WHO IS THE WOMAN IN MICHELANGELO’S PORTRAIT
WHOM GOD HAS ENCIRCLED WITH HIS FREE ARM?
Dr. Ellen Davis, in her Westminister Commentary, believes it is “the woman wisdom who was at his side in creation.”
We are coming to the close of the first part of Proverbs,
the introduction that keeps contrasting
the call of the woman folly with the call of the woman wisdom.
Many believe that it is Jesus who is described in Proverbs 8.
Others believe it is the wisdom of the Lord personified.
Either way, it is the voice of the Lord.
But how do we hear His voice?
How do we discern if He is really speaking to us
or if we are imagining it? I see two very important principles.
1. It must agree with God’s Word. (And we must know how to interpret Scripture — in this latest debate on gay marriage, we see so much twisting or genuine misunderstanding of how to interpret Scripture, such as looking at the polygamy in the Old Testament and seeing that as an endorsement from God on “rainbow” marriages.)
2. Those who fear Him and are intimate with Him, are more likely to discern His voice in areas where Scripture is silent. (Such as, “Do I marry this man?” “Do I take this job?” “Where should I give the money with which God has entrusted me?”)
Last month my dear friend Linda Strom was with me,
and she always inspires me.
She often hears His voice in a way that consternates others. She is intimate with Him, she knows His Word, keeps it in context, and begins with it instead of her own opinion. She also hears His still small voice in areas where Scripture is silent, but where decisions must be made.
She runs the helm of Discipleship Unlimited in a way that would make most businessmen crazy. If the funds are not there, yet she has heard from God to begin another faith dorm, or to bless the women in some way, she asks the board to step out in faith. She’s confident, because she has heard His voice, that He will also supply their need.
And for decades, He has done exactly that.
What is her secret?
I think it is this:
We know, and keep saying, that proverbs are general principles and not promises. So there are times when You seek Him diligently and cannot find Him, cannot discern His voice. But generally speaking, the ones who are most likely to hear Him, are those who are intimate with Him, those who love Him. The psalmist puts it like this, and this is a promise, though it will be on His timetable!
He confides in those who fear him…
Many of you are still reeling from the Supreme Court decision. I don’t think it is wise to initiate the discussion with unbelievers, for it is a side issue and Satan loves to distract from the gospel. But they may initiate it, or believers who are now embracing this may want to talk about it. I do think we have a responsibility to be prepared to listen and to speak the truth in love. (We also must not assume that everyone who speaks against the Supreme Court decision is wise, or that there is no wisdom in those who speak for it.) So this week there is an optional activity to read an article from The Gospel Coalition that has gone viral and is getting both kind and unkind rebuttals. You will read both the article, then the rebuttal, and then write a paragraph with your own view, expressed in love, that might help you when discussing this with those you love.
Also, you’ll have a chance to hear from Wesley Hill, an Anglican brother who tells how he heard from God about his own same sex attraction. I hope you’ll listen, not only because I think Dr. Hill is a helpful voice in these times, but because he is a model of how to hear from God and how to speak the truth in love.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
Read Proverbs 8:11 and then prepare your heart for study with this.
There is None Like You
2. Read Proverbs 8:1-9 and find the repeated quality of wisdom.
E. F. Davis writes: “The connection between wisdom and wealth is occasional, what is invariable is the link between wisdom and righteousness (20). In other words, wisdom is not a commodity or a technique that can be manipulated toward whatever end we choose, it has an essential connection with goodness.
Sara Groves might put it like this: it always “Adds to the Beauty” Prepare your heart with this:
3. What is one way James 3:17 helps us to identify the Wisdom that is from above? How might you apply this?
4. Read Proverbs 8:10-21 and share anything that quickens you and why.
5. According to Proverbs 8:22-31, what part did wisdom play in creation?
6. How is Proverbs 9:1-6 similar to the parable we studied last week of the call to the wedding banquet?
7. How does a wise man and a scoffer respond to rebuke? (9:7-9) How do you respond to rebuke?
8. How is the voice of folly different from the voice of wisdom? (Proverbs 9:13-18) What does heeding her voice lead to?
In this latest debate on same-sex marriage, the voice of folly is crying out. The other day one of the new Christians in our church brought me a folder of articles he had collected on this. He is trying to discern the truth, and admits it is challenging for a new Christian. I want you to read first an article he had from The Gospel Coalition. Then I want you to read one of the many rebuttals. I’ve chosen one of the kinder ones for I think she has some legitimate points but also some points that are based on a misunderstanding of Scripture.
9. Read this article from The Gospel Coalition and share your thoughts. These questions are addressed to those who proclaim faith yet agree with the Supreme Court Decision. Be discerning — which questions are particularly good and which might you skip and why? Our own Lizzy helped me to see this article is not constructive, but seems like “gotcha!” Not the way of wisdom James describes: peaceable, gentle. But I’m showing it to you and the response to help you formulate a response that is in line with the wisdom James describes. I think Keller’s response does — but you see what you think. We’re looking for discernment, love, and truth! If you want to skip the “rainbow articles,” do. Lizzy found one I will also post that has discernment, love and truth. I know some of you are weary with all of this, and I understand, yet I feel compelled, for I believe God’s heart is broken over the brokenness of our world and the way His children are failing to respond to their broken brothers and sisters with wisdom.
10. There are some terrible rebuttals — caustic and so obviously filled with a foolish distorting of Scripture, but instead I want to present one of the better rebuttals and ask you to find some of her legitimate points (for this will prepare you to hear what they are hearing — the lack of love) but also her misunderstanding or neglect of Scripture. Tim Keller suggests listening to the other side very carefully, and then articulating their argument so they know they have been heard. So read, summarize, and only then de-construct her argument.
Article Lizzy found — I thought, perhaps instead of preparing questions we should be preparing to answer questions from our broken-hearted friends who struggle with SSA.
Also, Tim Keller’s brief response to this issue provides a model. Watch this and comment:
11. Write a paragraph about what you believe, and why, with empathy and love.
Message: Wesley Hill
12. Share your thoughts and comments. How did Wesley Hill go about hearing from God?
13. What is your take-a-way and why?