Laurence Hull Stookey is the retired Professor of Preaching and Worship at Wesley Theological Seminary and the Pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Allen, Maryland.
Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions is a longstanding—and beloved—resource published by Upper Room Books every year. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages in the lectionary for that period.
In 2013 you can not only read these daily devotions but also comment on them, ask the writer a question, and respond to others who are reading the same material each day. We are looking forward to building a community of Disciplines readers! Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following the Monday blog post.
Each Monday an introduction and the initial reading for the week will be posted. Come back to this Monday post throughout the week to continue the conversation about the week’s readings and prayers.
Read Proverbs 8:1-4
A casual reading of the opening lines of Proverbs 8 can seem to imply that what is known as “The Poem to Lady Wisdom” suggests the honoring of two deities: God the Lord and a female consort. But before jumping to that conclusion, ponder the fact that the Hebrew language has no neuter. Every noun must be designated as either “he” or “she”; there is no “it” available.
Further, poetic texts are not intended to be the basis of literalistic rationalism. Instead they are meant to stretch our imagination and send us off prepared for new insights, for deeper understanding. Wisdom is indeed a crucial attribute of the one God. But Lady Wisdom is neither a goddess nor a consort; let alone is she a temptress. But she graciously offers her priceless gifts to all who will listen in the public square, at the crossroads, at the gates and entrance portals of the town.
Who among us does not need and seek a greater depth of knowledge in order that we may more fully serve God? Perhaps we despair at achieving this. Despair may be justified if we try to manufacture wisdom ourselves. Today’s reading reveals that what we seek has been characteristic of God since before creation and is available to us because it is in accord with the interior desire of the One whom we serve.
In the history of Christian thought and piety, divine wisdom as found in the book of Proverbs becomes the foundation upon which have been built our understanding of the Word of God (logos) and indeed of the Trinity itself. This we shall explore more fully as we pray our way through the week ahead.
Gracious God, to all who truly seek you, grant the holy wisdom that has forever been at the center of your redemptive love for your world. Amen.