Proverbs 14:8

It is the wisdom of the clever to understand where they go,
but the folly of fools misleads.

It can also be rendered, The wisdom of the prudent understands their way, but the folly of the fools deceives/misleads.  

This continues the theme of the “Way.”  I don’t like the concept of the clever, because in modern senses it feels to crafty or sly.  Though cleverness is neither good nor bad, but the ability of a person to discern and gain insight of a situation, it is usually partnered with selfish intent, manipulation, and trickery.  Thus, I use prudent, depicting the eager seeking of knowledge and the conservative use of time and resources for the best end.  

The prudent, those who seek the cry of wisdom, don’t necessarily know the way.  The wisdom of the prudent does.  This may seem like splitting hairs.  However, If wisdom is a separate entity, calling out to the prudent, they seek her, and she knows the way.  As they seek her, they gain more glimpses of wisdom and better know the path, but only wisdom truly knows the way.  It feels quite a bit like the Christian understanding of the Spirit.  We seek the movement of the Spirit, discerning where it goes and directs, but we do not know the way absolutely.  Only the Spirit knows. 

The same goes for folly.  The problem with folly is, instead of directing a person on the way, it blinds them.  It convinces the fool that they are on the right path, and deafens their ears to the cries of wisdom.  Thus, they assume it is wisdom, when it is deceiving them, and all others who listen.  Both the prudent and the fool may show the same dedication to the search, but it is the voice of folly or wisdom that determines their way.  

My mind drifts to the story in acts of the sorcerer who wants to buy the power of the Spirit.  Folly acts interestingly here.  It allows the sorcerer to see the truth of wisdom, the life giving grace of God.  However, it distorts the way to get there.  Instead of revealing the laws of the Kingdom of God, one must love God and neighbor and the self sacrifice of Christ, as the way to wisdom, it seeks wisdom along the world’s power.  Money is offered to gain the ultimate power for the self.  This is the direct opposite of the Way of the Spirit.  The Spirit is not the tool, nor is it the goal.  The Spirit is the author and director, and we become the tools.  Thus, folly deceives and misleads.  It actively reverses the way of the Wisdom of God.


God and Wisdom 1: the Awe-fulness of God

Before we even greet wisdom, she tells us what we need to know:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

And again:

Ecclesiasticus 1:1 All wisdom is from the Lord,
and with him it remains for ever…

14 To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
she is created with the faithful in the womb.

And even:

Job 1:1 There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

So, wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord.  But what exactly does this mean?  Is it a fear where we run away and keep our distance, never to truly encounter God?  If it is this, then we have mastered the fear of the Lord.   Or is fear something else entirely?

For the sages of Israel, the Fear of the Lord was an attitude that is both fascinated with the divine mind, and convicted that fear of the Lord leads to life. When the fear of the Lord is partnered with the fascination, fear turns from cowardice to reverence.  Those participate in the daily search for God’s wisdom do so out of fascination and love for the divine, and so they are fearful, or reverently in awe of God. [1]

So, this is where we begin, developing our fascination and reverence toward God.

But who is God?  What can the simplicity of wisdom tell us about God?  It affirms for us the very beginning of scripture:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…

Proverbs 3:19-20The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.

And in God’s act of creation, God created wisdom first:

Proverbs 8:22-23The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

God is not only the God who created nature and the laws of nature, but God also created the very wisdom that holds all of creation in order.  All orders and laws, all processes and thoughts that lead to life do so because they are of God.  And thus, our fascination with nature should inspire our fascination and reverence toward God.  We should find ourselves in the awkward place of both wanting to rejoice before God (Prov. 8:30) and in humble silence (Job 40:4).  God’s revelation through creation should overwhelm us with the wonder and unfathomable magnitude of God’s order (Job. 38-41).

Even the Gospel of John begins by pointing us to this God:

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.[2]

These verses should direct our fascination toward God, and focus it toward the desire to know God.  God has created, and God has revealed Godself in the act of creation.  But John emphasizes something that Proverbs assumes: God’s relationship to God’s Word defines God’s relationship to creation.[3]

Our fascination and reverence should create a desire to know more about the God almighty!  It should drive us toward investigating God’s relationship with the Word and Wisdom of God, and with creation.

(Up next: Almighty God of Creation lives in creation)

[1] Gammie, Holiness in Israel 126, 133-134

[2] The logos of John 1 is a Greek equivalent of logic, order, or wisdom – Chacham of Hebrew

[3] Ford, Christian Wisdom.  55 “In the opening verses John reconceives ‘the beginning’, and also reconceives God in terms of relationship with the word.  The depth and breadth of all meaning, all wisdom, is traceable to this relationship.”