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Wisdom Personified

A Thought Experiment

When you think about wisdom, who is the first person that comes to mind? These kinds of thought experiments are fun, even though it is hard for me to say who the first person that comes to mind is. When I think of questions like this, it is like a list of options that scrolls through my head incredibly quickly and gets sorted. So, instead of only thinking of wise people, my mind lists people in general and sorts them into wise and unwise. Honestly, I am unsure if I could give a single person answer, outside of Christ, as to who is the wisest person I can think of. Many of the wisest people that come to mind are not people I have ever met. They are people like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, Thomas Watson, John Owen, and many more. So many have given me wisdom that singling out just one would be impossible. So what is the point of all this?

Wisdom Herself

As we dig into Proverbs, one of the interesting things is that Wisdom is talked about as a person, a personification, if you will. She is a woman who “Cries aloud in the streets.” (Proverbs 1:20, ESV) She stands “At the head of the noisy street” and “At the entrance to the city gates she speaks.” (Proverbs 1:21). So not only is Wisdom portrayed as a woman, but she is portrayed as an outspoken woman. The point is that wisdom is not something that is far off from us, nor is it something that is hidden. There are people around us who have wisdom to share with us, and God's wisdom in creation is on full display. Wisdom is the greatest of prizes and is something that should be desired above all else. In a previous part of Proverbs, we saw that the fear of the Lord was the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. Here, we see that wisdom calls to us, but few listen.

Work Required

When the writer of Proverbs, who I believe was Solomon, gets to 1:22, wisdom asks a question. Her question differs from the one I asked at the beginning of this post. The purpose of that question is to make you think. It is open-ended and has any number of answers. The goal is to get you to think about the people around you and who influence your life. Other questions, such as the ones you are asked on a test, serve the purpose of finding what you know. The question that wisdom asks is not one of those types of questions. This question is an accusation. “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?” (Proverbs 1:22). It is a two-fold accusation. We are simple, and we like being simple. Something we have to face is that it is far more likely for us to do what is comfortable or easy over what is wise. Growing in wisdom is difficult. It requires time and study. It requires admitting that you need a lot of work and then doing it.

Blind and Deaf

Looking at this section as a whole, the passage starts with the idea that wisdom, personified as a woman, cries out in the street. Put simply, she can be known because she is constantly making herself known. Our consciences continuously bear witness to God's existence and to the fact that his wisdom is made known by his law, which is written on our hearts. We all have a sense of right and wrong. We have a sense of oughtness. To quote C.S. Lewis, "Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it." (Mere Christianity) There are things that we believe we ought to do or not do. One of the clearest examples of this is that we know we ought not to murder. And yet, with all this, the witness of our consciences, the clear evidence of God’s creative work, far too many want to remain in ignorance.

Seek Wisdom

Wisdom should be something that we are continually seeking to grow in, especially if we claim to be Christians. It starts with the fear of the Lord and continues to grow as we spend time in his word. We use the teachers that the Lord has given to his church throughout the church's history. Men, like the ones I mentioned at the start of this post. Each one of these men, and many like them, have a lot to teach us as they point us back to God’s word as the fount of all wisdom. Seek wisdom. Proverbs says that those who hate knowledge choose not to fear the Lord, "But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster." (Proverbs 1:33). Are we going to be people who choose wisdom, that decide to listen to her call and seek after her?

If my compass always points to the north, I know how to use it. But if it veers to other points of the compass, and I am to judge out of my own mind whether it is right or not, I am as well without the thing as with it. If my Bible is right always, it will lead me right, and as I believe it so, I shall follow it. - Barbed Arrows from the Quiver of C.H.

Soli Deo Gloria

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