wisdom’s public call in the city | Solomon’s wisdom, pt. 2

wisdom’s public call in the city | Solomon’s wisdom, pt. 2 January 13, 2022

The voice of wisdom is not only clear, but available for all. She is available everywhere we turn in the city, “public places” or “the streets”

The commentary and Scripture translation in this article is drawn from the works of Michael E. Williams. Otherwise the King James Version is utilized unless otherwise noted.

I will cover Proverbs 1.20-33. To read CLICK HERE

First of these 2 articles: sin drains one’s life blood | Solomon’s wisdom CLICK HERE

i. she cries out in the city

“Wisdom cries aloud in the open air, and raises her voice in public places. She calls at the top of the bustling streets; at the approaches to the city gates.”[1]

Wisdom “cries aloud” and “raises her voice” (Prov 1.20). To cry aloud is not just a shout, but more of a clarion call. It is translated in other parts of the Hebrew Bible as a shout for joy, a shout out of prayer, or a shout of worship of God. Wisdom “raises her voice.” The voice is used in passages describing the activity of God, such as a prophetic, thundering, or covenant voice. It is also the summoning voice of the trumpet.

“She calls” or “she crieth” (Prov 1.21, KJV). This is an invitation requiring a response, similar to an altar call at the end of a service. I hear the voice of wisdom. I either respond and obey, or I respond by ignoring what she has to share. The voice of wisdom is clear, distinct, and sacred, but I must make the effort to tune in.

The voice of wisdom is not only clear, but available for all. She is available everywhere I turn in the city, “public places” or “the streets” (Prov 1.20). She is in the “bustling streets” denoting the marketplace, commercial district, place of business, “the chief place of concourse” (Prov 1.21).

“Lady Wisdom addresses men and women in the course of their daily transactions in the streets, public squares, markets, busy corners, and city gates. The sage, therefore, describes wisdom as both accessible as a public address and as elusive as the opposite sex. Endowed with the ambiguity of full personhood, Lady Wisdom is found in the midst of everyday life, where thoughts turn into moral – or immoral – actions, actions become habits, and habits produce character. This, in the end, is how the presence or lack of wisdom determines the fate of an individual.”[2]

ii. understanding the city

Wisdom also calls out, “in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city” (Prov 1.21). “Chief” can mean the best or prime location for commerce, i.e. the gate with the seat of the elders and/or the entrance to the market.

These are cities or metros, not necessarily villages.

Chief can also mean summit. A chief location may be at the top of a hill, adding extra protection, where the city is walled in as well. It can be a rough ascent, along a narrow trail. When I feel isolated at times recently, it is as if wisdom’s voice embraces me with encouragement and she says . . .

We may have quite a hike to get there, but it is always worth the payoff to engage with the elders and to connect with the people of God.

iii. the public gates

As stated above, the city gates are not only there for protection. They are the places of decision with seats for the elders (often with a city square), and an entrance into the market.

In Israel’s history there is no separation of Church and state. Therefore, I see important players at the public city gates like the famous judges and prophets, princes and kings, priests and rabbis, and the Messiah himself during the Triumphal Entry.

The gates often have a large open square, where people gather to hear official news or to decide court cases. There from the hub of religious, cultural, and political life – at the crux of society where major decisions are made – the sacred voice of wisdom cries out.

iv. is she taken seriously today?

I want to draw a very, thin line between wisdom and Christianity.

What is Christian diplomacy? Are not great initiatives at Church boards meetings, PTA meetings, town hall meetings, courts of law, and state legislatures possibly graced by wisdom?

What is Christian music? Is it saved? Do you know that many of the old hymns in our 20th Century hymnbooks were based on old bar-tunes that were popular in the day? The familiarity of the tunes made the Christian lyrics easier to remember. This is wisdom. There has always been an overlap in the arts. In fact, the Primitive Church was a wise and creative leader in the arts during that era.

What is a Christian business? For instance, people just want the best carpenter for their money. If the carpenter does an excellent job and has been in the family business for 30 years, then that is good to know. After 30 years, if the carpenter wants to quit and launch a global ministry, then that is His business. However, He has provided for many “secular” needs as a carpenter. In His wisdom, He perpetuated the family business and probably trained His younger brothers as apprentices.

Does wisdom’s cry always offer the plan of salvation in all of these settings, or does she sometimes just bless the imagination?

With wisdom I really have to draw back a little from the missio Dei. However, with wisdom’s songs, she can definitely serve as preparatio evangelica.

v. wisdom’s challenge

“She says: ‘How long will you simple fools be content with your simplicity? If only you would respond to my reproof, I would fill you with my spirit and make my precepts known to you.’”[3]

Wisdom calls to the “simple ones . . . scorners . . . and fools” (Prov 1.22). It is the young ones, the ones barely starting out, those with youthful ambition and pride, that wisdom calls to. She desires to direct them into promise before they stray into the ways of perdition.

At least this is the primary interpretation. So I could say those young people have their whole lives in front of them. Of course they want to excel.

On the other hand, Carl Rogers ran into the same issue when he developed his famous psychotherapy theory in the 20th Century. He centered on unconditional positive regard. He was one of the first, great therapists to allow the client to direct the relationship, as much as wisdom would allow. Rogers was working with the college population, overachievers in the critic’s mind. However, the wisdom of Rogers eventually influenced counseling on a global scale, simply because all people really do want to change, no matter the age.

vi. wisdom and Pnuematology

In a way, wisdom foreshadows the New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When heeded, wisdom will pour out, or pour into, those who tune into what she shares.

As stated above, wisdom does not offer salvation of the soul, as I understand the New Testament. Neither does she offer the baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation. However, this does imply a life-altering change as one adheres to Godly wisdom stemming from His Word and His principles for righteous living.

It is important to note that the Lord reveals his wisdom, even to the unregenerate. People can abide by Godly principles, without knowing why those principles work, or where those principles originated. Just as sure as one can live in wisdom, one can also reject wisdom, and face judgment (Prov 1.24-29).

vii. wisdom’s reward

Everyone is accountable because all have heard this voice of wisdom. All choose whether to listen or to reject wisdom. Those who reject wisdom certainly should not be surprised when life takes a turn for the worse (Prov 1.30-31). Their “turning away” from wisdom can literally be interpreted as backsliding (Prov 1.32).

“But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.” Prov 1.33, NLT

The New Living Translation captures the essence of this Proverb. Living in peace carries with it the idea of community safety and security. To “live” or “dwell” (KJV) is to tabernacle, a word used in conjunction with the Tabernacle or Tent of the Lord.

Wisdom tabernacles with me, a unique invitation I usually only think of sharing with God and other believers. However, if I take time to keep an eye out, I will find that she shows up more often than I previously realized, and I can be grateful.

“Wisdom is encountered in relationship with one unlike oneself, through whom the most profound secrets of life can be mediated. These are the secret sources of success, and they are found when one has an attitude of openness and receptivity that allows learning and growth in character to take place. After hearing the call of the Lady, the student will pursue true wisdom and will never again confuse instruction with an indoctrination into dull conformity.”[4]


pic credit: Tyson Motsenbocker | cover art Letters to Lost Loves | 03.04.16 | public

First in the series: sin drains one’s life blood | Solomon’s wisdom CLICK HERE

[1] Proverbs 1.20-21, Michael E. Williams, ed., The Storyteller’s Companion to the Bible, vol. 5: Old Testament Wisdom, Abingdon Press, p. 29.
[2] Ibid., p. 30.
[3] Ibid., Proverbs 1.22-23, p. 29.
[4] Ibid., p. 31.

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