Wisdom Personified

By Sherry Black

A Reading from Proverbs 8:1-21

1 Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4 “To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
5 O simple ones, learn prudence;
acquire intelligence, you who lack it.
6 Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right;
7 for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
9 They are all straight to one who understands
and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold;
11 for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
12 I, wisdom, live with prudence,
and I attain knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
14 I have good advice and sound wisdom;
I have insight, I have strength.
15 By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
16 by me rulers rule,
and nobles, all who govern rightly.
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
and my yield than choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
21 endowing with wealth those who love me,
and filling their treasuries.

Meditation

There are two Hebrew words translated as wisdom: shakal is the word used in Genesis 3 for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil — the fruit that Eve saw as desirable to make wise. The word used throughout Proverbs and in many other places is chakemah. It’s been suggested that the former is wisdom obtained on one’s own initiative, and the latter is a knowledge obtained by having a relationship with God. It is wisdom born of intimacy. It is wisdom born of love.

In an 1846 book on Proverbs, Charles Bridges reflected, “The loudness and the perseverance of the voice is that of an earnest friend who warns of danger. For would she have cried so loud or continued for so long if she had not loved your soul?”

Our best response to love is love.

To paraphrase Thomas Merton’s famous prayer, I believe that the desire to love and please God does in fact please our Beloved. We were made for this love! We foster our love of God — like all of our relationships — by spending time together, seeking God’s face, seeking God’s presence. And through a lifetime of connection, we become wise to the ways of God. God tenderly calls and invites us to intimacy: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Through intimacy, God bestows us with the riches of wisdom.

We best develop our relationship with God through contemplation and silence. “Be still and know that I am God.” In his book, The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson wrote, “I want all of life to be intimate — sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously — with the God who made, directs, and loves me.” There is no higher aspiration.

The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for ten years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.

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The Diocese of East Kerala – The (united) Church of South India
St. John’s Church, Savannah, Ga.

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