Wisdom from Above is Desperately Needed Today

So much of what is going wrong, or right, in the world today comes down to the sum total of wise actions by leaders and their most ardent followers. We could stand to learn a thing or two from Solomon.

Painting by Titian (1560)

Over the course of the U.S. presidential election season last year and this, it has become apparent to me that there is a disturbing lack of wisdom on the part of the political class. And I don’t just mean the folks running for office, but the activists and hyped-up crowds that follow one candidate or another.

Now I don’t mean to imply that it’s better to stay out of politics entirely—although I know of Christians who feel their faith has been so tarnished by the machinations of the state that they have indeed sworn off political activism altogether. Rather, what I am suggesting is a reorientation back to what really matters.

The Bible in many places describes the importance of seeking out Wisdom and following God’s leading, rather than the frenzied notions of the crowd and corrupt leaders who stir things up for their own glory and power.

Listen to these words of Solomon:

“Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: ‘How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge?’”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:20-22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A few observations: First of all, I like that wise ol’ Solomon is savvy enough to recognize that the best personification of Wisdom is a Woman. 😀

Secondly, I find it interesting that she is portrayed here as a woman scored and mocked…crying out in desperation for justice, compassion, and discernment on Main Street and on Wall Street. (In Biblical times, the city gate was a place where important business transactions were conducted or major announcements were made).

Finally, the “fools” and “simpletons” who are the object of Wisdom’s beratement aren’t given any wiggle room to make excuses like “well I didn’t know” or “nobody taught me right”. They’re not simpleminded because of ignorance outside of their control. They choose to be fools. They have made an effort to “hate knowledge” and avoid improving their understanding. In fact, they take a certain pride in the mocking attitude they have.

The good news is a choice of attitude is not forever. How long…. Yes, indeed, it’s never too late to change course, to follow a different path, to decide to pursue godly wisdom and knowledge and leave behind the peer-pressure of ignorance and mob stupidity. The Bible is chock-full of second chances, and repentance is never far off.

Later on in Wisdom’s speech, she says:

“‘For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.’”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:32-33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Living in peace? No fear of harm? Wouldn’t we all like that! Isn’t it interesting though that if you ask many people what will bring about a world of peace and freedom from harm, they won’t answer “Wisdom!” It’s usually something else: strength, power, money, war, fame, religion, atheism, science, meditation, organic food…all right, I jest, but you get the point. Maybe it’s time we acknowledge that, while in our modern age we have more technological and informational sophistication than at any other time in human history, our collective level of wisdom remains frighteningly low. Is the human race getting wiser at all? Ahem….

“Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.

For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭2:2-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Tune…concentrate…ask…search…seek…I really appreciate the bold verbiage of the NLT translation here. It makes it very clear that, when it comes to the pursuit of wisdom, we are to take action—and quite specific action at that. Wisdom is compared with high intrinsic value such as silver; a fantastic treasure that is initially buried out of reach and must be deliberately sought after, perhaps at great personal cost.

And where does this treasure come from originally? Spoiler alert: its origin is uniquely Divine. And it possesses many fine qualities:

“The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness [divine justice].”
James 3:17-18 NLT

As the world seems to spin faster and faster and you feel yourself getting bogged down by the inanities of the 24-hour news cycle, it’s prudent to remember that God’s timetable is not our timetable. What is the first quality of Love? Patience. Let’s commit ourselves to seeking this pure, gentle, and peace-loving “wisdom from above” for our families, our businesses, our communities, and our nations—patiently and deliberately. It’s not too late to make a difference and reap a harvest of Good Things.

Jared White