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Words from the Wise

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					Words to (from) the Wise - A reflection on Wisdom and Solomon
Rev. Ken Gray, Church of the Advent, Colwood, BC, Sunday, August 16, 2009

Your favourite proverbs
   The early bird catches the worm
   A stitch in time saves nine
   Neither a borrower nor a lender be

The Book of Proverbs (attributed in part to King Solomon)

TEXT - Prologue
2  For learning about wisdom and instruction,
   for understanding words of insight,
3  for gaining instruction in wise dealing,
   righteousness, justice, and equity;
4  to teach shrewdness to the simple,
   knowledge and prudence to the young—
5  let the wise also hear and gain in learning,
   and the discerning acquire skill,
6  to understand a proverb and a figure,
   the words of the wise and their riddles.

BACKGROUND TO THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Proverbs is a textbook of wisdom. Throughout, the book contrasts
archetypes, the fool and the wise person. From these archetypes
we learn what God expects from us. What does a wise person
look like? An ancient and modern question

Solomon has been known through the ages as a wise man, so it
shouldn’t come as a surprise that this book is a collection of his
wisdom. It is unknown when the book was written except that it
was early in the reign of King Solomon.

Solomon defines wisdom by example. Throughout the book, at
least five major themes emerge:
   1. obtaining wisdom through knowledge and understanding
   2. striving for holiness
   3. avoiding anger and strife
   4. keeping our own counsel
   5. valuing hard work

The person that can apply these values achieves wisdom. In
contrast, the fool is the antithesis of one who values these things.

Obtain knowledge and understanding

Knowledge is the acquisition of a set of facts. Understanding is the
ability to apply and build on facts. One without the other has little
value. He also makes the point that we obtain knowledge from
listening. Over and over Solomon stresses that hearing instruction
leads to wisdom. He further advises receiving constructive
criticism willingly.

     Hear instruction and be wise,
     and do not neglect it.

     Give instruction£ to the wise, and they will become wiser
     still; teach the righteous and they will gain in learning.
The cycle of holy wisdom

If you imagine a circle you can visualize how wisdom and
salvation are achieved. At the top of the circle in the 12 o’clock
position, place yourself with a spiritual mentor. Moving around
the clock to the 3 o’clock position, you’ve gained respect for the
Lord and are learning to understand His holiness. At the 6 o’clock
position, you’ve gained knowledge, understanding and salvation.
At the 9 o’clock position, you are ready to witness and lead others
to understanding. Back to the 12 o’clock position, you are ready to
serve as mentor.

We never really complete the circle. We will be perpetually the
student and the teacher as there is always something new to learn
and gain understanding of in the Word of God.

     The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
     and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

     The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
     but violence£ takes lives away.

Avoid conflict and anger

More energy is wasted on conflict than anything else. Conflicts
and anger are seldom righteous in nature. Even when they start out
over a righteous cause, the problem quickly becomes the conflict
and not the righteous cause.

     The wise are cautious and turn away from evil,
     but the fool throws off restraint and is careless.
     It is honorable to refrain from strife,
     but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Keep your own counsel

Sometimes the very best thing you can do is stay silent. It’s also
good to reveal yourself to only a few people where opinion is
concerned. Avoiding conflict is most easily done by not being
drawn into it in the first place. This is achieved effectively with
silence.

     Even fools who keep silent are considered wise;
     when they close their lips,
     they are deemed intelligent.

Work hard

Most everything worth having has to be worked for and so it is
with wisdom. We don’t gain knowledge and understanding by
sitting idle. Solomon understood the value of hard work and made
it a major theme of the Proverbs.

     Go to the ant, you lazybones;
     consider its ways, and be wise.
     Without having any chief
     or officer or ruler,
     it prepares its food in summer,
     and gathers its sustenance in harvest.
Rewards

With wisdom comes reward. Solomon’s teachings were aimed
mostly at our spirit, because he understood that feeding our spirit
would benefit our lives.

     The wise will inherit honor,
     but stubborn fools, disgrace.

     To get wisdom is to love oneself;
     to keep understanding is to prosper.

IN THE END
  1. Wisdom itself exists through God’s creativeness
  2. it is likened to the female Sophia in the wisdom literature
  3. it is embodied in jesus Christ
  4. it is available to us, for the taking up and implementation

Grace, Justice and peace

				
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