“To be wise is to know reality, to discern it. A discerning person notices things, attends to things, picks up on things. He notices the difference between tolerance and forgiveness, pleasure and joy, sentimentality and compassion.”
“Discernment shows a kind of attentive respect for reality. The discerning person notices not only the differences between things, but also the connections between them.”
“The really discerning person, the one whose discernment marks genuine wisdom, does not merely inspect reality, or analyze it: the one who discerns also loves.”
“To discern realities at their deeper levels, we have to become engaged in them, to bring both empathy and care to what we know. Discernment of the hopes and fears of other persons, for example, depends on compassion for them: knowledge of these persons comes in to us only if our hearts go out to them” (Cornelius Planinga Jr., “Not The Way It’s Suppose to Be”).
A voice worth hearing
- “Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square, at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, at the entrance of the gates of the city, she utters her sayings.” (pr. 1:20-21)
- “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (pr. 3:13-15).
- “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7; cf. Ephesians 5:15-17).
To the man in the street
“At the head of the noisy streets”, “at the entrance of the gates in the city”— in the city, wisdom is pictured “shouting”, “raising her voice”, “crying out”, and “uttering her sayings”, or “making her speech.” Wisdom is not presenting herself in the quiet place of meditation. She does not call out in the halls of academia. “. . . the offer of wisdom is to the man in the street, and for the business of living, not to an elite for the pursuit of scholarship” (Derek Kidner, TOTC).
Wisdom “. . . strides from the ‘open squares’ (plazas used as markets) to the boulevards rumbling with the noise of traffic . . . to the several ‘gates’ where open spaces allowed people to assemble for trade or official business. No behind-the-hand seductive whispering here; wisdom is a public figure, making her claims in the open and calling her disciples boldly to follow her” (David Hubbard, p. 55, Communicators Commentary).
The fear of the Lord
The truth that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom “keeps the shrewdness of proverbs from slipping into mere self-interest, the perplexity of Job from mutiny, and the disillusion of Ecclesiastes from final despair.” (The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, Derek Kidner).
I knew I needed wisdom
When I began ministry many years ago, a scene out of the life of Solomon greatly influenced me and became my prayer.
- “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’ Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.’ ‘Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’” (I Kings 3:5-9).
I was unaware that gaining wisdom necessitated many hardships and trials. Gratefully, we have a promise of wisdom from God when we face the perplexing circumstances that so often come with our trials –
- “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
this course has not ended,