Wisdom for the Way: Danger and Destiny

Danger and Destiny

People cherish the idea that they are able to choose from a variety of options at every crossroads in life. *I* am not only acting within the world, but upon the world. *I* love that every restaurant will alter the menu to suit my peculiarities; that there should always be a restaurant open 24/7 just in case *I* am up and out late; that *I* should be able to order American food at a Mexican restaurant—you know, for the kids... Why shouldn't *I* have all of these options so I can live life the way *I* choose. We tend to think that our decisions drive the world. Companies are on pins and needs to convince me to buy their product, because the economy revolves around how *I* spend my money.

Proverbs lays bare this conceit by depicting a world of influencing. Rather than making purely rational decisions about how we live, we are constantly being influenced one way or the other. In other words, the air around us is not empty; we are not alone; we live in a spiritual world.
Hear, my child, your father’s instruction,
    and do not reject your mother’s teaching.

Proverbs 1:9
Wisdom cries out in the street;
    in the squares she raises her voice.

At the busiest corner she cries out;
    at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

Proverbs 1:20-21
Proverbs begins by reminding us of the positive influences in our lives: Our parents and, above all, God (wisdom personified). Our parents are influencing us toward God while Wisdom "cries out in the street" and "raises her voice."

You cannot grow up without hearing your parents' voice. And when you are older, you cannot walk through the city, going about your life, without hearing her voice. You are being constantly influenced.

But Wisdom isn't the only voice heard in the streets:
Then a woman comes toward him
    decked out like a prostitute, with hidden intent.
She is loud and wayward;
    her feet do not stay at home;
now in the street, now in the squares,
    and at every corner she lies in wait.

Proverbs 7:10-12
In this metaphorical city in which we all live, there are evil influences (often personified in Proverbs as a prostitute) who are likewise found all over the city ("now in the street, now in the squares").

Proverbs doesn't see human beings a neutral moral agents who freely decide how they want to live. It depicts us as living in a city together where the voice of Wisdom and the voice of Foolishness are heard everywhere that you are and all of the time. We cannot escape their voices.

The choice that Proverbs puts to us is "Who will you listen to?"

1 Comment

Al Petty - January 27th, 2023 at 6:42am

Amen! May we listen to Jesus and His wisdom. Thank you God for our parents and for You being Wisdom Personified. Glory! Hallelujah!