Relationship with wisdom1
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
- Proverbs 4:5-6
We mentioned yesterday that we were going to look at three ways to guard your heart in our post on Friday. We still plan to do that. But today we thought we might offer you a bonus heart-guarding principle: wisdom guards our hearts.
We’ll be talking a lot about wisdom over the next several weeks as we study selections from the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs (as it’s also called) is an ancient collection of sayings, principles, and guidelines from a collection of ancient kings who demonstrated some wisdom in their lives.
In writing about wisdom, our first instinct is to try to give you a definition. But that isn’t what Proverbs does. Proverbs offers synonyms, personifications, metaphors, and commentary but – maddeningly – no definitions. Can you believe that?
Stanley Hauerwas once commented as an aside that the Bible’s refusal to give us precise definitions of words resists our attempts to claim mastery over them and do violence with them. “Wisdom” reduced to a word and defined narrowly can be a weapon and a distraction.
But in a passage like today’s we’re given both synonyms and a personification. Wisdom looks a lot like “understanding” and a father’s “words.” And wisdom looks a lot like a woman who protects, can be loved, and will watch over you. Wisdom emerges from relationships: relationship with your context, with your community and with your heart.
What’s been your relationship with wisdom over the years? How have you sought and found wisdom? Where have you acted unwisely? What have you learned about wisdom from the Lord?
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