Week Twenty-Eight Reading Assignment:
Psalms 144 - Proverbs 16
"Wisdom is the biblical term of on-earth-as-in-heaven everyday living. Wisdom is the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves. It has virtually nothing to do with information as such, with knowledge as such. A college degree is not certification of wisdom -- nor is it primarily concerned with keeping us out of moral mud puddles, although it does have a profound moral effect upon us. Wisdom has to do with becoming skillful in honoring our parents and raising our children, handling our money and conducting our sexual lives, going to work and exercising leadership, using words well and treating friends kindly, eating and drinking healthily, cultivating emotions within ourselves and attitudes toward others that make for peace. Threaded through all these items is the insistence that the way we think of and respond to God is the most practical thing we do. In matters of everyday practicality, nothing, absolutely noting, takes precedence over God."
(Eugene Peterson, The Message)
(Eugene Peterson, The Message)
This Week's Teaching Video: Creator and Creation in the Psalms
Charting our Progress
Psalms to Hymns by Isaac Watts
Our final week in the Book of Psalms brings with it our final sample from the work of Issac Watts.
The Psalm itself begins as a song of praise, but it is more specifically an expression of confidence in God. The Psalmist's thesis is that the Lord is rightly the One in whom a person should trust. And he proves his thesis in two ways. First, there is the recognition that human beings are always an inadequate object of our trust. And, second, both the deeds and the nature of God make Him the sure and safe One in whom to place our trust. That, then, is the Psalmist's reason for praise.
Watts' hymn stays true to the basic flow of the original Psalm. In verse 2, he offers a poetic evaluation of man's limita-tions, while devoting the third, fourth, and fifth verses to the actions and attributes of God. Meanwhile, he echoes the fact that the Psalmist begins and ends with an expression of praise by essentially repeating verse 1 as the final verse of his hymn.
That opening and closing verse, mean-while, goes a step beyond the Psalmist, for Watts' affirms the eternal nature of our praise. The Psalmist pledges to praise God "while I live." Watts, however, looks beyond the boundaries of mortal life. Informed by the assurance of eternal life in Christ, he declares that, even after "my voice is lost in death," his praise will endure.
Good Book Review: Wisdom for Living
The love of wisdom (literally “philo-sophy” for the Greeks) has sometimes been a highly theoretical or purely aca-demic pursuit. Wisdom in the Old Testament tradition, by contrast, is relentlessly pragmatic. Far from being abstract and detached, this wisdom is meant to be practical, with day-to-day application. Indeed, if it is not applied, the writer of Proverbs might question whether it qualified as wisdom, at all.
The Book of Proverbs, along with Job, Ecclesiastes, and several Psalms, is part of the so-called “wisdom tradition” of Old Testament Israel. More than any other, though, the Book of Proverbs offers wisdom for daily living.
The writer of Proverbs (traditionally un-derstood to be Solomon, although other sources are also mentioned within the text) presents himself as a father figure offering counsel to a son. That son will prove he is wise if he heeds the words and counsel of his father.
As the book progresses, however, the exhortation is moved from the mouth of the father/author to a personification of wisdom itself. Wisdom calls out, urging all to welcome, heed, and love her. For wisdom promises health and prosperity to all who embrace her.
The person who is really at issue, how-ever, is neither some imaginary Sophia (i.e., wisdom) nor any human parent. Rather, the One who is at the heart of the matter is God. For the author insists from the very start that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).