Lady Wisdom—the Bible Superhero of Proverbs
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you.”
When we think of Albert Einstein, we think “genius” or “scientist.” Mother Teresa is perfect compassion and service. Modern-day superheroes embody archetypes, too. Superman is like Zeus, Greek god of the sky. Batman is like Hades, god of the underworld. These figures personify larger concepts and ideals.
The book of Proverbs personifies Wisdom as a woman. She invites the reader to listen to her and emulate her ways. Lady Wisdom stands in contrast with Lady Folly (Prov. 9). Scripture tells us that we all must choose which of these two we will befriend. Will we be wise or foolish?
Lady Wisdom is a public figure. She cries out in the street, stands in the market square and speaks at the city gates. Wisdom is meant to be available to all, informing our civic life in pursuit of the common good. Society works better when people live wisely! Lady Wisdom takes a protective role, guarding people and warning them of danger, not so much from external threats but rather from the people’s own internal attitudes: simple-mindedness, scoffing, ignoring counsel.
Some people “delight in their scoffing.” This is especially true online; too many are overly zealous with critical tweets or comments that aim to take down anyone who disagrees with them. Lady Wisdom would say: “Don’t be that guy.” Hold your tongue; be quick to listen and slow to comment.
Others don’t “heed reproof.” In modern terms, we might say that they don’t listen well to feedback. There’s a big difference between passively hearing outside advice and actively responding. What do you do when you’re criticized? How do you respond to performance reviews? Do you react defensively, or do you find ways to learn from others?
One practical way we can follow the path of Lady Wisdom is to surround ourselves with wise mentors. A mentor is someone old enough to know who he is. Don’t only hang out with people who reinforce what you already think. Find people who see the bigger picture, and if they give you reproof, heed it.
This passage, and the entire book of Proverbs, serves as a cautionary tale: We also come to personify either wisdom or folly. How do we want to be known in our workplaces, churches, and communities? Are we recalcitrant, divisive, problematic? Or will we become models of wisdom and prudence? The choice is ours.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What kind of reputation do you have in your local community? Are you someone who always works with excellence? Are you a joy to work with? Who in your community is considered to be wise? Why?
PRAYER: Only wise God, guard us from folly and guide us according to your ways. May we be friends of wisdom and live as you intend, with teachable spirits and humble hearts. Amen.
READ THE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT:
Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
"How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
and because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you,
when panic strikes you like a storm,
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster."