“Wisdom calls aloud in the streets,
she raises her voice in the public squares.”
—Proverbs 1:20 (NIV).
Ah, wisdom. I recall fondly now the very first time I heard this passage recited. It was Chuck Swindoll who spoke this harsh, blunt and true word—in due season for me—back over six years ago now. Pacing the streets I was, reconciling the grief of a busted marriage and fragments of all I’d worked for, for fifteen years, scattered like burnt seeds for the birds to peck at.
The fact was I’d wantonly lived a folly of a life ‘til then and at last I was being found out. Foolish, yes maybe, but it was a good sense of comfort I drew then from finally coming aside the truth, however raw and painful it was at the time otherwise. I was glad because the penny dropped—suddenly (and finally) the Holy Spirit was moving in my life; entirely due, I might add, to a deep conviction (for the first time) to follow Jesus of Nazareth.
Wisdom has the way of reminding us continually and all-too-late the folly of ignoring the call. She says throughout the remainder of Proverbs 1, ‘Well, I did warn you... indeed, I’ve been warning you for years now; yet you, in your wisdom ignored me. Now you’ll bear the consequences—I can hold back judgment no longer.’
Paul, of course, speaks very eloquently of the foolishness of human wisdom as compared to the incomparable riches of God’s wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1-3. He’s dying to make a point with them; so rich in their own cherished Hellenistic and Judaist wisdom they were. And so are we. We know better all-too-often!
Back to Proverbs, and central to the wisdom of learning, Lady Wisdom stands. She calls aloud and direct via the way of life that’s visible everywhere if we’ll only observe and take note. Treat people poorly and we end up poorly. Save little and have little on the rainy day. Plan little and plan for disaster, eventually. And so on.
And this is the point. Wisdom is ‘making her thoughts known’ (v. 23) to us, even now. When we abide she’ll protect. We find that she is saying equally, “whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (v. 33).
God is Wisdom as much as God is Love, as God is also as much Grace and Truth. God is all virtue under the sun and many other things.
Life is diametrically opposed. We don’t see it this way, but from our long term viewpoints this is just how it works. Life turns out well or poorly depending on how and what we invest. The passage of Proverbs 1:20-33 is all about the introduction to the polar nature of life consequences where we hardly ever find ourselves squarely in the middle.
Wisdom and the living of life—these cannot be split. Wisdom is calling—what’s your answer? Will you live with her; will you take her in, adopt and own her?
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.