in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Proverbs 1In much of the Bible wisdom is treated as a thing, an object. Observe:
“And God gave Solomon wisdom…” 1 kings 4:29
” Give me now wisdom…” 2 Chronicles 1:10
“But where shall wisdom be found?” Job 28:12
” the price of wisdom is above rubies.” Job 28:18
“…fools despise wisdom…” Proverbs 1:7
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom…” Proverbs 4:7
Oh, it goes on. In fact, the word hockmah, the Hebrew word translated as wisdom, is found 149 times in the King James Version. I didn’t count them all myself, that’s what the computer is for; but, even if we didn’t know the exact number, most of us know that the Bible talks about wisdom quite a lot. In most cases, wisdom is written about as if it were a thing. It is searched for, and it can be gotten, there is a price on it, some people despise it. It is, though, an object. That is what makes the reading today so special. Today, wisdom is a person. That only happens five times in the King James Version. It’s the same base word, but it’s made into a woman who speaks or sings! That is wisdom we can relate to, interact with; best of all, this wisdom is looking for us!
You would think that wisdom would look for us in church. Isn’t that where we go to become holy, to worship God? Wisdom should look for us there because that is where we go to look for her. But, that is not where wisdom is.
Some people — some religious, some not-so religious — say that they find wisdom, or a peace of mind, by spending time in nature. That is another way of seeking God, and the Talmud agrees that there are two scriptures: Torah, and nature. Yet, that is not where wisdom is either.
Wisdom is smart. She goes where she is needed most: To the busy parts of town, the marketplace. She is looking for bankers, and accountants, secretaries, postmen, food sellers, and the street sweepers and window cleaners who keep it all sparkling. Wisdom has not withdrawn into a world of sacred music and special vocabulary, she is rubbing shoulders with taxi drivers, and construction workers, high-rollers, and the homeless too. She is with those who are just trying to make a living, like most of us.
On this Sunday morning many of us will sing ancient hymns, become lost in bellows of incense, and speak the special language of the religious. Others will enter into the world of nature where birds sing a different kind of hymn, trees speak of times and seasons, and the sea roars out the wildness of God. That’s super, if you’re doing that. But there are still others. Many people will get in their cars, board subways, or buses and go to work. They are the ones most likely to find wisdom today. She is not set apart in ivory towers or sacred groves, but looking for us in the places we go every day. So, on your way to worship this morning, look for wisdom when you stop for gas, or coffee. See if you can find her in the restaurant or grocery store on the way home. Maybe she is in the market around the corner. She’s looking for you. Let yourself be found.
Linda “Lindy” McMillan lives in Shanghai, China where wisdom cries out, but very few hear.
Image: A busy corner in China Town, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2013 (Linda McMillan)