Making Better Use of Concordance & Finding the True Meaning of Words

What are the differences among the similar words like wisdom, understanding, and knowledge? What are their definitions from the Bible? The right way to use concordance will show you.
Because we don't understand the original languages of the Bible, we have to rely on concordances to get a better understanding of the original words. However, the true meaning of the words in the original language is difficult to know for foreigner despite the concordances. This is because concordances give many similar words, more like a thesaurus rather than a good definitive dictionary.

Let take an example Proverb 2:2-3,5 in KJV+

Pro 2:2  So that thou inclineH7181 thine earH241 unto wisdomH2451. and applyH5186 thine heartH3820 to understandingH8394;
Pro 2:3  Yea, H3588 ifH518 thou criestH7121 after knowledgeH998 and liftest upH5414 thy voiceH6963 for understandingH8394
Pro 2:5  ThenH227 shalt thou understandH995 the fearH3374 of the LORDH3068, and findH4672 the knowledgeH1847 of GodH430.

Here we can find the original Hebrew words for wisdom, knowledge, understanding used and look up Strong's Concordance for their meanings:

wisdom H2451 חָכְמָה chokmâh khok-maw'
From H2449; wisdom (in a good sense): - skillful, wisdom, wisely, wit.

understanding H8394 תּוֹבֻנָה    תְּבוּנָה    תָּבוּןo tâbûn    tebûnâh    tôbûnâh
taw-boon', teb-oo-naw', to-boo-naw'
The second and third forms being feminine; from H995; intelligence; by implication an argument; by extension caprice: - discretion, reason, skilfulness, understanding, wisdom.

knowledge H998 בִּינָה bı̂ynâh bee-naw'
From H995; understanding: - knowledge, meaning, X perfectly, understanding, wisdom.

knowledge H1847 דַּעַת da‛ath dah'-ath
From H3045; knowledge: - cunning, [ig-] norantly, know(-ledge), [un-] awares (wittingly).

You can see from the above that understanding, wisdom, knowledge and other similar words were used interchangeably and thereby losing their precise meanings.

So, what do we differentiate wisdom, understanding, and knowledge?

Use the Context - Where Used:

To understand the exact meaning of the words, we shall invert the process, and find the verses where that particular words are used. Using the different contexts where the same word is found, we can infer a more exact meaning for the word.

Let take a simple one, the word knowledge H1847.

H1847 דּעת da‛ath  Total KJV Occurrences: 93

knowledge, 82

  • Gen_2:9, Gen_2:17, Exo_31:3, Exo_35:31, Num_24:16, Job_15:2, Job_21:14, Job_21:22, Job_33:3, Job_34:35, Job_35:16, Job_36:12, Job_42:2-3 (2), Psa_19:2, Psa_94:10, Psa_119:66, Psa_139:6, Pro_1:4, Pro_1:7, Pro_1:22, Pro_1:29, Pro_2:5-6 (2), Pro_2:10, Pro_3:20, Pro_5:2, Pro_8:9-10 (2), Pro_8:12, Pro_9:10, Pro_10:14, Pro_11:9, Pro_12:1, Pro_12:23, Pro_13:16, Pro_14:6-7 (2), Pro_14:18, Pro_15:2, Pro_15:7, Pro_15:14, Pro_17:27, Pro_18:15 (2), Pro_19:2, Pro_19:25, Pro_19:27, Pro_20:15, Pro_22:11-12 (2), Pro_22:17, Pro_22:20, Pro_23:12, Pro_24:4-5 (2), Pro_30:3, Ecc_1:16, Ecc_1:18, Ecc_2:21, Ecc_2:26, Ecc_7:12, Ecc_9:10, Ecc_12:9, Isa_5:13, Isa_11:2, Isa_32:4, Isa_33:6, Isa_40:14, Isa_44:19, Isa_44:25, Isa_53:10-11 (2), Jer_10:14, Jer_51:17, Dan_12:4 (2), Hos_4:1, Mal_2:6-7 (4)

know, 4

  • Job_13:2, Pro_29:7, Isa_58:2, Jer_22:16

unwittingly, 2

  • Jos_20:3, Jos_20:5

cunning, 1

  • 1Ki_7:14

ignorantly, 1

  • Deu_19:4

knew, 1

  • Isa_48:4 (2)

knowest, 1
unawares, 1

  • Deu_4:42

We can read a few verses where "knowledge" is used and infer the meaning. The meaning seems to be "knowing some things such as good and evil and facts". What is more interesting and fruitful is to look up the verses where the meanings seem to be in conflict with the earlier ones.


