1. The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.
The ability to make observations of all things whether physical or abstract and transform them into practical understanding that helps us to live better lives is an important aspect of wisdom and wisdom literature. It certainly is a time honored tradition. If you’ve ever read Aesop’s fables you are familiar with this kind of use of metaphor, here’ an example:
The Ants and the Grasshopper
THE ANTS were spending a fine winter’s day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, “Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?’ He replied, “I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing.” They then said in derision: “If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter.”
It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.
Proverbs 8 is a textbook example of personification. The writer takes Wisdom as an idea and personifies it all over the place.
Wisdom calls out and raises her voice. Wisdom takes her stand. She cries aloud at the city gates. Wisdom speaks truth and rejects lies. Wisdom is older than the earth, she was alongside God before the creation. Wisdom has children and imparts blessing to all who listen to her.
I’m a big fan of metaphorical language and so this kind of personification of wisdom is very appealing to me and how I think and communicate. To me, the theme which rises above all in Proverbs 8 is that Wisdom should be highly valued:
- “Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”
- “My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver”
- “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD.”
The importance of wisdom can’t be overstated. It’s essentially giving high value to common sense and good judgment. The writer of the Proverb wants the reader to value common sense and good judgment so much that he or she looks for it every day. Where can I find valuable insights that will help me to live a better life?
Here’s the problem, there’s an awful lot of foolishness in the world and our entertainment industry and now social media traffics in a lot of foolishness. Now, don’t get me wrong- technology is a double edged sword and there’s a lot of wisdom to be found at our fingertips. I’m not the most skilled mechanic or carpenter in the world, but when I have a household repair job I need to tackle, I can usually find at least a dozen Youtube videos showing me how to get the job done. But there’s also a lot of stupid stuff on there that can be an extreme time waster. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, we need to be wise in how we use it. We can eagerly use it to search for wisdom where it can be found… or we can waste it on foolishness. Do you value wisdom enough to eagerly pursue it like it was gold?
One gold nugget from Proverbs 8 to close “To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” (vs. 13). If we fear the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, then we need to love what God loves and HATE what God hates. So pay attention to the things that God hates: “pride, arrogance, evil behavior, perverse speech.” If God hates it, so should we. So we need to reject attitudes and actions in ourselves that are offensive to God.
So let’s learn to love wisdom (even if it isn’t a person).
~ Jeff Fletcher