Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 22, 2016.

Book Of Wisdom - Nicholas Roerich
Book Of Wisdom – Nicholas Roerich

There are two ways to travel through life.  Either we travel as though we are riding in “bumper cars” at the state fair, or we travel as though we are driving on a freeway.  To borrow a phrase from Robert Frost, which one we choose will make “all the difference.”  Bumper cars travel on a round or oval platform, and where the drivers go depends on how they respond to whatever bumps up against them.  Now to the right.  Oops!  Now to the left.  Watch out!  Now spinning in circles.  There is no set course, no beginning point, no ending point.  There are just random movements responding to stimuli.  On the other hand, drivers on a freeway get on the road at a certain point and do not get off the road until they arrive at their chosen exit.  Sadly, most people select the bumper-car method of living and somehow are terribly surprised when the ride is over because they realize they have gone nowhere and accomplished nothing.

The wisdom writer of Proverbs had a more poetic way of expressing that same truth.  Proverbs 7 and Proverbs 8 stand in stark contrast to one another as they describe two different ways to go through life.  After writing twenty-seven verses in Proverbs 7 to paint a dark and terrifying picture of the false attractions and costly consequences of sin (personified by the female adulteress), the author then contrasts such a life with thirty-six verses in Proverbs 8 that are as bright and fulfilling as the former ones are dull and tragic.  Rather than a life of sin, the writer proclaims the virtuous and healthy attributes of a life of righteousness (personified by Wisdom).

Unlike the tempter of evil who calls out to the weak and vulnerable from the shadows of darkness, Wisdom calls out to everyone (8:4) from everywhere (8:2-3).  Wisdom is appropriate in the market place, the work place, the home, the place of recreation, the place of worship.  Proverbs 8 is a call to fall in love with Wisdom and to freely exhibit and demonstrate that love in public.  Nothing hidden.  Nothing shameful.  Gleefully open for all to see.  The two ways of living could not be more antithetical.

Wisdom is the attribute of God by which He created all things.  According to the Apostle Paul, Jesus Christ is “the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).  In Colossians 1:15-19, Paul writes of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation… all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things… in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”   Here in Proverbs 8, Wisdom is personified and, as the pre-Incarnate Christ, is described as being with God through all the mysterious, beautiful, and powerful artwork of creation.

Proverbs 8:30 says that Wisdom was “daily his delight” and was “rejoicing before him always.”  What an exciting picture of God!  So often, God is depicted as the stern grandfather or the grim-faced, cosmic, moral policeman or the all-seeing prison warden just waiting for a rule infraction.  This verse declares that nothing could be further from the truth.  The Jesus who made the toughest sinner feel safe in His presence and the lowliest outcast long to be near Him was the same Jesus who seemed to be invited to everyone’s dinner parties.  Actually, He sounds exactly like the One the proverb writer described as delightful and joyful.

Verse 31 explains why.  The rejoicing was “in his inhabited world” and the delighting was “in the human race.”  Proverbs 8:4 says of Wisdom, “…my call is to all that live.”  If this life of rejoicing in the word and delighting in the human race is the life to which Wisdom is extending the call, it is difficult to imagine a more fulfilling, dynamic, meaningful way to live.

Proverbs paints two very different choices from which everyone gets to select a method for traveling the road of life.   There is the life of sin that is calling to those “without sense” (7:7) and offering to lead them “like an ox to the slaughter” or “a bird rushing into a snare” (7:22-23), ultimately assuring they will be “going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:27).  On the other hand, there is the road paved with Wisdom that offers understanding (8:1), knowledge (8:10), insight and strength (8:14), righteousness and justice (8:20).  It is literally the choice between life and death.

Thankfully, when the ride at the state fair stops and the drivers of the bumper cars climb out of the tiny cars, they have a chance to not get back on the ride but to get in a full-sized vehicle and drive on a highway with lane designations and traffic laws.  That’s how they safely arrive at home.  It is the same in life.

Dr. Vicki Vaughn
Executive Director
Richard Jackson Center for Evangelism & Encouragement, Brownwood, Texas


Tags: wisdom, life choices, consequences

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