Monday, August 27, 2012

The Voice and Character of Wisdom

The voice of Folly in Proverbs speaks at twilight and into the night to foolish and simple young men who have wandered down the wrong streets.  Foolishness appeals to the simpleton within us and uses crooked and deceptive speech to lure us into her traps.  Wisdom, on the other hand, could not be more different.  Not only does she cry out on in the streets and marketplaces pleading with men and women to listen to her ways, but everything she says is trustworthy, straight, right, and true.  We can trust everything Wisdom has to say.  When we do not understand or agree with the particulars, we can know that what she has said is righteous and that there is nothing twisted or crooked in it.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul admonishes them to meditate on the kinds of things that are true, noble, just, praiseworthy, and so forth.  Hearing Wisdom speak in Proverbs chapter 8 we learn that all these things turn out to be the voice of Wisdom.  Paul notes that when we think on these kinds of things the God of peace will be with us, will keep our heart and minds in Christ Jesus, will lead us through life.  And Solomon is just as sure of it – when we hear the voice of Wisdom our lives will become rightly-ordered.

Everything Wisdom utters is true, and she hates evil: “for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips” (vs 7).  It turns out that truth valued and held to creates a disposition of distaste for wickedness.  When we long for truth and work for it, we not only reveal a taste of truth, we create a hunger for it.  We may long for an entire well-grilled steak at its first bite, but we eventually find ourselves full and a little sluggish.  And while truth also creates that longing at first bite, it is an inexhaustible source of nourishment.  We can eat and eat of it and never reach its end.  And along the way we learn to develop a distaste for wickedness.  Not only will the wise person recognize evil, they will also recognize it for the pain and destruction it causes in the human life.  And because Wisdom loves God’s creation, she hates its destruction.

All these characteristics highlight the inner landscaping Wisdom performs in the submitted human soul.  When we listen to Wisdom and when we meditate on these things our inner lives are reshaped to fit the way God created us and the rest of the world.  When a puzzle fits together the pieces do two things – they fit with each other and they match the picture on the box.  The way a rightly-ordered puzzle works is a lot like the way our rightly-ordered souls work.  When God’s wisdom has its way within us the pieces of our lives will fit together and our lives as a whole will fit the picture of what God created us to be.

So this passage on the voice and character of Wisdom is not just a story of what Wisdom sounds like, it is the template for what the follower of Jesus Christ begins to look like.  Is our voice in line with the truth, righteousness, and nobility of the voice of Wisdom?  Are our lives conforming to that very character, or are we still mired in the simplistic and destructive ways of folly?  Have the people of God become people of his Wisdom?

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