Proverbs 9:1-12 The Voice
Lady Wisdom has built her house;
she has supported it with seven pillars.
She’s prepared a feast:
She’s slaughtered her animals, poured a spiced wine,
and set her table.
She has sent out her servants with the invitation to come to the party;
she, too, calls out from the highest point of the city:
Lady Wisdom: Whoever is young and gullible, turn in here.
You are welcome in this place!
Then, turning to those who are naive, she says:
Lady Wisdom: Come in. Come, eat my bread,
and drink my spiced wine.
Give up your gullible ways, your naive thoughts, for true life.
Set your course for understanding.
Whoever tries to discipline a scoffer should expect a hail of insults in return.
Whoever tries to correct an evildoer is likely to get hurt in the process.
So do not correct a scoffer unless you are ready to be hated,
but correct the wise and you will be loved.
Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser.
Teach upstanding people, and they will learn even more.
Reverence for the Eternal, the one True God, is the beginning of wisdom;
true knowledge of the Holy One is the start of understanding.
Lady Wisdom: Through me your days will be lengthened,
and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, wisdom is its own reward.
If you mock what you don’t understand, you alone will suffer the consequences.
Wisdom is the theme here and the latter part of our scripture reveals to us that it is a characteristic worth pursuing. For those who are sojourning through the Disciple 1 class currently, you may recall that we talked about this just a few weeks ago. As I was reading an article a couple of weeks before Christmas, I came across a short story about wisdom. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Albert was a young man who knew nothing of the world other than the little village in which he lived. One day a stranger came to town, an old man with a large sack on his back. Out of curiosity Albert began a conversation with this traveler who told Albert tales of faraway places full of mystery and wonder. For several days after his encounter with this old man, Albert could think only of the larger world which lay outside his village. Eventually, the allure of the unknown proved greater than the comfort of the familiar, so he packed his belongings and set out for these faraway places in search of the wisdom they might offer.
Before long he came to a walled city more grand than anything he had ever imagined. This city was renowned for its manufacture of stained glass. Satisfying himself that beauty was the true aim of wisdom, Albert became an apprentice to an old craftsman for whom he worked for two years, doing everything he was asked to do and learning all he could about the art of stained glass making. Finally, the day came for Albert to prove his own skill and show what he had learned. He labored meticulously over his stained glass creation, but alas, the finished product was of inferior quality. He would never be a glassmaker.
Albert moved on from that city to another famous for its stonecutters and masons. "Beauty isn't everything," he thought. "The true measure of wisdom is utility. I'll do something useful." So, again he set about the task of learning a trade, this time as a stonecutter. But his ability at stonecutting was as lacking as his efforts at making stained glass and so he moved on to the next town.
"Usefulness isn't everything," he decided. "Innovation is surely the measure of wisdom. I'll do something original." And soon he arrived at a village where the goldsmiths crafted objects of unsurpassed beauty and elegance. But for Albert, this third attempt only produced a third failure.
And so it went, city after city, try after try, year after year. Still, wisdom and skill eluded Albert. Now old and alone, Albert reached the great, capital city where he stopped to rest with his accumulation of objects and memories. Intrigued by his strangeness, some of the youngsters of the town came up to him and inquired of him where he had been and what he had seen. Albert began to relate to them the stories of his pilgrimage. Each day brought more and more people to hear his tales of faraway places and to marvel at his knowledge. Even the king came to listen and seek advice. So impressed was the king that he moved Albert into a castle and gave him the title of Albert the Wise.
After the novelty and the newness of his recently acquired fame began to fade, Albert began to experience self-doubt. No matter what anyone else said or thought, Albert knew that he was not wise. However, the more he tried to disown his reputation for wisdom, the wiser he was thought to be by the townspeople. Albert grew more and more sad and less at ease with himself.
Finally, to the utter astonishment of everyone, Albert packed up his belongings, gave up his palace, his wealth, his servants and his exalted position among the citizens of the town, and headed out on a journey for an unknown destination. Albert had discovered the one thing that for him was true wisdom. "It is much better," he said, "to look for what I may never find than to find what I do not really want."
We all, like Albert, are seekers of wisdom. And many of us, like Albert, find what we think is the source of wisdom, only to be disappointed when reality does not measure up to expectations.
What if Wisdom, unlike knowledge, is not a state of being, or a destination at which one finally arrives. Rather, what if Wisdom, like faith, is merely bread for the journey -- a companion for one's pilgrim walk.
Maybe wisdom is not something we possess, but something that possesses us, coming as it does at crucial moments of life providing guidance and direction -- a gift delivered by the grace of God. If that is so, then perhaps you’ve been hearing the voice of Wisdom throughout the day and at every crossroad you encountered -- a voice whose silent murmurings kept you from falling prey to the enticements of competing voices; a voice that kept calling you back to a reverence of God from which all Wisdom originates.
Pastor Michael Williams