Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Where is wisdom?

I was attempting to preach from Proverbs 1 on Sunday, and have been particularly struck over the last few days by the speech of Wisdom in the latter part of the chapter.  Broadly speaking, I think these early chapter of Proverbs present us with three groups of people: the wise, who have knowledge and understanding (and also the awareness to know that they still need to learn more!); the simple (or the naive, or the young), who are not yet wise but are also not yet hardened in a life of folly- they are teachable, and have the potential to become wise; and the fools, who have decisively rejected wisdom and are living in their own way as they please.  The key difference between the groups - the thing which divides them - is the fear of the Lord.  To reverence and stand in awe of God and his word is the gateway to wisdom, a gateway through which the wise have already passed, before which the simple stand in indecision, and away from which the fools have contemptuously turned.

Wisdom's call is to both the simple and the foolish: those who have not yet begun to follow her, and those who have decisively turned away.  Both are called to turn and (re)consider the value of a wise life.  But Wisdom also holds out a stern warning for those who do not turn: there will come a time when they will seek wisdom and will not be able to find her.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
When disaster comes, foolish and simple alike will be asking 'where is wisdom?' - and the answer will be that she is laughing, mocking.  They would not have Wisdom on her terms, and now that they have finally come to see their need of her - too late! - they will not have her on any terms.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
The application to our national life and contemporary culture does not seem too difficult!

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