The best storytellers know that to really get a reader’s attention, it’s smart to create a twist or come from an unexpected angle. Some of the most fun discussions I’ve had in a book club center around how we experienced a writer’s use of various literary tools like flashback, multiple narrators, or subtle foreshadowing to tell their story. In the beginning of Proverbs, Solomon’s writing is straightforward, almost textbook-like, explaining that the goal of the book is “for attaining wisdom and discipline.” Then about halfway through chapter 1, Solomon makes a turn into more poetic writing by personifying wisdom into Wisdom, a wise, discerning woman who is desperately trying to get the attention of the “mockers” and “fools” who aren’t listening to her. Her voice is urgent and pleading. The streets are noisy, and yet she seeks to be heard over the chaos. What follows is lyrical in its rhythm and flow—and surprisingly, unexpectedly harsh. It’s challenging to read Wisdom’s predictions of “calamity” and “distress” for those who have ignored her. Frankly, passages like this can be troubling and ones we’d rather rush through. Yet isn’t that exactly what the voice of Wisdom is pleading with us not to do? While the poetic language is severe, just maybe it’s designed to get our attention.
Wise adults are willing to slow down and listen to the sage voice of our Wonderful Counselor. Maybe we don’t believe that we are so bold as to “hate knowledge,” but our refusal to center down and attune to God and God’s wisdom can be just as dangerous. Actually it may be even more dangerous because we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that we are listening and are without consequences. May we notice how God is seeking to get our attention and call us to wise living.
God of Wisdom, draw us to center down and be attentive to your guidance for our lives. Amen.
Through the scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God shows the paths of righteousness and warns against the ways of destruction. The writer of Proverbs describes this as the voice of Wisdom crying out, yet some refuse to listen—to their peril. The psalmist rejoices in the law of the Lord, for God’s decrees teach us how to live well. Living a godly life includes paying attention to our speech. How can we, James asks, praise God with our lips and then curse others with those same lips? Peter is tripped up by his words in Mark. He declares Jesus to be the Messiah, yet in the next scene he recklessly rebukes Jesus for speaking of his death. Our words matter, and God desires purity and consistency.
Read Proverbs 1:20-33. How clearly do you hear Wisdom’s call? What prevents you from answering that call?
Read Psalm 19. Where in creation do you hear God speaking to you?
Read James 3:1-12. How do you use your words in wise ways? When do you struggle with your words?
Read Mark 8:27-38. Who do you say that Jesus is?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.