Wisdom cries aloud in the street, but are we listening?

Proverbs 1:20-22 “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?”

When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you listen to?  There are obviously lots of choices.  One of the things that characterizes our age is noise.  Everywhere we turn there is the media vying for our attention. It may be the media professionals calling for our attention over the television or radio, or it may be social media with voices and messages coming at us from every direction from our “friends.”  As we drive down the road there are billboards plastered with images and words to catch our eye.  We are urged to buy this or that product or visit this or that place, for if we do, we’re told that our lives will be better for it. It’s a promise! 

But amidst all this noise the verse above speaks to us about where we might find true wisdom.  It tells us of that which is definitely good for us and that “cries aloud in the street” to us day after day.  In other words, there is wisdom to be had, if we would have it, but wisdom acknowledges that its message is one that faces much competition as we move through our daily lives. 

When the Bible speaks of wisdom in the way it does, it is nothing more than using an anthropomorphism.  The Proverbs speak to us about wisdom as if it is a person with a voice, a voice that cries aloud to us.  And the fact is, wisdom is a person, for God alone is wisdom.  He’s its ultimate source. Any wisdom that exists comes ultimately and only from Him.  And the fact is, this God of wisdom speaks. 

In Psalm 50:1-3 we are told “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.  Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes; he does not keep silence.”  In similar words from Psalm 19:1-4 we are told “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”  In other words, God speaks to every person on the face of the earth, no matter what language they speak, with the glory of His creation. By it He proclaims loudly His existence to us, and He demonstrates His profound wisdom through what He has made.

But more than that, God has spoken to us in black and white on the pages of the Scriptures.  We are told that “long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).  And this Son through whom God has spoken to us has a name that points directly to that message: “The Word of God” (John 1:1). 

As Jesus walked the earth, one that, like ours today, was characterized by the noise of so many voices, time after time He began His teaching with the word “Listen!” or the phrase “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”  Here was wisdom incarnate literally crying aloud in the streets that people would listen, but sadly, many closed their ears and walked away.  Near the end of His earthly life, as Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem where He had so often preached, He lamented over the people’s failure to hear with these words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37)!  What a tragedy this was. God had sent His prophets and rather than listen to them, the Jews killed them, and then when He did the ultimate and came to them Himself in the flesh, they did the same! 

But isn’t that the way it is today? Although God’s Word continues to be available to us in so many ways, including through the electronic media which most of us have at our fingertips, although we have every conceivable translation of the Bible available to us and hundreds of Bible commentaries and other Bible study helps available to us at the click of our finger, how often do we really listen?  As I heard one pastor ask a church some years ago in a sermon on this topic “How many of you spend an hour or more per day watching television (or surfing the internet)?” Then he asked another question: “How many of you spend an hour or more each day in God’s Word?” 

Our answer to those questions will say a lot to us about whether we are heeding Wisdom’s call – or not.  So, if we lack wisdom, who’s to blame? Surely, it’s not the One Who is crying aloud to us day and night.  The question is, do we have the ears to hear?

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