The other day I was browsing here and there in my old copy of William Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour. I was reading absent mindedly (not a practice I recommend) because I was thinking of a passage in Proverbs Chapter 8 that has laid hold of me for many days.
Blessed is the man that heareth me [that is, Wisdom], watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
I was savouring the words in my thoughts. “Heareth me… watching daily at my gates… waiting at the posts of my doors…” Here is someone with a one-track mind. Someone intently focused day in and day out.
Suddenly before my eyes on the page of Gurnall’s book was this:
It becomes thee, poor creature, to wait at the posts of wisdom…
Could you be speaking to me, dear Lord, poor creature that I am?
It’s a wonderful chapter, Proverbs Chapter 8. Wisdom cries out to all men (this is gender inclusive language).
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men.
What is the cry?
O ye simple, understand wisdom, and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
And so while the cry goes out to all, the implication is that those who are wise in their own eyes are not likely to hear Wisdom’s cry: this is for the simple, for fools.
I wish we had space to savour every word in the chapter. About halfway through we come to this:
The LORD possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old.
I was set up [anointed] from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust [the primal dust, NKJV] of the world.
When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth:
When He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep:
When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth,
Then I was by Him as one brought up with Him [as a master craftsman, NKJV]; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.
And so the veil is drawn back a little; we begin to comprehend that the One who is speaking here is the Living Wisdom and Word of God Himself, who was with God in the beginning, and by whom God created all things. It is not merely that God in illimitable power created all things; all that He did, as we discover in this chapter, He created with transcendent Wisdom.
And therefore it is Wisdom who says:
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
“Therefore…” Whenever you see a therefore, find out what it’s there for. This one is there to cause it to dawn on us that those who hear Wisdom’s instruction shall become Wisdom’s own work, akin to the wonders recounted in this chapter, which to read fills the heart with awe.
And so we come to the verses that have arrested me:
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.
“Whoso findeth me findeth life.” That one line has especially captivated me; this is why the call is to hear, and watch, and wait so intently and so continually. “Whoso findeth me findeth life.”
To find wisdom is to find life. God asked Job (if you recall from last time):
Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom?
No, not by Job’s wisdom; God’s wisdom, which He gave freely to the hawk, wisdom with life in it, wisdom empowering it to fly. The bird of the air and the beast of the field, the tree of the forest and the rock of the hill, the clouds above and the fountains of the deep—everything God created—is a revelation of some facet of His eternal Wisdom, who, as God’s Master Craftsman, wrought all His works, rejoicing continually before Him, and was daily His delight in the bringing forth of the old creation.
You know where I’m headed with this, don’t you.
For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before prepared that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).
“Created in Christ Jesus…” The new creation! And, “we are His workmanship…” We—that is, the Church. The word workmanship is the Greek poema, which means this Master Craftsman’s handiwork, His masterpiece, the project He has poured His all into, even Himself. It is His life’s work, the crowning piece of all His wisdom and works, beyond which there is not, nor ever can be, any greater, because the Church of Jesus Christ is His very own fullness: “the church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” I know, it’s a far cry from what we see in our world around us today. But let us tred softly, and remind ourselves that we don’t see it all; much of the work is behind this Artist’s veil, and He—Wisdom the Master Craftsman—is not finished yet.
Wisdom is, as we mentioned above, the Logos, the Word who became flesh—our Lord Jesus Christ. But I am almost reluctant to state this, lest we file this in our mental filing cabinet as more information in the “Things I Already Know” file. We need to look at this the other way around. To hear our Lord Jesus Christ is to hear Wisdom speaking the word that is life, and which, as we respond, builds us uniquely and vitally into Wisdom’s new-creation building project.
If we’re not hearing (that is, hearkening to) that kind of word, we’re not really hearing our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so, I lay this to heart. I take my place with those among the sons of men to whom Wisdom cries—the simple, the fools.
But I am told that though I am such, I am blessed…
…If I hear Wisdom’s instruction.
…If I take my place at Wisdom’s gate, watching daily.
…If I stand at the posts of Wisdom’s doors, waiting as a servant waits.
For I know that Wisdom shall surely speak. And I will find life…
…And draw out from God His favour.
Wisdom continues with these somber words:
But He that sinneth against me [or, as some versions have it, he who misses me, or does not find me] wrongeth his own soul. All they that hate me love death.
What a fearful warning. Could not this wonderful chapter be concluded on a happier note? But that’s the way Wisdom ends the chapter.
I’ll leave it there too.