unwittingly, 2

  • Jos_20:3 That the slayerH7523 that killethH5221 any personH5315 unawaresH7684 and unwittinglyH1097 H1847 may fleeH5127 thither:H8033 and they shall beH1961 your refugeH4733 from the avengerH4480 H1350 of blood.H1818

    Here we find H1097 with Knowledge H1847. We look up H1097
    H1097 בְּלִי belı̂y bel-ee' From H1086; properly failure, that is, nothing or destruction; usually (with preposition) without, not yet, because not, as long as, etc.: - corruption, ig[norantly], for lack of, where no . . . is, so that no, none, not, un[awares], without.

    It is without. Using together, it means without the knowledge or unknowingly.
    It confirms our initial understanding of knowledge as "knowing something"
  • We can find such in ignorantly, unawares etc.

1Ki 7:14  HeH1931 was a widow'sH490 sonH1121 of the tribeH4480 H4294 of Naphtali,H5321 and his fatherH1 was a manH376 of Tyre,H6876 a workerH2790 in brass:H5178 and he was filledH4390 withH854 wisdom,H2451 and understanding,H8394 and cunningH1847 to workH6213 allH3605 worksH4399 in brass.H5178 And he cameH935 toH413 kingH4428 Solomon,H8010 and wroughtH6213 (H853) allH3605 his work.H4399

Here we see wisdom, understanding and cunning being used to describe the person. So, the 3 words, know similar, are actually 3 different strengths that the worker has. Their meaning should be different. The word cunning is not a bad word in this context but rather a deep knowledge of the skill of brass processing. It is skill knowledge.

What then is understanding and how does it differ from wisdom?

Understanding H8394

understanding, 38

  • Exo 31:3  And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 
  • Exo_35:31, Exo_36:1, Deu_32:28, 
  • 1Ki 4:29  And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore. 
  • 1Ki_7:14, 
  • Job 12:12  With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. Job 12:13  With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding. 
  • Job_26:12, 
  • Psa_49:3, 
  • Psa_147:5, Pro_2:2-3 (2), Pro_2:6, Pro_2:11, Pro_3:13, Pro_3:19, Pro_8:1 (2), Pro_10:23, Pro_11:12, Pro_14:29, Pro_15:21, Pro_17:27, Pro_18:2, Pro_19:8, Pro_20:5, Pro_21:30, Pro_24:3, Pro_28:16, 
  • Isa 40:14  With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? 
  • Isa_40:28, Isa_44:19, 
  • Jer 51:15  He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.  
  • Eze 28:4  With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: 
  • Hos 13:2  And now they sin more and more and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. 
  • Oba 1:7  All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him. Oba 1:8  Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? 

discretion, 1

  • Jer 10:12  He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion

reasons, 1

  • Job 32:11  Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say. 

skillfulness, 1

  • Psa 78:72  So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands. 

wisdom, 1

  • Psa_136:5 - by 'wisdom' makes the heavens.

We can see that understanding is about making, creating, reasoning, guiding and teaching. It is one level higher than knowledge. It is the application of knowledge of facts & principles to make and invent things.

What then is wisdom?

