28 June – 4 July 2015.
When young Jewish boys turned 13, it was time for them to begin their religious studies, and Proverbs was one of their first text books. Written for children, it offered simple ideas to guide them through childhood, and presented the world in a simple way. Proverbs talks about things in simple black and white – righteous and wicked, rich and poor, the wise and the fool, a life of security or a life of disaster. And it gives simple advice: if you are good and hard-working you will succeed in life, if you are wicked or lazy you will fail. This gives young boys a good starting point in life, before they grow up and graduate to harder texts like Ecclesiastes and Job where they find that life is not so black and white at all, or so simple!
Two women accompany these impressionable boys in their education: the “strange woman”, who will tempt them away to do evil, and “Woman Wisdom” who teaches them the right way.
It is Woman Wisdom that we hear in today’s passage. She wanders through the city crying out, begging people to listen to her, to leave behind their foolishness. If boys are willing to listen to her, she will fill them with wisdom. With her as a teacher, even the worst students can still learn.
But many just don’t want to learn. The proud think they know it all already. They laugh at Wisdom, and make fun of education. Fools hate knowledge – but think that they know everything! In that case Woman Wisdom warns them: They will come to realise too late how stupid they have been. Fools will look back on their lives and think, “If only I had known better! If only I had done things differently!”
In our churches, Wisdom continues to call us – and to face the same challenges. Some today still proudly think they know everything. They aren’t willing to listen or learn. But this is the road to terrible disaster. As we read through Proverbs together, let’s try to keep our ears and our minds open, and allow Christ, the true Wisdom of God, to teach us.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis