Tag Archives: wisdom

A Proverbial Word/ Wisdom Leads to Life, Foolishness to Death


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As you read the following verses from 1st Proverbs, think about the last time you wanted to find something out.  Did you go to Google or another search engine?  We seek information, but that is not the same as wisdom.  According to this poem in Proverbs, wisdom is actually out there actively looking out for us, to lead us in the direction of life.  Sadly, we often hide away from wisdom and our foolishness leads us into trouble, sometimes even to death.

The Call of Wisdom

20 Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
21 At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23 Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused,
have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
25 and because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you,
27 when panic strikes you like a storm,
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
32 For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.’

A Proverbial Word / Parental Wisdom


 

thanks to Seer Snively Jackal of All Trades on flickr

thanks to Seer Snively, Jackal of All Trades on flickr

Proverbial parenting?

Straight out of the Ten Commandments, after putting the Lord your God first, having no idols, and remembering the Sabbath, we read, “Honour thy father and thy mother.”(Ex 20:12)

Proverbs 8 Hear, my child, your father’s instruction,
   and do not reject your mother’s teaching; 
9 for they are a fair garland for your head,
   and pendants for your neck.

At first glance, of course, one may take the father’s teaching to be from God, but as it is paired with mother’s teaching it becomes clear that this refers to human parents. Imagine that! Listen to the teaching of your parents without rejecting it, wear it on your head and carry it on yourself like a pendant.

Please note, it doesn’t say anything about carrying a chain around your neck or shackles on your feet!  Wisdom, and learning are not meant to weigh us down but to lift us up. To ornament or brighten us.

A Proverbial Word / Fear Of The Lord


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Fear the Lord.  What? We are supposed to be afraid of God?  What happened to the whole God of love thing?

Proverbs 1:7  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NRSV)

On the surface of this statement it means that nobody who doesn’t at the very least believe in God can be wise.  They would be fools who aren’t even interested in learning.  This has always been a difficult phrase for me.

In Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message//Remix it is paraphrased as; Proverbs 1:7 Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning

One of the ways of interpreting the meaning of things like, “fear of the Lord” in the Old Testament is by looking at what the author uses as comparison.   On one hand we have a person who fears the Lord while on the other we have fools who don’t even desire to learn or become wise.  Fear of the lord or love of evil seem to be one of the opposites they are talking about. Fear of the Lord is humility and its opposite is pride and arrogance.

The proverbial statement is about fear of the Lord, not about cowering in the corner waiting for a lightning strike, but being in awe enough of the Lord to try to learn everything we can about him and from him.  

A Proverbial Word/ Prologue


One of the things frequently heard in my house growing up was, “the proverbial”, as in “the proverbial silver lining!”  The other day I got thinking about how many of the sayings we use in society are, in fact, from the Book of Proverbs and not just local lore. 

It is the readings which are included in Sunday worship throughout the year that we hear interpreted and spend time considering.  In a quick scan of the lectionary readings for years A,B and C I found only five Sundays on which one of the optional reading was from Proverbs. There are none in year A, three in year B, and two in year C.

 So I have decided to go through Proverbs and reflect on some of the items in light of our world situation in 2013.

To begin we have the opening comments;

1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
Prologue
For learning about wisdom and instruction,
   for understanding words of insight, 
for gaining instruction in wise dealing,
   righteousness, justice, and equity; 
to teach shrewdness to the simple,
   knowledge and prudence to the young— 
let the wise also hear and gain in learning,
   and the discerning acquire skill, 
to understand a proverb and a figure,
   the words of the wise and their riddles. 

A little unpacking. From reading the  introductory remarks from the book one would be hard pressed to make any case for this not being important content.  There is nothing to look down on in; wisdom, understanding, insight, justice, equity, shrewdness, knowledge and prudence.  And yet we rarely hear of people spending  lot of time reading and reflecting upon Proverbs.

While the intent is positive, I think most of us view it, at best, as a well meaning lecture from our elders, and at worst, the cynical views of a few people who had everything.  At the risk of  being proverbial, there is a sense that the people who were the source of these sayings should get off their high horses!

Let’s open our minds for the next while and see what Proverbs has to share with us…

As usual I have taken Bible quotes from http://bible.oremus.org/  New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition)

For What Would You Wish? Solomon’s Wisdom


The issue of good and bad has existed from the time of creation.  There was chaos, a void, and God created and pronounced all of creation “good” and “very good.”  Many of the first things we teach our children relate to the comparison of good versus evil.  We teach them what is safe and what is dangerous, what they may and may not do, and we are proud when we can say that our kids know right from wrong!  Of course, in the next day we may be wondering how, knowing the right thing to do, they have managed to do something wrong and ended up in trouble! 

