Coronavirus Pandemic Tuesday April 28th, 2020

Psalm 134; Proverbs 8:32-9:6; 1 Peter 2:1-3

Tuesday 28 April- Rev. Jerry Eve

Proverbs is the central book of Wisdom literature in the Old Testament. It lies between Job and Psalms on one side and Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs on the other. It is the first of three books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs) that are traditionally assigned to King Solomon. It’s a book which speaks of wisdom, but also at times personifies Wisdom.

And so, at Proverbs 1:20, we have, ‘Listen! Wisdom is calling out in the streets and marketplaces;’ at Proverbs 8:1, ‘Listen! Wisdom is calling out. Reason is making herself heard;’ at Proverbs 8:11, ‘I am Wisdom, I am better than jewels,’ and in the following verse, ‘I am Wisdom. I have insight; I have knowledge and sound judgment.’

This passage we have read from Proverbs today has, I think, the best personification at verse 9:1: ‘Wisdom has built her house and made seven columns for it.’ This reminds me of the five pillars of Islam. Also, the number seven was Hebrew code for whole or complete (as in seven days). This is interesting because, while in our Protestant Bibles there are only five books of Wisdom literature; Hebrew, Orthodox and Catholic Bibles include two books that form part of our Apocrypha i.e. Ecclesiasticus and Sirach; making seven in all.

In the New Testament, Jesus is said, in Luke 2, to be ‘full of wisdom’ (verse 40), and to grow, ‘both in body and wisdom’ (verse 52). And yet, while that tradition of wisdom continues on into the New Testament, there are also places where it is undermined:

  1. One of these is in Luke as well where at Luke 7:34-35 God’s wisdom is shown to be the very opposite of the sort of wisdom that would shun disreputable people such gluttons, wine drinkers and tax collectors.
  2. Another is in 1 Corinthians 1:17: “Christ sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom.” What this might allude to is that sometimes we think we need to be very clever in order to have faith, and Paul says, “No, not at all. In fact, if we do think of ourselves as clever, we might think of ourselves as superior and be less approachable, and less effective.
  3. In that same chapter there’s another reason (verses 20-25) i.e. that those who set store in wisdom (or ration), such as the Greeks, will fail to understand the significance of the crucified Christ. For, there was an ignominy associated with execution – a sort of ‘no smoke without fire’ attitude.

Turning to our epistle for today, from 1 Peter, the attitude we should have isn’t that of some doctor of this that and the next thing who’s very clever; but, true faith in God actually manifests itself in other – far less academic – ways. We need, therefore, to be born again, and in need of spiritual milk.

Let us pray:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen. (Reinhold Niebuhr)

 


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