Those who trust in themselves are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
Although it’s hard to admit, there is actually a right distrust of ourselves. We want the opposite to be true. We want to be trustworthy in ourselves. We want it to be true, and, led astray in this wish, we’re bolstered by the messages around us. Our culture says, ‘Trust yourself’, ‘believe in yourself.’ Our culture says, ‘Look within,’ to find truth.
In reality, however, wisdom isn’t found within, but comes from without. The first line of the proverbs puts wisdom-found-within myth to rest. It poses another paradigm. Wisdom is external to us, not internal. The proverb flips ‘proverbial wisdom’ and says that ‘we need to be in wisdom’. That is, us-in-wisdom rather than wisdom-in-us. The result is that the way we receive wisdom is not by looking within, but by being ‘in’ it ourselves. As the proverb says, we ‘walk in wisdom’. In this sense wisdom is not internal (not in us) but we need to become internal to wisdom.
Wisdom can still become internal, but that doesn’t happen till we are internal to wisdom (walking in wisdom). Even then, wisdom still will remain external. We will always be dependent on God and others for wisdom, for walking in wisdom. The outcome of this way of wisdom is that the wise person knows they remain dependent on God and others for wisdom, even while seeming to possess an ‘internal’ wisdom themselves.