Set Your Heart on It
Lord, give me ears that listen rather than merely hear.
Read Proverbs 8:1–21
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have insight, I have power.
15 By me kings reign
and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
and nobles—all who rule on earth.
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
and making their treasuries full.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding” (John O’Donohue, 1956–2008). Lord, give me the joy of living in the present moment.
Lady Wisdom raises her voice to offer life at the crossroads and at the city gates, in the hurly-burly, the hustle and bustle of everyday life; and she calls to the callow, the simpletons and the dolts, not to an elite phalanx of know-it-all scholars. There is an implicit contrast with the seductress of chapter 7, whose words and works belong to darkness and lead to death (cf. Prov. 7:9,18,27; 8:36). Chapter 8 has seven roughly equal sections; we focus today on the first four: verses 1–5, 6–11, 12–16 and 17–21. If I were the one issuing the invitation to Lady Wisdom, for what task, issue or problem would I most need her invaluable assistance? The NIV phrase “trustworthy things” in verse 6a could mean “excellent things.” If Lady Wisdom were to speak with complete candor to me as I am writing at this moment, where would her candor strike me hardest?
In today’s reading I encounter many opposites. I trawl through these polarities (7b,13,17), perhaps writing them out—the most absolute one is “love-hate.” C. S. Lewis writes of the wrestle between Ransom and the Un-
man, “Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over him—a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred” (C. S. Lewis, Voyage to Venus, 142). Can I imagine having such a response to evil? Finally, I notice how wide is Lady Wisdom’s call. Proverbs does not dispense Jewish national wisdom. Lady Wisdom’s call is to “all humanity” (4), to “all who rule on earth” (16). I thank God that he speaks every person’s language and that there is no community so remote or depraved or singular as to be beneath or beyond his invitation.
I pray for Bible translators, who by their work abroad subvert their own foreignness and allow local Christians to hear God speaking in their
Lord, Your call to all mankind goes out loud and clear. Teach us to respond by walking in the wisdom that, as James puts it, comes from above (Jas. 3:17).
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