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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Proverbs 9:1–6

Wisdom has built her house,
   she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,
   she has also set her table.
She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls
   from the highest places in the town,
“You that are simple, turn in here!”
   To those without sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
   and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Lay aside immaturity, and live,
   and walk in the way of insight.” (NRSV)

In today’s scripture, Lady Wisdom is the host of a great banquet. Before she sets her table, she builds a house. The whole purpose of the structure is hospitality. She is ready to invite the world to come, to gather around a banquet table like no other. Early in Proverbs 9, Wisdom is presented as an independent and autonomous female entity, identified with God, and having previously partnered with God in creation.

According to Will Gafney, Lady Wisdom’s table is a metaphor for the acquisition of wisdom. In rabbinic thought, Wisdom is the Torah, the tree of life. For us, perhaps it’s what we know of scripture and our worship life together, what we know of our belief structure, of Jesus’ teachings. Here’s the rub: Wisdom is more than intellectual knowledge. It’s more than knowing chapter and verse. Wisdom is the combination of head and heart knowledge. In our post-industrial, highly technological world, it’s so easy to compartmentalize, to act out of systems or head knowledge only, or to act out of our own strongly built templates without listening to what the heart says also.

I just watched the first episode of the second season of Queer Eye. Watch it if you can. The team of five guys travels to help a woman finish building the community center of her church in the tiniest of towns. Having been hurt by churches because they are gay, a couple of the men on the team have trouble entering the church structure. The woman, African American and mother of a gay son, talks about her road to accepting her son, the forgiveness she asked for, and her eventual acquisition of wisdom—heart and head knowledge combined. Acquisition of wisdom is everywhere in this episode. The banquet table of riches keeps expanding.

“Wisdom has built her house. . . . She has set her table.”

God of love abounding, fill me with wisdom, wisdom that speaks of the knowledge that comes from my heart. Fill our land with this same kind of wisdom—heart and head knowledge combined. Help us eat and drink and be satisfied because we’ve allowed our hearts to speak. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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