Perilous Times Primer #14

Who is That Woman, and Why is She Screaming?

“Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors.” Pro 8:1–3
Wisdom is a woman. She stands in prominent places, and cries out to men in need of deliverance from impending disaster. So says Scripture. The current national and world situation confirms this, though few seem to notice. Just why wisdom is portrayed in this way is not immediately clear. In fact, I have pondered this picture for decades. Something in the air at the present time compels me to attempt some explanation, as far as I am enabled to do so.
The first explanation seems to be in the definition of wisdom. It is more than just the truth of the Word of God. Rather, it is God’s Word rightly understood and applied to life. Since the understanding and application of God’s Word is the province of the Holy Spirit, it makes sense to use the feminine gender. The Holy Spirit often is illustrated as “brooding” like a “hen” (Gen 1:2; Mat 23:37). In the family of the Trinity, the Spirit is the “Helper” (Joh 14:16) in the same quiet, behind-the-scenes way of a wife to her husband. Clearly, these are only literary figures, but still significant.
Another reason, building on the first, is that the divine “Helper” often works through the wife-“helper” (Gen 2:18, 20), as a “still small voice” (1Ki 19:12) to aid the man. Do we need much proof that her voice is often ignored (as is the voice of the Spirit)? While it is true that one of Abraham’s biggest mistakes was listening to his wife when her counsel was wrong (Gen 16:1–2), it is equally true that he almost made a bigger blunder by not heeding her wise counsel later (Gen 21:8–12; Gal 4:30). Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that Abraham had his own motives for listening in the first place, and resisting in the second! A man who has a wise wife is a blessed man, but how much more blessed is he if he will listen when she “calls out at the gates.”
To further strengthen the picture of wisdom as a woman, we have several examples of wise women in the Bible. They often far excelled their male counterparts in the spiritual skill of wisdom.
One who stands out is Abigail, who gave counsel to David at a crucial point in his sojourning (1Sa 25:23–35). David is about to take vengeance on the fool Nabal when Abigail meets him in the field. She brings the much-needed provisions for his men, but more importantly, she brings wisdom. She is “crying out … where the paths meet,” in order to deliver David from taking actions that will haunt him in the future. She humbly takes the responsibility on herself for Nabal’s folly, then reminds David, “my lord fights the battles of the LORD” (1Sa 25:28). There is more at stake here than David’s offended vanity. Just as He did with Goliath, the LORD would fight the battles of David, so he would not later be grieved by shedding blood needlessly. Interestingly, she ends with the words, “But when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant” (1Sa 25:31). These are very similar to the words of the thief on the cross to the Lord, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom” (Luk 23:42).
David heeds her wise counsel, praising God for giving her wisdom, and her for her wise intervention. He had the humility to hear the voice of wisdom from Abigail, breaking the mold of those who, too often, are deaf to wise counsel. In the end, God intervenes—Nabal dies of a “stroke” (1Sa 25:36–38), and Abigail becomes the humble wife of David (1Sa 25:39–44). I often wonder how much David gave heed to her wisdom in days ahead.
Furthermore, the Lord Jesus speaks of believers as children of the woman wisdom. He says in Mat 11:19, “but wisdom is justified by her children.” This is in the context of the rejection of the religious leaders, who called Him a glutton and drunkard. They were rejecting the “still small voice” of the Spirit’s conviction in their own souls. But for the outcasts, rejects, and sinners who trusted in Him, the working of God’s Spirit—that is to say “wisdom”—was justified, or declared righteous. Thus, the believer has heard the voice of wisdom loud and clear, warning of eternal condemnation while the world goes its way, asking, “Who is that woman? And what is she screaming about?”
Perhaps another reason for wisdom to be identified in the feminine gender is that throughout history—in times of chaos and calamity—it is the women and children who suffer most. There is a wisdom that comes from sorrow, from vulnerability, and from broken-heartedness. Often, as in the case of Abigail, the wisdom may be hard-won from the sufferings of her husband’s follies. Nabal was a fool, and everyone knew it. Abigail was wise, but probably few recognized it. It is often the failure of men to be men that gives rise to wisdom in women.
Take the case of Deborah. As I read her story in Jdg 4:1–5:31, it appears that her chief role as a judge was that of giving wise counsel (Jdg 4:4–5). When the Lord led her to call Barak to battle, he waffled, consenting to go only if she went with him. Here was apparently the best man God could find to lead the army of Israel, and he hides behind the skirts of Deborah! While much is made in certain circles about God choosing a female judge, my contention is that there were no men, willing to play the man, to be found. Because of Barak’s cowardice, Deborah informs him that the victory will go to another woman, Jael (Jdg 4:9, Jdg 4:17–22). She was a wise woman in her own right.
Since we live in a time of historical upheaval, and the need for wisdom has never been greater, we would do well to pay heed to the woman who is “calling out at the gates!” I believe, as a nation, we are in imminent peril of self-destruction. While much hangs on the present election, at best, all we can do is buy time and delay the inevitable. And this is precisely why the figure in Proverbs is so crucial to understand. The woman is standing in prominent places, and is calling out while the masses (and far too many believers) are passing by—deaf to her cries—unheeding and unwittingly moving to their doom!
Let me see if some principles of application can help, for those of you who may yet be asking, “What is this post all about?”
1. Without the wisdom of God you are doomed. You may be a child of God by faith in Christ—well and good. Eternity is sure for you, but the days ahead will not be pleasant.
2. God’s wisdom is out there, every day, calling out to any who will hear. “Let him who has ears, hear!” (Mat 11:15, 13:43, Mar 4:9; Luk 8:8; Rev 2:7, etc.). Every day, you live in a laboratory called life. Every person experiments in various ways, but the results always prove that what God has said in His Word is true. To get truth off the page and into life—that is wisdom!
3. The wisdom of God will come to you from unlikely sources. Who would think that Abraham, after trusting God for so long, would need to pay heed to Sarah, who had not? God uses weak vessels to bring His choice treasures to men. It is often the treasure buried in the field rather than the pearl we have been seeking, that brings forth wisdom (Mat 13:46).
4. Wisdom is a “woman” with whom you are to develop a deep love relationship. Don’t take my word for it.
“Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you … exalt her, and she will promote you. She will bring you honor, when you embrace her … keep her, for she is your life …” Pro 4:6, Pro 4:8, Pro 4:13
Read all of Proverbs 4 and 8. Consider carefully what they say.
5. These perilous times will call on each of us to make crucial decisions that will affect the lives of many. We may need to make rapid choices, under great pressure. It may be that the right path is the very one we tremble to take. We will need a clear head in the very midst of the “fog of war.” If we are to be guided by wisdom, we would do well to embrace her early. For there is one thing of which we can be sure, the woman called wisdom has no time for fools!
It is my prayer that each of us will develop the spiritual sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit, so we can finish strong, and “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1).
The time is short!
By grace alone,

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