who gets wisdom loves his own soul.” The Hebrew word for “wisdom” here is lev, which also means “heart.” In the Bible, there are two words for wisdom. When the Bible speaks of intellectual wisdom, the word is chochma. But when the Bible uses the word lev, it is speaking about a different kind of wisdom.

We usually think of the heart as the source of feelings, not wisdom. But the Bible teaches us that when wisdom enters our hearts, when wisdom is not merely ideas in our heads, but is really taken into our hearts, it becomes a part of who we are.

Unless the wisdom we know to be true enters our hearts, we haven’t really acquired it. As Proverbs teaches, “One who gets wisdom loves his own soul.”

When we take the ideas that we know are true and good to heart, so that they are not just abstract ideas, we protect our souls from harmful and immoral tendencies. Taking God’s wisdom to heart shows that we love our souls, that we are guarding the spirit that God has given us.

Your Turn:

What are some ideals and ideas that you may need to take to heart? Ask God for wisdom to do that!