Imagine with me for a second.  Think about your life at this moment; your joys and struggles, and then imagine that God came to you and said that he would give you the one thing you wanted most for yourself.  What would you request?  How would God’s granting of this request affect your life?  Neither of these questions is easy.  Now if it were a genie, rather than God, we would know that we had two wishes left if that first one didn’t pan out.  But even with three wishes every show and story we have ever seen about people and genies ends up being about the unexpected and unfortunate consequences of the wrong wishes.  In an episode of the Simpsons, even Lisa’s wish for world peace ends up turning out wrong.

Solomon wasn’t dealing with a genie and didn’t have three wishes.  He was a young man in his twenties who had been recently affirmed as king of a huge nation of people, too numerous to be counted. At the point of our reading, Solomon was still grieving the loss of his father and taking a deep breath after all the violence and intrigue that had gone into his confirmation as king.  His father had been the man of action who, even in his youth, took down a giant single handed and then went on to rule his people successfully and follow God’s statutes for forty years.  David had not been perfect, but he had been very good.  Solomon had a lot to live up to and was not off to a very good start.  Despite his belief in the God of his ancestors, he was still following pagan practice of making sacrifices in high places. 

Following the sacrifice at Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered him one gift, whatever he requested.  Solomon told God that he was just a child, which may be read as a show of his humbleness, but certainly shows his continuing need for instruction on the true nature of good and evil.

Talk about being put on the spot!  We have no indication of time passing while Solomon considers his options.  One would think that foremost on his mind at the time was the enormity of the task ahead of him, ruling Israel and living up to his father’s example.  Even in his dream Solomon made a good choice of gift.  He didn’t ask to conquer other lands, he didn’t ask to be richer than anyone else, he didn’t ask to live forever, he asked for an understanding mind so that he could discern good from evil when dealing with his people.  He asked for the “ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight”  which is one of the dictionaries definitions of wisdom.  He didn’t just want to know the facts, he wanted to know what to do with them.  Of course it may be said that in the very choice of his gift he showed great wisdom. 

In Psalm 111 it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practise it have a good understanding.”  Here we see also the need to practise wisdom, or as my father often quotes from John 13, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”   The gift Solomon chose was with the love and fear of God in mind, and the request pleased God so much, we are told, that he promises riches as well.  God makes one more promise, if Solomon followed God’s statutes, as seen in the Ten Commandments and the Torah, he would have a long life.

        Our reading today from Ephesians makes two large comparisons in order to indicate the path of the wise; one between good and evil (which Solomon wanted help figuring out) and the other between drunkenness and being filled with the spirit.  There are three specific down to earth guidelines;

First we are told to make the most of our time.   We are meant to be wise and discern God’s purposes for us and then to work towards them, to dare to be Godly in an evil or pagan world. 

Secondly we are warned to stay sober because drunkenness (excess in anything), in the view of the Old Testament, opens the gate for immorality.  Excess leads to a loss of self-control.  This is not the only time in the Bible that the comparison is made between drunkenness and being spirit filled.  Remember at Pentecost when the apostles are filled with the spirit and begin to speak in tongues?  Many believed, but some thought they were drunk. 

The final guideline is that, filled by the Spirit, we should sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.  We are to sing with the people in our church and other believers as we do with our hymns every Sunday,  but not just that as the reading in Ephesians refers to spiritual songs as well.  In this we are called to share from our hearts the personal experience of our journey of faith. 

So, as we are coming close to the beginning of another school year and thinking about our schedules we are called to spend some time in the presence of God through his Spirit and listen for his direction.  We need to dare to be Godly in the midst of our hectic lives.  We need to keep ourselves full of the Spirit rather than the excesses of our world.  And we need to sing not only the hymns of our faith, but also of our own personal experience.  You may be sitting there thinking, “There is no way I’m getting up in front of people and singing anything and definitely not something so personal!”  The choir director in me would like to stress that everyone can sing, but that isn’t really the point.  Some of us sing through music, some through serving on committees of the church, some by volunteering their time for things like coffee hour and cleaning, and some through their acts of kindness and service to others in their church and their communities.  Wherever you go, “give thanks to the Lord with your whole heart, in the company of believers and in the broader society…The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practise it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever.”

 

1 Kings 3:3-14

Ephesians 5:15-20