January 8, 2015
Proverbs 8:1-11 (read the whole chapter)
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
“To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.
Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
To the discerning all of them are right;
they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Some are asking why I am not dealing with the “Seductress” we saw in yesterday’s text. The short answer? The text said I should run from her so that’s what I’m doing.
I do find it interesting the way today’s text personifies wisdom as a woman and in stark contrast to the woman of Proverbs 6 and 7, a.k.a. “the Temptress.” We need to remember the bigger context of these first several chapters of Proverbs. Most all of them begin, “My Son.” These first chapters served as a type of training manual to be used with one’s sons. It makes sense that a Father would want his son to run from the “Temptress.” As well, it makes sense that a Father would want his son to run after wisdom as though she were a beautiful and noble woman.
Also interesting is the way these contrasting figures both make their appeal in the public eye. Temptation is so often visually driven, approaching through one’s eyes. Wisdom works through words, calling out to attract one’s ears. Wisdom is not hidden but she must be heard. We see an interesting interplay between seeing and hearing in Genesis 3, where everything went south for us.
Back in Proverbs 2:2 we see the admonition to “make your ear attentive to wisdom.” (NASB). The New Living Translation renders the verse it this way: “Tune your ears to wisdom.” It is as though we must cultivate an “ear” for wisdom. We must listen for Wisdom with an expectation of hearing and receiving it. Wisdom requires a posture of listening. We might even say wisdom comes to those who listen. Those who listen have an expectation of hearing something. Listening, without doubt, is the single most underrated skill in life.
Today’s text couldn’t be more clear. We see that Wisdom, “calls out,” “raises her voice,” and “cries aloud.” Wisdom constantly beckons for our attention, yet if we are not listening, we will not hear. If Wisdom were obvious we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Wisdom stands in the public square, clearly visible, yet somehow easily missed. We must “tune” our ears to Wisdom. How do we do that?
We get an instructive word from James in the New Testament.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:5-8
Wisdom comes to those with the audacity to ask, the boldness to expect and the humility to listen.
So I ask you (and me): Are we asking? Are we expecting? Are we listening? Wisdom always awaits those with ears to hear. She’s always right there.
If you’ve got an extra three minutes, this short list on the benefits of listening is worth your time. It’s from Tom Peters, one of the foremost American thinkers on business leadership and management.
I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 9.
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