Original Research - Special Collection: Biblical Theological investigations into the attribute of Gods wisdom

God’s gift of wisdom in words, actions, and practical skills

Robin Gallaher Branch
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3062 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3062 | © 2024 Robin Gallaher Branch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 January 2024 | Published: 30 April 2024

About the author(s)

Robin Gallaher Branch, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa; and, Department of Religion and Theology, Faculty of Religion, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee, United States


This article examined wisdom, a godly attribute, as a gift God gives. The gift takes at least three forms: skill in wise words, skill in subsequent actions, and skill with one’s hands. Bystanders and readers easily spot wisdom. This article found that wisdom grew and was refined through use. Employing a canonical approach and a literary methodology, this article presented selected Hebrew Bible characters who broadly illustrated God’s gift of wisdom in words and actions; it then considered two men and a group of women who were skilled – wise – with their hands. Four biblical characters noted for wise speech and actions include Joseph, the dream-interpreter and second to Pharaoh as Egypt’s ruler (Gn 41:37–41); the Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah, a city’s arbitrator during a siege (2 Sm 20:14–22); Solomon, David’s successor, who asked God for an understanding mind and received wisdom (1 Ki 3:9–12); and Daniel, a Judean exile in Babylon who sought God’s wisdom in a life-and-death situation (Dn 2:19–23). A fifth character, Lady Wisdom (a most interesting persona), teaches that wisdom is not only a gift but also a learned skill. In an ‘Elevator Pitch’ proclaimed loudly in a city’s streets, she invites passers-by to come to her banquet, learn from her, and become wise (Pr 8–9). God’s wisdom also abounded in practical, tactile ways. God gave Bezalel and Oholiab wisdom in crafting furnishings for the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (Ex 31:1–11); wise-hearted women participated as spinners (Ex 35:25–26). This article concluded that whether given as word, action, or skill or learned via study or practiced manually, all wisdom’s forms come from the bountiful Giver, and require a recipient’s maintenance, namely the lifelong pattern of seeking God and walking in his ways (Pr 2). Wise choices in friends, words, and actions result in blessing the learner and subsequently promoting a society’s well-being. Wisdom ripples.

Contribution: Through the lens of Old Testament character studies, this article illustrated aspects of God’s gift of wisdom. Stories showed how individuals sought, practiced, and developed wisdom. While wisdom initially met a need, saved a life, or led a nation, it overflowed from the one singularly known as wise to others. However, a condition applied. Wisdom is not inherited; all seekers must learn that wisdom’s objective, like all God’s gifts, is God’s glory.


Wisdom; Joseph; Solomon; Daniel; Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah; Lady Wisdom Bezalel; Oholiab

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