The Personification of Wisdom

"Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways. Heed instruction and be wise and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at may gates, waiting at my doorposts." Proverbs 8:32-34

When I was serving as a missionary Journeyman in East Africa, I met many interesting people. One of my most memorable evenings was spent having dinner and an extended conversation with a Catholic priest serving the area around Lake Nyasa. He travelled on a small motor scooter that the nationals referred to in Swahili as a "piki, piki." You have to say it out loud to catch their play on words. The little scooter could be heard laboring down the mountain roads with a steady "piki, piki, piki, piki" sound coming from the engine. The Swahili language was always so adaptable and in this case a word was created that made such a practical application for the sound of a motor scooter engine.

Over coffee the "Piki Piki Priest" and I talked a great deal about Jesus. I asked him how he kept his walk with Jesus a very warm relationship and avoided the trap of Christianity becoming a cold religion. He gave me a great insight by telling me that he had grown accustomed to reading through Proverbs every morning. I told him that I wasn't familiar with Proverbs as a source for discovering more about the Person of Jesus Christ. He smiled and suggested to me that Proverbs would take on a more profound meaning about the life of Christ if I began to use the name of Jesus in place of the word wisdom. I had heard my father, Don Miller, recommend that to me years earlier, but that was before I turned 21. As I grew older Dad got smarter, but in 1974 I was still not applying all the wisdom he had passed on to me. It is amazing how young people will be open to the same advice if it has a different return address. This is very frustrating to parents, but it is something that every generation of parents has discovered to be painful, but true.

Proverbs 8 definitely comes alive when the name of Jesus is introduced in place of the word for wisdom. Jesus is seen as the greatest blessing the Lord can give to a person. He is pictured as the master workman standing alongside God at creation. He is the one who is the source of life and favor from God. When I read this chapter, I am reminded that wisdom is not a concept or a philosophy of life. Wisdom is the result of a relationship that is cultivated on a daily basis with the one who is the source of wisdom. To know the right thing to do, and when to do it, I must spend time with the right person and follow His lead.

Lloyd-John Ogilvie was the long time pastor of The First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California. He later became the Chaplain to the U.S. Senate. One of his books has been a source of encouragement to me, "Discovering God's Will in Your Life." He states, "Discovering God's will in your life (in specifics) comes out of consistent companionship with God." There is not much to be gained from the panic search for truth. He encourages the truth seeker to get with God on a regular basis and draw from a deep reservoir of His wisdom for the choices that must be made every day. That made sense to me in December 1986 and it has passed the test of time in my life for almost a quarter century. More importantly, it has stood the test of time for 3,000 years. Proverbs 8 underscores the benefits and blessings of developing the daily habit of listening and then applying the wise counsel offered by Jesus.

If this suggestion makes you feel a bit uncomfortable then I wouldn't recommend you do it. What works for me is not meant to be a mandate for you. However, doesn't Proverbs 8 read like a bio sheet for Jesus? Jesus was interested in His followers recognizing Him as the guide for the right path to take, the only word to trust, and the only life to live. Jesus has always been Plan A, and God does not have a Plan B. When Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6), He was identifying Himself as the source of and the personification of wisdom.

"For he who finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord." Proverbs 8:36