October 15, 2017
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
“The LORD Giveth Wisdom”
Our Old Testament Lesson this morning is from the Book of Proverbs – which is, of course, all about wisdom. Please consider seven observations on wisdom offered to preserve us in our pilgrimage to the Celestial City.
First, the world is a very foolish place! And our days, I am sorry to say, seem more void of sanity – let alone wisdom — than all others! The earth speaks of the glory of the Lord, but is covered by fallen humankind which never stops talking… never stops spewing forth man’s substitute wisdom!
Verse four tells us that to find wisdom in such a world requires focus! We must search for it as those who search for silver – evoking images of people scouring the earth with their beeping metal detectors… or in our high-tech day, prospecting from remote-sensing satellites in orbit overhead.
If we would find wisdom, don’t count on it coming to us! We must go to it! Like treasure hunters – searching the seas for sunken pirate ships like the Black Swan discovery ten years ago which yielded 17-tons of gold and silver coins!
Second, verse six informs us that it is the LORD Who gives wisdom. He is the portal we must pass through if we would enter the realm where wisdom is discovered. And this makes sense… because wisdom is essentially seeing the world from God’s point of view… something we cannot find on our own!
There is the type of historian who can rattle off dates and places and important personages. Then there is the wise historian who through the same names and dates has a much bigger picture, for he can see the direction and meaning of history – a much more breathtaking gift, by far.
The Wisdom literature God gives us in the Bible includes first of all the Book of Job, then Proverbs, then Ecclesiastes (written by Solomon), then six of the Psalms.
In the New Testament, the Book of St. James has been included in the Bible’s wisdom literature.
And of the fourteen Intertestamental Books (located in between the Old and New Testaments) — more commonly known as the Apocrypha (which means “hidden things”) — we find nestled away two more books which would fall in the “wisdom literature” category. The book of Ecclesiasticus (which means Of the Church) and the Wisdom of Solomon.
If you and I would be truly wise, the input of these seven sources is indispensable! Wisdom hath builded her house, the Bible says, she hath hewn out her seven pillars
Third, God never forces us, as it were, to read His Word and obtain wisdom! He just tells us that His sons and daughters will indeed read it… and study and meditate upon it. My son, if thou wilt receive my words…
Years ago, I witnessed an exchange between a very godly preacher and a very abrasive critic – who asked a very acerbic question! “Why do you follow God’s laws so slavishly?”
To which the old preacher stroked his beard thoughtfully, then gently — but eloquently – replied, “I do not follow God’s laws as a slave… I follow them as a son (adopted by His mercy and grace).”
I have never forgotten that… and indeed, have adopted it for myself. And encourage you to do the same. If you and I would be His sons and daughters, He will see us reading His seven pillars… He will find us contemplating such wisdom gifts He has given to us freely.
Fourth, verse seven informs us that our Heavenly Father is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
A buckler is a small shield (no greater than 18” in diameter). Unlike a full-size shield used in large-scale battles to protect oneself against arrows, fiery darts, and other projectiles… the buckler was used in hand-to-hand combat! Not defensively to absorb the heavy blows of an axe, but to parry, deflect, shove, strike, and pin an opponent in life-or-death conflicts!
The parallel is, of course, obvious. Those of us (hopefully all of us) who have been equipped carefully with our Heavenly Father’s wisdom have been given the means to defend ourselves against godless logic, ideas, rationales, temptations, philosophies, intimidations!
Fifth, in verse eight we are told that the Ancient of Days through His wisdom preserves the way of his saints! These are beautiful words!
And if you know his life’s story, you might be reminded of Colonel Sanders. As in KFC’s Colonel Sanders? Yes, that is right!
When his father died, he and his younger two siblings were left in the care of their poor mother (who sewed clothing for neighbors to bring in enough funds to get by). She told him that he (age 5) would need to learn to cook for the family. There was no complaining – and good thing — for as we all know this was the start of what would lead to his great contribution! He once said that he was seven when he baked his first bread.
His mother had him take his two younger siblings to church every Sunday morning – rain or shine – two-and-a-half mile round trip! It is often in such trying and confining conditions that the priceless seeds of wisdom are planted! Such was the case with Colonel Sanders! At the age of eleven, he hired out to an elderly German at $4.00 a month. Every evening there were cows to milk, sixteen of them, seven days a week. All to help his mother and family.
He later put several years of back-breaking work into a small motel and restaurant business. They failed. At the age of 40 he had tried his hand at blacksmithing, running ferryboats, railroading and selling. More disappointments! He finally reached a discovery — people had to eat. It was then in 1952 that he franchised his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Without any education beyond the eighth grade, he on one occasion quoted Will Rogers saying, “I don’t know what all these college graduates are going to do for jobs if we eighth grade failures don’t take care of them.”
He continued his work until his passing at the age of 90! One of the great tributes came from an admirer who observed that it was a politician who promised a chicken in every pot… but it was a down-to-earth businessman like Colonel Sanders who brought it to pass! Before dying, he said that God had given him something deep within his soul. An inner experience, a new birth… peace… the work of the Holy Spirit! Such are the ways of wisdom planted in one’s youth.
Sixth, the scene shown on the front of this morning’s program depicts the first public reading from the Great Bible (by the command of Henry VIII) to people assembled in the crypt of the Old St. Paul’s Church in London. Their reverence, appreciation and satisfaction is easily seen on their faces!
It was the love of the Scriptures which brought wisdom to transform the superstition and illiteracy and poverty of England into the knowledge and righteousness and wealth that later characterized Queen Victoria’s day – and caused her to document her summary for perpetuity (and I quote):
That book [The Bible] accounts for the supremacy of England.
Seventh, this morning’s beautiful collect asks the Almighty to furnish us grace so we may follow Him aright! This collect is so old, it predates the Reformers – and originally resided in Latin. Its meaning in Latin is to “pursue eagerly.” Not some nonchalant “take it or leave it” hobby!
The LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding!
So it was from the beginning. So has it always been. And so shall it ever be, world without end.