Something Old, Something New: Appreciating the Old Testament

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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
September 2017

Romancing the Word
Proverbs 8:1-36Does not wisdom call?

Romancing the Word

Proverbs 8:1-36

Does not wisdom call?

Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB

Integral to reading the Scriptures is living the Scriptures. Perhaps no body of biblical literature is as effective in mapping out a way to live as is the Wisdom literature of the Bible. These books include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Wisdom, and Sirach (Ecclesiasticus). 

How do we live wisely upon this earth? We are given insights on how to live fulfilled lives on this earth. We are motivated to trust and recognize God’s guidance in our lives. These insights are offered to us as a gathering of wise sayings that we can use as guidelines for living.

In Wisdom literature, especially in the book of Proverbs, the poetic device of parallelism is often used. For example, at the beginning of chapter 8 where Wisdom is personified as a woman, we are reminded that Wisdom is always calling out to us. She is present on the crossroads and at the gates of the city.  She is there in the heart of human traffic proclaiming:

You naïve ones, gain prudence,
You fools, gain sense. (v. 5)

Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold. (v. 10)

Prudence and sense, instruction and knowledge are certainly gifts that can strengthen our daily living. There is something gripping about having the same thing said twice, in just a little different way. Perhaps it is a reminder that most of us don’t "get it" the first time. Repetition is good for faint hearts. The author of Proverbs wants to stir our hearts to yearn for wisdom. 

As I prayed with this chapter of Proverbs I began to recognize that when I get caught up in the monotony of daily living without truly paying attention to life, I can easily overlook the truth that Wisdom wants to be my soulmate. This realization has awakened and renewed my desire and need to pray for Wisdom. There is something about taking a Scripture passage to prayer and entering more deeply into its truth that brings about a new awakening. Thus I have recently been filled with an overwhelming sense of being led by Wisdom.

When I hear Wisdom say, “On the way of righteousness I walk, along the paths of justice…” (v. 20). I recall a delightful Wisdom story from our community archives. In the early 50s our community decided we needed to integrate our high school. Segregation was not the way of justice and so the sister who was principal at that time approached our bishop. Bishop Fletcher was a grandfatherly type of bishop and he was, of course, concerned with all the probable repercussions. He said to Sister Consuella, “I’m not sure that’s wise,” and her response was, “Well, I don’t know if it’s wise but it’s right.”

That anecdote says much about Wisdom. To do what is right is to be led by Wisdom. If you search through the archives of your life you will probably find some of your own Wisdom stories waiting to be revealed.

A story from folk literature tells of a pilgrim who meets an angel on the road. In one hand the angel is carrying a flaming torch, in the other hand a bucket of water. The pilgrim asks, “Where are you going?" The angel answers, “With the flaming torch I am going to burn down all the mansions of heaven; with this bucket of water I'm going to quench all the fires of hell. Then we will discover who really loves God!”

This charming little story sounds like something we could find in the Wisdom literature of the Bible. Instead of trying to figure out how to get to heaven or how to stay out of hell, open your heart to Lady Wisdom daily. She will teach you how to live on this earth with integrity. Living wisely on this earth is an art. Wisdom is synonymous with life. To learn the art of living it is crucial that we continue to sit daily at Wisdom’s gate. As singer and songwriter David Pomeranz reminds us, “It’s in every one of us to be wise.” 

One final note: In praying with this text I was delighted to read of Wisdom’s presence with the Creator before and throughout the creation of the world. She is presented as a playful companion to God from the beginning of time. Surely that playful presence has not abandoned us. I believe this lively spirit of Wisdom is still with us at all the crossroads of our lives. Let us open ourselves to the loveliness of God’s Wisdom flowing through us and into our world, for indeed each of us can be wise.  

For an inspiring video meditation please search YouTube,
It’s in every one of us—David Pomeranz.


Your next word to romance is 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.

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