The Appeal of Wisdom

The Appeal of Wisdom

Proverbs 8

“Does not wisdom call, and understanding lift up her voice?

 

In chapter 7, folly is presented as a harlot calling out in the streets.  Like a seductress woman of the streets, she makes proud and boisterous calls to lure individuals with her appeal.  She promises pleasure and happiness, but her appeal brings only destruction in the end.  With her appeal for pleasure without consequences, she entices people to her sin.  But in the end, she brings death and destruction to those who follow her.  She even gives the false illusion of religious devotion in that she has fulfilled her spiritual vows and offered up her peace offerings (vs. 15). Yet, her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death (vs27).  Such is the appeal of folly today.  With the same appeal, folly continues to entice people to embrace the new morality of pleasure (both sexual and material). The mantra of her enticement is the same:  Throw aside the laws of God, and you will discover pleasure without punishment and embrace sin without consequence.  But in the end, the appeal is an illusion.  The pursuit of morality apart from God’s moral law leads to the pits of hell rather than the heights of heaven.

In contrast to the appeal of madam folly is the call of Lady wisdom.  Her appeals are not to pleasure but to righteousness, not to sin but to the law of God.  She promises that those who come to her will discover God’s law, for she hates what is evil (13). Ultimately, she brings life in the fullest sense, for she blesses those who pursue after her (18). While Madam Folly strives to entice people away from God, Lady Wisdom is present with God from the beginning of creation.  She was the one through whom God established the moral laws governing the universe (20).  She was at his side, rejoicing in his world and delighting in the creation of mankind. When people follow her, she brings life and deliverance from death (vs. 35). 

However, the description of Lady Wisdom points to something more than the impersonal moral law established by God.  It points to a person who was with God from the very beginning before the world began.  She was the personal agent through whom creation was made.  In 1 Corinthians 1:24, Paul refers to Jesus as “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  In poetic words, Proverbs 8 is more than just an appeal of wisdom; it is a type pointing forward to the ultimate wise man (a type is a person or event in the Old Testament that points forward to a future person or even in God’s prophetic plan).  Ultimately Lady Wisdom is pointing forward to Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of Wisdom.  In our understanding of Christ, we speak of him manifesting the three great offices of the Old Testament.  He was a Prophet, a Priest, and a King.  But there is a fourth office he fulfilled as well, the office of the Wise man.  He was the ultimate man of wisdom who manifested wisdom in the truest sense.  He is both the pattern and end of creation, the one who fully revealed the righteousness of God.

To embrace Christ is to also embrace him as the model of the wise man.  To be like him is to reject the folly of the world, which entices us away from God’s law by promising pleasure without punishment.  Christ calls upon us to embrace him and follow him, and in so doing, we will embrace God's moral law and follow his wisdom. 

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