H2451 chokmâh Total KJV Occurrences: 149
wisdom, 145
  • Exo_31:3 (3), Exo_31:6, Exo_35:26, Exo_35:31, Exo_35:35, Exo_36:1-2 (2), 
  • Deu 4:6  Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
  • Deu_34:9, 
  • 2Sa 14:20  He did it to place the matter before you in a different light. But you are as wise as an angel of God, and you understand everything that happens among us!"
    In the context, the lady was appealing to King David to give and do the right things.
  •  2Sa_20:22, 1Ki_2:6, 1Ki_4:28-30 (5), 1Ki_4:34 (2), 1Ki_5:12, 1Ki_7:14, 1Ki_10:4, 1Ki_10:6-8 (3), 1Ki_10:23-24 (2), 1Ki_11:41, 2Ch_1:10-12 (3), 2Ch_9:3, 2Ch_9:5-7 (3), 2Ch_9:22-23 (2), Job_4:21, Job_11:6, Job_12:2, Job_12:12-13 (2), Job_13:5, Job_15:8, Job_26:3, Job_28:12, Job_28:18, Job_28:20, Job_28:28, Job_32:7, Job_32:13, Job_33:33, Job_38:36-37 (2), Job_39:17, 
  • Psa 37:30  The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. 
  • Psa_51:6, Psa_90:12, Psa_104:24, 
  • Psa 111:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.  
  • Pro_1:2, Pro_1:7, Pro_2:2, Pro_2:6, Pro_2:10, Pro_3:13, Pro_3:19, Pro_4:5, Pro_4:7 (2), Pro_4:11, Pro_5:1, Pro_7:4, Pro_8:1, Pro_8:11-12 (2), Pro_9:10, Pro_10:13, Pro_10:23, 
  • Pro 10:31  The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out. 
  • Pro_11:2, 
  • Pro 13:10  Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. 
  • Pro_14:6, Pro_14:8, Pro_15:33 (2), Pro_17:16 (2), Pro_17:24, Pro_18:4, Pro_21:30, Pro_23:23, Pro_24:3, Pro_24:14, Pro_29:3, Pro_29:15, Pro_30:3, Pro_31:26, Ecc_1:13, Ecc_1:16-18 (4), Ecc_2:3, Ecc_2:9, Ecc_2:12-13 (2), Ecc_2:21, Ecc_2:26, Ecc_7:11-12 (3), Ecc_7:19, Ecc_7:23, Ecc_7:25, Ecc_8:1, Ecc_8:16, Ecc_9:10, Ecc_9:13, Ecc_9:15-16 (3), Ecc_9:18, Ecc_10:1, Ecc_10:10, Isa_10:13, Isa_11:2, Isa_29:14, Isa_33:6, Isa_47:10, Jer_8:9, Jer_9:23, Jer_10:12, Jer_49:7 (2), 
  • Jer 51:15  He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.
    The world was decided to be built by wisdom(decided, judged) and stretched out by understanding (know how)
  • Eze_28:4-5 (2), Eze_28:7, Eze_28:12, 
  • Eze 28:17  Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
    This was a description of Satan. Corrupted widsom= Evil. 
  • Dan_1:20
wisely, 2
  • Pro_28:26, Ecc_7:10
skilful, 1
  • 1Ch 28:21  And, behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skillful man, for any manner of service: also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment. 
wit’s, 1
  • Psa 107:27  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
    i.e. Lack the wisdom to do the right thing.
We can see that "wisdom" is related to judgment, just, right and wrong, commandments, and the opposite of wisdom is evilness. So wisdom is about knowing right and wrong and deciding and doing the right things.


Knowledge is about knowing things(such as their properties and behaviors) and facts. It is about what. What happened?

Understanding is about knowing the working, and reasoning, of things and is the application of knowledge to make and create new things. It is knowing how. It is the interpretation and use of knowledge.

Wisdom is about the discernment of right and wrong and the application understanding and knowledge to do the right things and the right time to the right people. Just, right, fair, are the consideration of wisdom.

So to understand any particular word, we should study all the verses where the word was used and find the best fit and the meaning for all the verses. 

One keyword is grace, and it is misunderstood widely by people with good intention. Let see what the true meaning is in "Grace is Unmerited Favor" - This Common Definition is wrong.

Lim Liat (c) 14 Jan 2018

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