Last Sunday, I preached about wisdom. In preparing for this sermon, I crowd-sourced thoughts on wisdom from my large collection of FaceBook friends. I asked them, “What is the wisest advice you’ve ever received?” and “What are the qualities of the wisest person you know?” In responding, people recalled the wise advice they’ve received from parents, teachers, and friends. “Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry.” “Remain open to new ideas.” “Be kind.” “Actions speak louder than words.” Wise words, indeed.
The text for my sermon was one that is rarely preached, from Proverbs 8, which prominently features “Sophia,” also referred to as “Lady Wisdom.” One thing that strikes me about Lady Wisdom and what she has to teach us is that she expresses joy and sheer delight in creation and in humanity. We often think of a wise person as one who is somber, intense, deep, and even expressing a depressive kind of realism about the world. But this is not so with lady wisdom, and it is not so with God. Lady Wisdom highlights that we are created as an expression of God’s joy and even delight. What would happen if our wisdom started from this place, viewing all of humanity, even those we dislike, as an expression of God’s joy and delight?
Here’s the text:
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.