Wisdom Calls!

Kim Olachea 17 - WEBBy Kim Olachea

at ProverbWise

Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square, at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings… “Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you… he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.” (Proverbs 1:21-33 NASB)

As I read these words from Proverbs Chapter 1, the words our guide in Israel, resound in my mind. “Won’t you follow me, please,” (Marcus 2003, Back Cover)[i] Susan would call to our group of Holy Land pilgrims, directing us and leading us through that intriguing land where Jesus once walked the earth in human form. I recall the excitement of following Susan through the land, discovering truth and reliving the miracles in every place that Jesus graced with his presence. His message became much clearer as I experienced the lessons of Scripture on location. From the raising of Lazarus in the town of Bethany where Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) to the empty tomb, the reality of Scripture came alive.

As we sang songs of worship, eyes lifted to a hundred gulls, soaring overhead, while gliding the calm, still waters of the Sea of Galilee, I imagined the water how it must have been one dark night when Jesus was with His men – dark, roiling seas on an ominous, stormy night. Jesus was sound asleep, even while his disciples cowered, shaking with fear in the midst of the tempest. I could picture them urgently shaking Him, waking Him from his deep sleep, exhausted from a demanding day of ministry to the multitudes who followed Him, expecting miracles, listening intently to His wise words of teaching, as He proclaimed the words of the Beatitudes on the mountainside that overlooked the Sea. I could imagine Jesus rising calmly, speaking three simple words, “Peace, be still,” (Mark 4:39 NKJV).

On another day, we climbed the path up to Caesarea Philippi, looking high up to giant cliff and gazing into the huge mouth of the dark cave. It was here that we learned the truth about this magnificent place in northern Israel. This place was once known as the entrance to Hades. It was an evil place where people sacrificed their precious babies to the god, Pan, throwing them into the raging waters to appease this evil, humanly-devised god of the underworld. In this same place, Jesus spoke to Peter, whose name means a small rock or pebble, proclaiming His sure and certain purpose regarding Himself and His church, which was soon to be born. “I also say to you that you are Peter (petros) and upon this Rock (Petra) I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) As I stood in this setting, I began to understand on a much deeper level, the meaning of Jesus’ teaching and message. Through parables, proverbs, questions, and object lessons, using the culture of the day and the land itself, Jesus taught His followers with great wisdom about Himself, showing His people the way of the Kingdom, and making known who He was, the Son of God, the Son of man, the Savior who is Christ the Lord, the Good News of great joy that would be for all people.

Just as our guide called out to us, her “students”, to follow so that we might learn, experience, and understand the messages of Jesus from the land, so Wisdom calls to us to listen, to come, to follow after her, so that we might experience and know her ways.

She has sent out her maidens, she calls
From the tops of the heights of the city:
“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks understanding she says,
 “Come, eat of my food
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
 “Forsake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:3-6 NASB)

The Book of Proverbs has always fascinated me. It has been a favorite book of mine as far back as I can remember.  With thirty-one chapters, there have been numerous challenges from teachers, youth leaders, and pastors to read a chapter from the book of Proverbs every day. “It will change your life”, they said. Since my teen years I have attempted to followed their advice, not every month of every year, but for at least a month or often more each year. As a person who tends to see things from a practical, black and white, right or wrong perspective, the simplicity and matter-of-factness of the book has always resonated with me.

The term “proverb” means “an object lesson setting out courses of action” (NET, p. 1074)[ii] which will help one to know which path to choose or avoid, which way is right and which way is wrong. In Chapter 1, the father charges the son to avoid the wrong path, to avoid friends who would entice him to go with them to do evil. He says “do not walk…with them. Keep your foot from their path, for their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood…but they lie in wait for their own blood. They ambush their own lives…” (1: 10-19 NASB) The father also warns his son to keep far away from prostitutes. “Do not go near the door of her house…” (3:8) Instead, the son is told, “Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well…Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of your youth…Be exhilarated always with her love…for the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord and He watches all his paths.” (3:15-21)

King Lemuel’s mother addresses her son in Proverbs 31 with warnings applicable not only to kings but with instruction that is profitable for anyone who is in any position of influence (which means all of us!). “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink. For they will drink and forget what is decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.” (31:4-5) Instead, she said to her son, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” (31:8-9)

Certainly, the truth of the book of Proverbs is a treasure of truth and knowledge for wise living. Yet, in reading the book, it can be difficult to understand the flow and cohesiveness as a whole. In an attempt to organize, categorize, or outline the book, it can become quite frustrating. Memorizing the book of Proverbs, or just a chapter, seems an impossible feat. How would it be possible to memorize a passage that seems so random, with topics jumping from one to another like a jumping bean held in the palmof one’s hand that has become warm causing the larvae inside to spasm and twitch?[iii] Memorizing just one proverb or one dialogue on a specific topic is reasonable enough. For example, Proverbs 3:5-6 is a commonly memorized and a key passage for those who desire to make wise choices and follow the right path in life at any given time. As a woman, the description of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is an important Proverb to know and understand. Of course, Proverbs 6 describes seven things the Lord hates. If we want to honor and please God, it is helpful to know what attitudes and actions to avoid, because they are displeasing to Him. But to outline or attempt to memorize a whole chapter, especially from chapters such as chapters 19 – 29 dealing with “Life and Conduct” appears to be impossible. Using succinct, absolute statements, the reader is bombarded with advice regarding anger, wealth, laziness, pride, envy, gossip, proper discipline of children, and bad habits such as excessive drinking and gluttony.

Yet from the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is calling us to heed her warnings, follow her on the right path, learn her ways, listen to wise advice leading to life and joy, and avoid the dangers of folly leading to death. Over the past seven months of study, it has been exciting to discover that there is a way to study the Book of Proverbs that helps the book to make sense as a whole, that moves beyond the simple, concise statements, to a cohesive flow of spiritual truth building a life of wisdom that begins with the fear of the Lord (1:7) and leads to maturity resulting in “life, righteousness, and honor.” (21:21)

Yes, wisdom is calling. “Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square, at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings.” (1:20-21). It’s as if she is saying, “Won’t you follow me, please?”

Let’s begin this journey together in this new year of 2016. Join me on a quest for wisdom and let’s follow her on the path that she reveals to us. “There is no time like the present,” as they say. Wisdom is calling. “Her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her.” (3:14-15 NASB) For wisdom is as old as God, who created all things. Wisdom was present with God when He created the world. She “was beside Him, as a master workman…daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the world, His earth” (Proverbs 8:30-31).  How can there be anything better than that? She calls out to each person who will listen.

On top of the heights beside the way,
Where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
Beside the gates, at the opening to the city,
At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:
 “To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men…
 “Listen, for I will speak noble things;
And the opening of my lips will reveal right things.” (8:2-6 NASB)

Please don’t delay.

“For…blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.
For he who finds me finds life
And obtains favor from the Lord.
But he who sins against me injures himself;
All those who hate me love death.” (8:34-36 NASB)

 

To subscribe to ProverbWise  e-Newsletter by clicking here.

 

 

[i] Marcus, Susan. 2003. Enter His Gates To Your Jewish Roots. Kibbutz Ginosar: T-Land, Ltd.

 

[ii] Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.  All rights reserved.

[iii] Wikipedia contributors, “Mexican jumping bean,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mexican_jumping_bean&oldid=695899583 (accessed January 2, 2016)