Hello all! It’s been a bit since out last entry here, so let’s dive right in!
Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Wisdom’s call was previously noted as bold and public, but we see a shift in this week’s passage with regard to those to whom Wisdom has called but have rejected her invitation. In 1:23, we learn the benefits promised to those who heed Wisdom’s call (“I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you”). As the passage continues, however, we find a rather extended treatment of what happens to those who reject Wisdom. Verse 24 demonstrates the blatant disregard for Wisdom’s call exemplified by those who love folly; it is not merely an oversight, but they “refused to listen.” Consider also the disregard represented by choosing not to heed an outstretched hand; in this case, the one calling out is near enough to extend an actual, physical offer of help and hope in the midst of another’s difficulty, and yet the other party still chooses to reject their kindness. It comes as little wonder, therefore, that Wisdom is far from favorably disposed toward these offenders.
Verses 24 and 25 are both “because” statements, demonstrating to the reader that the curses brought upon those who reject Wisdom are a direct consequence of their own actions. In the former verse, the rejection is of Wisdom’s invitation. In the latter case, however, it is a rejection of Wisdom’s express counsel – which is in essence a rejection of Wisdom herself, as what is Wisdom if not counsel and reproof? Thus we find Wisdom gives the response of the verses to come, which not only turns the rejection back on the fool, but also acknowledges the absurdity of their initial rejection.
1:26 begins the pronunciation of Wisdom’s condemnation of those who reject her. Consider one of the few moments in Scripture in which the laughter of God is recorded, Psalm 2:4 – after the kings of the earth “take counsel together against the Lord and against the Anointed” (2:3), the text tells us, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” In other words, the kings of the earth assemble under the absurd assumption that their own wisdom (their “counsel together”) could possibly outmatch the wisdom of God Himself. No surprise that God responds with laughter! In the same way, Wisdom seems to reflect this rejection of the folly of humanity and openly laughs at those who have the audacity to reject her. Beyond the laughter here is additional trouble faced by those who oppose Wisdom, namely the outright mockery which Wisdom pours out on those who reject her. Wisdom essentially adds insult to injury here, and for good reason – who would be considered undeserving of mockery when they deliberately chose foolishness and ignorance over Wisdom? One of the classic tropes of humor is that of the fool – Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, and many other figures are built on the idea that foolishness and ignorance are laughable. Wisdom shares in laughing at the fool, but not simply one who cannot understand or who lacks the capacity for reason; rather, Wisdom mocks the one who is intentional in their rejection of her.
Not long ago, a humorous quote came across my path which I’ve enjoyed sharing quite a few times since then: “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions.” The fool finds themselves rushing into sin and folly without hesitation, and yet when they begin to see where their path has led, they (rightly) find themselves in terror, distress, and anguish. Thus we find Wisdom’s answer in 1:28 – although the fool cries out and seeks Wisdom now, they will soon realize Wisdom can no longer be found. At a time where Wisdom could have made all the difference, now she will reject them as they once rejected her.
How often it seems people simply do not wish to listen to wisdom! In my teenage years, I recall the frequent rolling of eyes as I heard my parents’ counsel. Most of us go through a similar phase at this point in our lives – we know all there is to know, and our parents are the poor, delusional fools whose time has long passed. It’s only after the years have gone on and we too have experience in adulthood that we’re able to look back and marvel at how right they truly were all along.
For some, however, this day of realization never comes – and, far more problematically, the wisdom they ignored was not just that of their parents, but essentially all that God provided them for guidance along the way. In order to excel, we must not merely “follow our hearts,” but must listen to the specifics of the wisdom of God, which will lead us in the paths of righteousness where our hearts may deceive us.
Not long ago, I found myself attempting to pass along guidance and instruction which was well within my field of study to a group of people who simply refused to listen. No matter how many times I tried to offer help, I was met with resistance and outright disdain. Despite numerous attempts, the counsel and reproof I offered was rejected. At what point do we simply walk away and allow those determined to engage in folly do what they please?
This passage’s reminder to us is twofold, in my estimation: first, it serves to show us that we must surrender ourselves to wisdom. Wisdom without our humility will never be fully effective, as evidenced by Solomon himself. But second, our own offered wisdom can only be given to a degree; at some time, we must shake the dust from our feet and give the arrogant over to their fates.
Let’s spend some time in self-examination. What is God leading us to do in response? Have we been arrogant and need to surrender ourselves to the wisdom of God? Have we been throwing our pearls before swine and need instead to move on to those who will appreciate the wisdom we offer? What next steps might Wisdom be bringing us to?