Today’s reading: Proverbs 7-9.
Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. Proverbs 9:1-3
She’s a lady. At least that’s how Proverbs personifies wisdom. Why? I hate to speculate, but here are a few possibilities.
- Perceptiveness, insight, intelligence, and compassion characterize women – all important qualities of wise persons.
- The writer gives wisdom an attractive personality for the young men who were the main audience of his writing.
- Wisdom has a nurturing quality, like women.
- God made people, both male and female, in his image. Therefore God shares aspects of both male and female personality. The wise aspect of God’s personality is, in some way, more feminine.
Lady Wisdom rightfully boasts of her abilities, which fit into three main categories (Lang, Wisdom and the Book of Proverbs).
- Intellect. “My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge. 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.”
- Morality. “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”
- Power. “Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth. I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.”
Her boasting is really a sales pitch. She stands at the most visible part of the city and she cries out to all who pass by, urging them to choose what she offers. What she offers is second to none, but she knows that her competitor, Folly, stands close by and makes her own pitch. The passers-by have a choice to make, and the decision is of life-and-death importance.
Wisdom says she was the first of the Creator’s works and was the craftsman at his side as he made the world. Some commentators believe that Wisdom is a person, Jesus Christ, but I say that she is a personification. Wisdom is a created thing and not the Creator himself. Proverbs gives wisdom the persona of a woman in order to make it more real to us and to reveal its qualities in a memorable fashion. This persona also allows Wisdom to speak, and her voice is compelling.
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.” Proverbs 8:34-36