Wisdom is a concept often neglected in this day and time. Our society has a laser focus on the phenomenon of feelings and perceptions while it neglects to acknowledge (and sometimes outright rejects) the fact that discernment and soundness of mind are essential driving forces of a life well-lived.
This isn’t to say our feelings are inherently bad or they serve no purpose, but it most definitely serves to stress that just because our emotions have purpose and value, it does not mean they ought to be set up at the helm to give us direction for how we should live and what choices we should make. Yet, this is the overarching philosophy of the culture we operate within.
The entire book of Proverbs, especially the eighth chapter, contrasts this mentality with its constant emphasis on the importance and value of wisdom. From the very beginning, we see wisdom personified as insistent upon her own availability and necessity, as she calls and raises her voice to proclaim that all should diligently pursue her: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right...” (Proverbs 8:4-6 ESV).
I may not always enjoy my lot as a full-time English major, but one thing I have gratefully learned through my studies of literary devices is that personification is a very powerful thing. When authors include personification in literature, they mean to give certain attributes to the “person” -- attributes which belong to the concept or object being personified. So in this case, we learn exactly what wisdom is through the “person” of Wisdom who proclaims herself all throughout this beautiful chapter. With this in mind, what else does Wisdom say about herself? We read on:
“For my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge. Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”
These are very bold claims. From them we learn that wisdom is inextricably linked with truth (as opposed to falsehood), righteousness (as opposed to wickedness), and straightness (as opposed to twistedness or crookedness). The last two verses there are essential as well -- they indicate explicitly that the blessings of wisdom far surpass the blessings of jewels, silver, and choice gold. Not only that, but “all that you desire cannot compare with her” (8:11). Oh, that we would take Scripture at its word when it says this! Wisdom is more imperative and valuable than any worldly position, any monetary profit, or any temporary pleasure that we might pursue.
And what exactly does wisdom do? We learn the answer to this as we continue to read. “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil...I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength. By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly” (8:12-16). Without getting too political, is it not obvious we have sorely undervalued and neglected the pursuit of wisdom? Do we not need to have counsel, insight, and strength in all the areas of leadership that make up the governing body of our society? Are we not lacking in this? It’s because we have failed to acknowledge and act on our need for wisdom. Instead, we choose to grasp at hollow and unfulfilling happiness, cheap “love” that tolerates what God calls detrimental, and distorted unity that builds quick bridges through structural compromise that later cracks under pressure.
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth [see Matt.] and righteousness. Blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever find me finds life and obtains favor from Lord” (8:32-35) [notes mine].
We are in desperate need of wisdom. May we never stop seeking until we find it.
Jessica Ray is a native to the Appalachian mountains of Asheville, NC. She has been a lover of literature since elementary school and a lover of Christ since high school. She is currently pursuing an English degree that she hopes will help her more effectively minister to others through written words. Her favorite things on earth are chai tea, old books, autumn leaves, British history, dry humor, and rainy weather. She’s propelled by a passion for learning and demonstrating how the Gospel, objective truth, and sound theology are not only applicable but essential to all aspects of life as a woman in a world that celebrates sin, false doctrine, and self-sufficiency.