Sunday, October 3, 2010

Proverbs 3 – The Tree of Life

“Happy are those who find wisdom,

and those who get understanding...

She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.”

~Proverbs 3:13, 18 (NRSV).

Many and most of us have always had that ‘What is the secret to life?’ question burning almost continually through our subconscious minds.

Following from earlier in chapter 3 of Proverbs, and verse 2 specifically, comes a description of ‘true wealth’ in verses 13-18. There is hardly a more reassuring message in the rest of the Bible so far as our whole lives are concerned and it is personified Woman Wisdom who carries the refrain for our acquisition and possession; to “lay hold of her”.

Woman Wisdom – Giver of the True Wealth for Life

“Happy” in this version above means “blessed”. Blessed are they—with true wealth for life, which is spiritual—who go to and with Wisdom, the personified woman.

Perhaps we can see here that “life,” so far as the Old Testament Scripture is concerned, is more about the quality or fullness of life from the spiritual standpoint than the actuality of physical life and death.

Woman Wisdom

Which of us has perhaps not known the purest of girls, full in the esteem of moral virtue and basically beyond temptation, or a mature married woman fit completely for the tasks of life?

Suddenly an image of a face or two springs to light in our minds.

Woman Wisdom is not hard to picture, then, as the personification of perhaps the most intrinsic aspect of God. Why wisdom is personified we do not know, but it is clear that of either gender to select, femininity is possibly most naturally like God by nature. For instance, females are less inherently competitively driven, ambitious and covetous than men are—as a sweeping generalisation (which I’m usually loath to make).

Not unlike Proverbs 3:1-12, this section also beckons upon meditation. As we ruminate upon the words, our souls are seasoned in and through the grace and peace of God, and this infiltrates the very sinews of our spiritual core—to the function of our ongoing spiritual and life focus.

Blessing in Both Hands

“Long life is in her right hand;

In her left hand are riches and honor.”

~Proverbs 3:16 (NRSV).

This is succulently alluring language. Who seeing truthfully could not be convinced as to the ways and benefits of Wisdom?

The Message has part B of this verse as “recognition,” and we all pine for recognition. What better than God’s recognition firstly, and then that of humanity’s?

“Long life,” again, is possibly more the aspect of a beautiful spiritual life than the actuality of a long physical life, though both are probably in sight.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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