Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on the Second Sunday after Trinity, 6/26/2022. The bulletin is available as a PDF: Trinity2 Bulletin
The texts for the sermon were the day’s gospel and Old Testament lessons. To read the Bible texts for the Second Sunday after Trinity, click here.
Today’s Old Testament text comes from the book of Proverbs. You might think of Proverbs as a collection of useful, practical information and morals. And there is some truth there. The Proverbs illustrate what is good, right, and salutary for mankind. For example, Proverbs 26:11, 21 proclaims
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. verse 11
As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man to kindling strife. verse 21
But there are more significant dimensions to the Proverbs than living well. They portray the faith and life of one made righteous through faith in God, Who alone gives wisdom. And they point us to who Wisdom truly is.
According to the book of Proverbs, Wisdom was present from eternity. Even from before the creation of the world and before time. And so, it is no surprise that in Proverbs 8, Wisdom is there beside God like a master workman.
This should call to mind the beginning of John’s gospel, read every Christmas Day:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. John 1:1-3
The point is clear enough. In Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). For He is, as Saint Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “The Wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24
To seek wisdom apart from Christ, then, is merely to seek vain knowledge. As I’ve said: the man of knowledge knows that a tomato is a fruit, but the man of wisdom knows not to put it in a fruit salad.
With all this in mind, consider again Proverbs 9, which is the book’s third poem about Wisdom.
In this poem, Wisdom is personified as a woman. This should be as concerning as when Jesus said that He had desired to gather Jerusalem as a mother hen gathers her baby chicks. Matthew 23:37
She prepares a house and a feast. Meat and wine served on golden plates. And she has invited everyone. That’s why the invitation comes from the highest place in town. So all can hear:
To him who lacks sense, she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” verses 4-6
If you possess knowledge but not wisdom, come eat, come drink. If you do not consider yourself to be wise in your own eyes, come eat, come drink. If you would not reject instruction and insight, but learn, then come eat, come drink.
The next verses feel like they’re for pastors, but they’re not – not exclusively, anyways. The foolish are not open to being corrected. They’ll become offended, and then they’ll become offensive. But to those whom God gives Wisdom, they will be grateful. They will hear and grow in learning, wisdom, and righteousness.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom. This fear is not exactly the kind of fear you have when a tornado comes toward you. It is more like respect, reverence, and recognition of God’s awesome power. Most of all, this fear is closely related to trust because we can only respect and revere God when we believe that He is who He says He is. That’s why this part of the poem concludes with a sort of blessing:
For by me your days will be multiplied and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it. verse 12
It’s obvious in the world, as it is obvious in Scripture, that wisdom is frequently rejected.
A child won’t listen to his parents about the importance of sincere effort and hard work, but he’ll listen to and honor the counsel of children about how to abuse his body.
Sage counsel from our elders is dismissed as the rambling of someone afflicted with dementia, rather than the blessing of wisdom passed from generation to generation.
The common sense God has given to children is perverted by the world’s managers, as the simplest of truths are twisted into representations of tyranny and oppression.
All the while, what God calls good is proclaimed to be evil and vice versa; and you, His people, are compared to dinosaurs about to go extinct.
Wisdom can be rejected, and it is rejected. And if you would heed God’s Word and God’s Wisdom, heed also His warning. The poem doesn’t end at verse 10, even if our reading did. God reminds us that Wisdom is not the only voice crying out:
The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
Calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way,
”Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
And to him who lacks sense she says,
“Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there.
That her guests are in the depths of Sheol. verses 13-18
This is a warning to the foolish, but also to those who have received Wisdom, who are going straight on their way, even straight to Wisdom’s bountiful feast. No one in Scripture, save our Lord, was wiser than Solomon. He was as brilliant a leader as you could ask for.
God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men… and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom. 1 Kings 4:29-34
In Solomon’s day Judah and Israel flourished. Gold was so plentiful that silver was considered nothing. He built the Temple. He built a kingly palace. He had charge over everything and everyone. Life in his kingdom was great.
And then it wasn’t. All of a sudden, history took a terrible turn. Solomon heard the call of Folly in the voice of wives he should not have had, from peoples God had warned him to avoid.
And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. 1 Kings 11:9-10
The Power of God and the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ, has come in the flesh for you. He has suffered the penalty of all your vanity and foolishness. He, the only true Wise Man, has died in the place of every fool, that you may have the wisdom from on high.
You have heard Wisdom call. You have been ushered into Wisdom’s feast. Which means that here at the feast is the only place for you. All your excuses are lies.
Do not go walk back into darkness and destruction. Seek to be nowhere else than where you may receive Christ. Rather, grow in wisdom. That’s a point in the Proverbs that is easily ignored.
There is more at stake than salvation. Christ died for you. You are saved. You are in. Thanks be to God.
Don’t be like the wicked and foolish. You shouldn’t be engaged in their sins, that’s obvious.
But even more than that, receive reproof and correction from God’s Word. Receive it and love the one who gives it to you. When you receive instruction and teaching, grow in wisdom and learning. Flourish and thrive!
If you do not consider yourself to be wise in your own eyes, come eat, come drink. If you would not reject instruction and insight, but learn, then come eat, come drink. If you would receive Christ, His forgiveness, His teaching, and His mercy: then come eat, come drink.