The proverbs of Solomon, son of david, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth... --Proverbs 1:1–4
…to give prudence to the simple… With God, there is no intelligentsia, no ruling class, no haves distinguishing themselves from the have-nots. The book of Proverbs was written so that the simple could become the prudent, the young could become knowledgeable, and those without wisdom can become wise.
The wisest of all will be those who are the thirstiest learners. If we come to this collection of proverbs seeing ourselves as being already wise and in a class above the simple and young, we will miss the gift of actual wisdom. The information gleaned from our packed bookshelves and hours of sermons will calcify into a weighty knowledge base that is difficult to apply.
The currency of wisdom is humility. The wise realize how much they still have to learn.
Why is it that skyscrapers feel so important? Their powerful, expensive shapes tower over us and speak of the prosperity and success of their builders and occupants. There is something energizing about the idea of thousands of people living thousands of lives, each behind their own tiny rectangle window.
Looking from the ground, those towers seem enormous. Looking at a skyline we instinctively compare to see which bar plots the highest point on the graph. But look from above, from a perch in the clouds or behind a camera in a satellite or from heaven itself and no single building stands out from the rest. Those buildings purportedly scrape the sky, but the sky defies being scraped.
Now here we are as human beings, as Christians, comparing ourselves. We speak of someone as being “a giant in his field,” an elite, a saint, higher than the rest. But we are looking from the ground up. From the heavens, no such distinctions are reasonable.
There is a great, yawning gap between any merit or accomplishment on the part of humankind and that of God. And the wisdom of God starts on his side of that gap.
Proverbs is God doing what he always does: he is coming our way, reaching down from heights beyond astronomical. He is so far above us that our interplanetary charts, our intergalactic measurements, and our wildest astrophysical theories only fail in describing how great are these heavens which cannot contain God.
But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! – Solomon
When I hear that the simple can become prudent, I breathe a sigh of relief. Because when I compare myself to those with seminary degrees, those who have written volumes on important topics, and even those with a quieter, gentler wisdom, I cannot seem to climb that ladder. The rungs are too far apart for my stubby legs.
But here is the God of the universe, the God of all history and knowledge, “stooping down to make me great” as the old NIV puts it. He says to me, “simple one, let me show you wisdom.” And the Book of Proverbs is only one of his teaching tools.