Pursue Wisdom – Proverbs 8

wisdom more precious than rubies
per·son·i·fi·ca·tion
/pərˌsänəfəˈkāSH(ə)n/
noun
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

Make a Choice! – 2 Chron. 34

 

scrolls
This picture is from the Memorial Scrolls Trust (http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org/), a collection of 1600 Czech Torah scrolls saved from the destruction of the Holocaust.

 

Wow! This week has been such a great reminder for me about the importance of scripture! We began this week by looking at our memory verse from Deut. 30:19-20:

 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

We’ve learned how we can choose life through desiring and studying God’s word this week. What does choosing life look like?

Let’s pause for a moment this Saturday morning and turn to 2 Chronicles 34, our key text. The Israelites in the Old Testament always seem to be getting into trouble and turning away from God’s paths. At this point in 2 Chronicles, the kingdom of Israel that Saul and David had established had been divided in two, with the ten tribes in the north making up Israel and the two in the south, Judah. The nation of Israel had become so wicked that God had sent them into exile. The kingdom of Judah had not gotten that bad, yet. But still, the people, under the king’s directions, had begun to worship other gods and neglected the one true God. In 2 Chronicles 33, we find the temple in disrepair and the law of God lost. The nation of Judah was choosing death.

But, in 2 Chronicles 34, we find hope in the form of a boy named Josiah, anointed king at only 8 years old. The Bible said that “he did what was right in the LORD’s sight and walked in the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn aside to the right or the left” (v. 2). Josiah according to this verse was obviously choosing the path of life. But, what does that actually mean? What did he do that was so righteous?

The rest of this chapter goes on to say that he tore down the false gods that his people were worshiping and cleansed the land. Then, he began to restore God’s temple to how it should be. While the priests were looking through the temple and cleaning it out, they found something pretty important. In verse 14, it says that “Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the LORD written by the hand of Moses.” The people of Judah had walked so far down the path of unrighteousness that they totally neglected the law of God and lost it. Later on, it says that the court secretary, Shapan, just told King Josiah, “Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.” The law to him was nothing more than an old book!

Shapan read the law aloud to Josiah and when Josiah heard this, he got so upset that he tore his clothes! He realized that his people hadn’t been choosing the way of life; they hadn’t been keeping “the word of the LORD in order to do everything written in [it]” (v. 21).

choose life

This week, we’ve been meditating on the importance of scripture. We have a wonderful gift already because we have such easy access to the word of God! But, just like the people of Judah, we may neglect it to chase after other things. This year, we have another opportunity to commit ourselves to learning how to choose life from God’s word, both through these devotions and more simply through dedicating ourselves to God. Beginning tomorrow, we will learn more Godly wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Make a choice now to dedicate yourself like Josiah did to the daily reading of God’s word so that we can follow the paths of righteousness that lead to life.

SOS

Song of Solomon 1-4

sos700

Friday, February 3

I hadn’t gotten around to registering for the “mom’s” conference, Hearts at Home, until a few days before and couldn’t find the class descriptions so I had to sign up for classes just based on the names.  I saw one called, “Passion Pursuit,” taught by Dr. Juli Slattery and Linda Dillow.  I’ve heard Dr. Slattery on Focus on the Family and at previous Hearts at Home conferences and really enjoyed learning from her. I also figured I’d like to figure out what I have a passion for, so I signed up for this class.
Pursuing one’s occupational or spiritual passion was NOT what this class was about!  It was about that one book your pastor rarely, if ever, speaks on, the book I personally have never done a jr. church series of lessons on, and as of yet, the one book we’ve never had the kids memorize verses from. That’s right! I’m talking about The Song of Solomon (SOS)!  (Signal collective blush from everyone’s cheeks.)
Over the years, there has been debate about what this book is about and why it is in the Bible.  I did a little bit of research and almost everyone agrees that this book is about God’s great love for His people and the intimacy He wants to have with both the Israelites and those of us who have chosen to become adopted seeds of Abraham.  Where debate and controversy lies is that other meaning.  As Bob Jones stated in his book, “ The 5W’s and 1H of Genesis Through Malachi,”  Song of Songs is to be seen as, “literally describing the sanctity and beauty of human physical love…Maybe God wants us to read this book so that we return marriage and sexuality to the holy place He has always intended them to occupy.” p. 70  The ladies teaching “Passion Pursuit” agree with Bob.  SOS is a book celebrating God’s love for us but it is also celebrating the gift God gives a couple upon their marriage. Those of us who have taken those vows are to embrace this gift to the fullest.( Dr. Slattery and Mrs. Dillow created an online ministry to help people do this called “Authentic Intimacy.”  I highly recommend checking this out. They have scriptural advice and instruction for anyone looking to have greater, true intimacy with God and their spouse or in preparation for marriage.)
Yes, there are a few problems with the actual book.  If Solomon was the author, which most consider as fact, he wasn’t exactly a one woman man.  My study Bible states he probably had 140 wives and concubines at the time and more throughout his life.  Not exactly a fact that would make a woman feel special!
This is also a very hard book to follow. They’re in a garden, she’s having a dream, they’re married….What is going on???? They are also talking in metaphors and similes…they’re in an actual garden, He’s in her “garden.”  And if it weren’t for the headings in my Bible, I would have no idea who is talking.  The Shulammite woman is talking, a whole bunch of women are talking (where did they come from?!) And even God speaks once.  This is a book you’ll benefit from reading along with a commentary.
So how do you use SOS to make a difference in your life?  How do you make this a part of your devotion?  A friend of mine told me that her pastor recently preached a sermon on it and encouraged husbands to tell their wives they are beautiful.  So there you go husbands!  God wants you to complement your wives!  Use lots of flowery words! (Check out youtube for examples on how to use King Solomon’s words to make your woman swoon!)  Ok, that was a little facetious. Seriously, most woman do want to know her man desires her (but maybe not in the words of chapter 4) and God has provided an example of this along with His blessings.
My friend thought of another take on SOS.  She thought that since her husband was being encouraged to tell her she’s beautiful, she should make more of an effort to be beautiful.  She looked at verse 1:6 when the Shulammite woman tries to hide from Solomon.  So my friend decided that in addition to not wearing sweats all day, she would close the door while using the powder room and not burp or otherwise display gross behaviors in front of her husband.  We all laughed when she told us that he didn’t notice but her point was that we shouldn’t take our husbands for granted and we should make an effort to be beautiful for our husbands. We also need to keep in mind verse 2:15, “ Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.  The chorus talking here, saying not to allow anything to spoil the man and woman’s relationship.  Good advice for all of us in any relationship.
The world may have cheapened the physical relationship between a man and a woman,  likening it to something as casual as a game of ping pong.  SOS reminds us that it is truly a wedding gift from God that is to be treasured, embraced, and protected.
So if you are married, read today’s reading with your spouse and have a great night! ; )
– Maria Knowlton

 (photo credit: cartoon by Andrew Fraser – found at http://www.cartoonsidrew.com/2014_10_01_archive.html)