The “Power” of Bible Knowledge

The aphorism “ scientai est potential” is translated as “Knowledge is power.” This phrase is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon. A related maxim, “sapientia est potential” is translated “Wisdom is power.” The saying implies that with knowledge or education, one’s potential or abilities to succeed will increase in life. Proverbs 24:5 reads: “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.” According to The American College Dictionary, the word “knowledge” denotes “the body of truths or facts accumulated by mankind in the course of time; understanding; erudition; scholarship; wisdom.” For generations in many cultures, demonstrating knowledge and wisdom has proved to be the basis for improving a person’s reputation and influence in society, thus, giving one power. In Western civilization, without a doubt, the wisdom of gleaned from Hebrew Scriptures has empowered many.

Joseph Benson (1749), an early English Methodist minister who was one of the leaders of the Methodist movement during the time of its founder John Wesley (1703) wrote in The Benson Commentary: “The very first, and indeed, the principle thing which is to be instilled into all men’s minds (without which they will make no progress) is true wisdom.” In ancient near Eastern cultures, such as Israel, “wisdom” was a way of viewing and approaching life. Instruction involved teaching the youth proper conduct and morality, along with equipping them both mentally and spiritually to answer the philosophical questions about the meaning of life. Old Testament wisdom on one level describes skilled arts and artisans, such as weavers in Exodus 35:25-26 and builders in Exodus 35:30-36. On the next level, wisdom pertains to keen insight about life and how to handle the problems of life. This was the kind of wisdom that Solomon sought (1 Kings 3:1-15; 1 Kings 4:32-34). The term “understanding” is synonymous to “wisdom” in speaking of Solomon. 

The terms “wisdom” and “wise” were used in ancient Israel to represent orderly, socially sensitive, and moral conduct. This was the highest opinion of wisdom in the Old Testament, especially as represented in the Book of Proverbs, which gives instruction on personal behavior to the young (e.g., Proverbs 22:6), as well as the proper way to treat one’s neighbor (Proverbs 24:29). In ancient Hebrew society, then, the primary goal of wisdom was to construct an orderly and functional society in accordance to the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai ( ). Though The Book of Proverbs does not mention the Mosaic law as a set code, the moral propositions of the Ten Commandments were underwritten in the Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Bible. (www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/wisdom).

One of the Bible’s most popular Scriptures is Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The psalmist is saying that respect, or a reverential awe, toward God is the beginning of understanding, but the foolish hate good instruction and discipline.