Saturday, February 04, 2006

Proverbs 8:1-21: Wisdom's Shout Out (part one)

1 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 humankind.

5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.

6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.

7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.

8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.

9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are upright to those who have found knowledge.

10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,

11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

12 "I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.

13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.

14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have insight, I have power.

15 By me kings reign
and rulers issue decrees that are just;

16 by me princes govern,
and nobles—all who rule on earth.

17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.

18 With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.

19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.

20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,

21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
and making their treasuries full.

(For some good scholarly input and application to this passage and book, see Paul E. Koptak, The NIV Application Commentary: Proverbs, seminal with the scriptural text to my words here.)

Wisdom is personified as a lady who is calling out from a place where she can be heard by all. She invites her listeners to first pay attention to, consider, take in and integrate her words into their lives. Her words are themselves worthy. The wisdom and knowledge in them are worth more than worldly wealth. They are trustworthy and right.

Her (Wisdom's) words help us get on the right path. In doing so, we find that Wisdom is walking alongside with us. Notice that Wisdom is upfront and forthright about what she is saying. Unlike the wayward woman who, in Proverbs, stealthily manipulates and misleads her victims so that they go to their destruction, Wisdom speaks the truth, yes, in a winsome, persuasive manner. But nevertheless the truth. And Wisdom herself walks in that truth.

By her counsel those in authority rule. This counsel is applicable to us all. We are often responsible in some way to those we are teaching or supervising, or at least by our example, and when children come, certainly to them. And in our neighborhoods, to show the goodness of uprightness in our relationships to others. Wisdom is relational in her call and concern. It's not about some absract truth. It's all about our relationships with people, and how we live. This is clear in the passage and throughout the Bible.

Notice in Wisdom's summons that all have hope. She calls out to the simple and foolish. If they listen and begin to reconsider their ways, the beginning of wisdom in their lives can be the end of their foolish way of life. They learn to love wisdom and hate all that is opposed to it.

Wisdom's call means to choose her and her way over money and material wealth. That is clear and must be one's attitude always. At the same time it's not as if what is needed at least, and perhaps wealth besides, won't come. It's a wealth that, unlike that gained by fools- will last. With it one is to do good to others (as kings were to do, considered then to be "shepherds"; and as we see from Scripture- example, 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Galatians 6:9-10). And enjoying God's creation and his gifts as well.

Wisdom calls. Do we hear? Are we listening? If we think we are doing so already, has it made a difference in our lives? And are we continuing to listen daily?

Lord, Help us to hear you, in this call. Let us walk in the way of wisdom. Let us see the blessing, in the way of wisdom, to ourselves and to others. Amen.

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