The Shoot, the Spirit, and Wisdom

By Mark D. Roberts

May 19, 2024

The Gift of Wisdom

Scripture — Isaiah 11:1-3 (NRSV)

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear.


Isaiah prophesied about a “shoot” that would come out from the “stump of Jesse,” the father of King David. Jesus was that shoot and therefore a king in the Davidic line. Upon him the Holy Spirit came in power, thus giving Jesus, among other things, divine wisdom. If we desire wisdom, therefore, we must pay attention to Jesus, to what he did and said. Moreover, we must ask the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom we need for the challenges in our lives.

Today’s devotion is part of the series The Gift of Wisdom.


Our Scripture passage today is most commonly read during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. It’s one of those Old Testament passages that points ahead in time to the “shoot” that shall come from the “stump of Jesse.” Jesse was the father of King David, so this verse anticipates the birth of another Davidic ruler, the one we know as Jesus of Nazareth.
Isaiah 11:1-3 is often read in conjunction with the singing of the Advent carol, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” The third verse says,

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

The word “rod” comes from the King James Version of the Bible, in which Isaiah 11:1 reads, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”

Verse two of this passage supplies more information about the “rod” or “shoot” of Jesse:

The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD (11:2).

Notice that the spirit, or as we would say, the Spirit of the Lord is pictured here as the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. This passage closely associates the Spirit of God with the Wisdom of God. When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit given in our conversion, we have direct access to God’s own Wisdom. Divine wisdom comes to us in various ways: through Scripture, through the community of God’s people, through reflection on experience, and as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

In last week’s Life for Leaders devotions, I wrote about how the Spirit gives us wisdom. Today we see, additionally, that the Spirit also supplies wisdom to the “rod” or “staff” of Jesse. Jesus himself had access to divine wisdom, not only because he was the unique Son of God, but also because the Holy Spirit came upon him on the occasion of his baptism (Luke 3:21-22).

In Isaiah 11, the close connection between the shoot, the Spirit, and wisdom reminds us that if we seek God’s wisdom, we should be open to the presence and working of God’s Spirit. Moreover, this passage suggests that if we want to know God’s wisdom, we should pay close attention to Jesus. His words and deeds reflect and reveal divine wisdom more truly than anything else in life.

I’ll have more to say about Jesus and wisdom in future devotions. For now, let me encourage you to reflect on this passage from Isaiah and what it stirs up in your mind and heart.


When you read about the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord, what speaks to your situation and need today? Which of these do you need the Spirit of God to give to you?

As you think about the life, work, and teachings of Jesus, does anything stand out to you as revealing God’s wisdom?


If you are facing a particularly challenging situation at work or home, at church, or in your community, ask the Holy Spirit to give you divine wisdom.


Gracious God, today I thank you for the “shoot” that came from the “stump of Jesse.” Thank you for Jesus, the true and ultimate Davidic King. Thank you that he is the King, not only of Israel, but of all creation. King of kings and Lord of lords . . . hallelujah!

Even as your Spirit once granted wisdom to Jesus, I ask, gracious God, that you do the same for me. May I be open to the working of your Spirit in my mind and heart. May I be given supernatural insight, not for my own glory, but so that I might walk in your ways and glorify you. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Peace and Prosperity (Isaiah 9ff.).

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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