Wisdom is an attribute that takes a while to develop…and some people never seem to quite gain it, sadly. But just what is wisdom and how do we communicate it to children? Being able to discern right from wrong and understand positive decisions is important but not easy to achieve. This lesson seeks to shed some light onto the topic and make it applicable to a range of ages. It will also provide insight into how to gain and maintain wisdom.
Age Range: Elementary ages (adaptable for older or younger)
Materials Required: Small cups, paper towel tubes or clothes hangers, yarn, marbles or small stones, Ziplock bags, dollar bill, markers
Scripture Reference: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Opening: What would you do? Start off with a Solomon-inspired dilemma…bring two students up and mention that you have a dollar for whoever wins a rock/paper/scissors tournament. Purposely allow students to tie and suggest that the dollar be split. Make a move as though to tear the dollar in half (or if you’re willing for a big reaction, really rip it! *Not advocated by U.S. Treasury…). Then provide a brief re-cap of the tale in Solomon, to introduce who He was…see if students have any background knowledge of the wise king and discuss his role and what he did for Biblical writings. Explain that we will be talking about wisdom today. What is wisdom? Take some discussion and answers for what wisdom is.
Present students with a few scenarios that might require discernment. Vary according to age and group setting, but make things lively…some (younger) situations might be simple:
“you saw someone cheating…should you tell?”
“You promised to keep a secret but found out someone is going to do something bad. Do you keep the promise or help?”
Other scruples might bring up tougher possibilities: “In order to pay the bills, you have to work for a company that sometimes lies. Is this okay?”
“If a woman’s life is in danger, is abortion excused?”
Get kids talking and thinking about what wisdom requires and means.
Lesson: After the wisdom conversation opener, launch into examination of the passage. Note that the Proverbs passages used here indicate wisdom represented by a woman. The personification element can be explored with older students, but may be somewhat too abstract for younger audiences. For the younger crew, focus more on the story of Solomon and what wisdom is.
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind. –Proverbs 8:1-4
What is wisdom? Does it mean the same as “smart”? Take a moment to peek at some dictionary definitions of the word…
“having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.”
“characterized by or showing such power; judicious or prudent:”
“possessed of or characterized by scholarly knowledge or learning;learned; erudite:”
Basically, it is being able to make decisions and know what might be best in a situation. But the wisdom of God is a bit more than that…Biblical wisdom involves an element of true care and love:
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18
This means that Heavenly wisdom is more than just good decisions or powerful influence. Consider how the book of Proverbs personifies wisdom, acting as if it were a woman:
“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,[c][d]
before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly[e] at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.
This passage indicates that wisdom is a part of God. It is an attribute of His character that cannot be separated from Him. Therefore, if we are truly devoted to God, rooted in Him, praying to Him, we will naturally have wisdom. It will aid us not only in making choices but also in how we act toward others and live our lives in general. And just like Solomon, if we ask the Lord for guidance and wisdom, He will provide.
Craft: Decision helper mobile…Explain that sometimes we make choices based on pros and cons of a decision…to help, we are going to create a helper. Have students attach small cups to a clothes hanger or paper towel tube, using string or yarn. In the center (or separately), provide a Ziplock bag of marbles, gems, or craft stones (of equal weight). Allow students to decorate as desired. Explain that when they are faced with a tough choice, they are first to pray, and then pull out the mobile. Assign an option to each cup and think about the different sides of the decision. They can place stones in one side or the other and see which one “weighs” more and tips the balance. Hey, if nothing else, it’s fun to have a visual. And marbles…
Attach a caption to the craft with the memory verse:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Close with prayer, thanking God for His wisdom and asking that He would bless us with the richness of discernment.