“I’ve said the same thing in different ways 100 times.”
These were the words from a church health consultant I worked with. The playbook of most consultants looks remarkably similar as they move from place to place. It’s not that they’re immovable, it’s just that they’ve seen the same thing so many times, they’ve just about heard it all.
And so most consultants end up saying the same thing in different ways hundreds of times over. I’m glad they do.
Maybe you’re not like me, but I have to hear something a few times before it becomes part of me. Once (sadly) is just not enough for me to get it through my thick head.
The Lord does this to us too. He calls over and over and tells us very similar things in different ways hundreds of times because we need to hear it.
Proverbs 8:4-5 teaches us…
“To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.Proverbs 8:4-5 New International Version
The Lord wants us to seek wisdom. He offers it freely. In our passage today, Proverbs 8:4-5 wisdom is personified. Wisdom calls out on the streets, it loudly announces its presence. But the call is not in anger. It’s a warm invitation to anyone listening.
The call to obtain wisdom is offering a gift and the Lord desires to give His children this gift.
The Lord offers this gift first to the “simple.” The Hebrew word underlying what we read translated as “simple” means people who are naïve or easily persuaded. There are no moral overtones here. These aren’t sinful people, they simply need interaction with wisdom.
Ironically, when we are naïve, we are in a good position to gain wisdom from the Lord. Not only because we need it, but because we will absorb its teachings. We are, in a sense, extraordinarily flexible.
When we gain the Lord’s wisdom, we also “gain prudence.” Again, there is no morality associated with this word. It means we will be able to mentally perceive a situation and act with prudency and discretion.
Wise people not only can discern a situation, they also know how to behave in that moment.
The second part of this invitation to wisdom extends to those “who are foolish.” When we read the English word “fool” or “foolish” in the Bible, we are reading any one of several words that could all mean “fool” in English. Unlike the “simple” above, this word translated “foolish” does have moral overtones.
A “fool” (from the Bible’s point of view) is not just ignorant to wisdom or unable to follow instruction, the fool intentionally rebels against it. The heart of the fool is set against wisdom. This is why the Proverbs counsels the fool to set their hearts to wisdom.
There is an attitude change that must happen for the fool to receive wisdom. You can teach the fool all you want, but they will reject what you’re saying. To attempt it is throwing pearls to pigs.
So if we set our hearts actively against wisdom, the Bible calls us fools. And if that’s us, we must humble ourselves and turn our hearts to the Lord’s wisdom.
And what a gift it is to know the Lord wants to give us wisdom. He doesn’t want us walking through life bouncing from one avoidable situation after another. Nor does the Lord want us unarmed when we face situations out of our control.
Instead, He shouts His offer to find wisdom when we turn our hearts and heads to Him.
Try that starting today. Read a chapter of Proverbs every day this week. Ingest the wisdom of the Lord through these inspired words. Put them into practice. Turn your heart and head to the Lord and let’s walk in His light and life before a world in desperate need of seeing a more excellent way.
Yes, you’re going to read the same thing different ways. But it’s not mindless repetition; it’s mindful understanding that we need to hear it more than once to really learn how to do it.