I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Proverbs 2:1-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Value of Wisdom
2 My child, if you accept my words
and treasure up my commandments within you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 if you indeed cry out for insight,
and raise your voice for understanding;
4 if you seek it like silver,
and search for it as for hidden treasures—
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly,
8 guarding the paths of justice
and preserving the way of his faithful ones.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
There are portions of the Bible known as “wisdom literature.” Most of the wisdom literature is found in the Hebrew Scriptures: most prominently in Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. But we also see it again in passages of the New Testament where the wisdom literature is picked up and reflected in the teachings of Jesus and other writings.
Biblical wisdom has survived the ages and has spoken and continues to speak today. Today’s reading comes from the book of Proverbs in the Hebrew scriptures. This section of Proverbs extols the value of wisdom and seeking wisdom. Wisdom is more than just knowing a lot of things. It is a combination of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Wisdom is a gift. It is valuable. It is to be pursued.
In 1 Kings 3 the Lord appeared to King Solomon in a dream as he worshipped at Gibeon and said “Ask, and I will grant it.” It was early in his reign. He might have asked for wealth, or for a long life, or to be free from opposition. But, he didn’t. He asked for wisdom: “Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind.” God was pleased—as his dream went—and granted his request.
Do you remember what he said to the Lord in a beautiful prayer? “I am only a child”—he wasn’t really, he was probably twenty years old or so—but he felt like a child. He was following in David’s footsteps and those were big shoes to fill. He felt unworthy to be the leader of the nation. He said, “This is a great people”—the Hebrew really says, “This is a heavy people.” It’s a heavy burden. “Lord, what I want is an understanding heart. Give me wisdom.” It’s a beautiful prayer – a prayer that Harry Truman prayed at his inauguration as President. When he was sworn in, he prayed that same prayer of Solomon, a prayer for wisdom for the heavy burden of leadership.
When we read the pages of scripture, both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, we realize that wisdom is spoken about almost 350 times. It is not a marginal issue. Wisdom stands near the center of our life of faith. Wisdom is extolled as that which is most precious of all that we might possess. Proverbs 8:11 personifies wisdom and says, “Wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”
Wisdom is knowing the difference between accepting and changing.
Reinhold Niebuhr asked for wisdom in a little prayer that has become a classic and is used by Alcoholics Anonymous. I grew up with that prayer in my home. It was on a plaque hanging on the wall and I saw it daily: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Wisdom is knowing the difference between what we can and cannot change. It is knowing the difference between accepting what we cannot change and changing what we can.
Wisdom is knowing the difference between right and wrong.
A wise person can discern the difference between right and wrong and then make the right decisions. General Omar Bradley in a 1948 speech said, “The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.” [Omar Bradley in a speech, November 10, 1948, quoted in Christianity Today, February 9, 1998, 78]
Today we have knowledge beyond Solomon’s wildest dreams. Humanity has never had so much knowledge, so many facts, and so many experts. We are full of knowledge and yet we’re starving for wisdom.
Wisdom is knowing the difference between truth and lie.
Psalm 51:6, in a prayer to God, “You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.”
Wisdom is knowing the difference between important and insignificant.
What a great blessing it is when we devote our lives and primary energy to what is really important. Wisdom knows the difference between that which is unimportant and that which is of supreme significance. Wisdom knows the difference between the value of material possessions and personal relationships. Wisdom knows the difference between the value of things and love. Wisdom knows the difference between the value of fame and faith. And wisdom leads us to make the right choices.
Wisdom is God-Centered and God-given.
Proverbs 9 says that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. This is better translated “the awe of God” or “the reverence of God.” Wisdom begins by recognizing God and the awesome nature of God. And, very quickly, because of who God is and what God has done for us in Christ, our reverence for God moves on to reverence for other people, for all people. And it moves on to reverence for all of life. There is a deep reverence that marks wisdom that distinguishes it from simply being smart.
Gaining wisdom is a life-long process. One who is really wise is always a student. Never does the time come when learning ceases. One who is really wise is always on the journey, always growing in wisdom because wisdom is not some destination out ahead of us. Rather, wisdom is a gift given along the way to make the journey possible, to bring meaning and purpose to the journey, to enrich the lives of others who are on the journey with us, to build up the community of those who are traveling together with us. It’s not a destination out there; it’s a gift given to be our companion along the way.
Rabbi Ben-Azai put it this way, “In seeking wisdom thou art wise; in imaging that thou hast attained it thou art a fool.”
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Ge Though My Vision”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster