Our Friends and Our Future

Proverbs 13:20:

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 27:17:

Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.

Daniel J. Estes, Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms (Baker Academic, 2005), page 239:

Proverbs makes it clear that friendship has a great potential for good or for bad. In essence, we choose our friends, and our friends change us. … The influence of a wise friend can sharpen one’s discernment, perspective, and insight in many ways that one could not achieve by individual efforts. Because of the significant effects that friends produce in those who are close to them, to a large degree the friends we choose determine what kind of people we become. Consequently, we must choose our friends wisely, for in choosing them we are likely choosing our own future.

On Decision Making

“Proverbs, and the wisdom literature in general, counter the idea that being spiritual means handing all decisions over to the leading of the Lord. The opposite is true. Proverbs reveals that God does not make all people’s decisions for them, but rather expects them to use his gift of reason to interpret the circumstances and events of life within the framework of revelation that he has given. Yet when they have exercised their responsibility in decision-making, they can look back and see that the sovereign God has guided.”

Graeme Goldsworthy, in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (IVP 2000), p. 210. See also Gospel and Wisdom in the Goldsworthy Trilogy.

Lady Wisdom

The dusty Palestinian city was abuzz, despite the blazing morning sun. The city streets were lined with leaders, buyers, sellers, and laborers. Another workday was in full swing as men gathered at the gate to discuss matters of trade and government.

Robed women walked through the dry and dusty streets, scrutinizing lines of chickens and vegetables for the meals of the day. Unsteady wooden carts clicked along the rough streets to bring fresh produce from nearby villages. The city was fully awake with the chorus of conversation and commerce.

With the amount of people lining the streets, it was difficult to see and hear the woman standing where the city gate connected to main street. But she was better dressed than anyone, more sharply fitted than those out for another day of trading and business. In contrast to the men and women walking the streets with their heads bowed down to the street-level bustle, her eyes were raised upward to the burning desert sky.

This woman stood in the middle of the street, visibly removed from the produce, clothing, and other wares. She stood alone in the city square when she started to speak.

Her voice rose in intensity, and at times she would break into a yell–yet her voice barely broke through the accumulated commotion of the market. Turning to the left and to the right, she raised her voice to the people, now buried in their daily routines, who passed around her on all sides.

But apart from the sneering glances, the men, women, and children walked along uninterrupted. The woman now raised her arms, cupped her mouth with her hands, and yelled louder to the disinterested crowd. Many of the people, intently focused on the day, continued with little interest in the pleading woman. Yet it was those ignoring her—even those opposing her—to whom she showed deep concern.

Facing the growing resistance of the crowd, her heart filled with compassion and her voice grew even more strained. She approached two men standing in conversation and cried out, “Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right.” The men, annoyed at the interruption, walked away. She continued walking along the streets for one soul to listen and heed—just one! Yet those gathered as spectators of this now ardent woman began to ridicule and mock her as the town crazy. Still others walked on, avoiding eye contact. Others grew angry and lobbed derogatory responses as they passed, telling the woman to shut up. Yet the woman continued, her voice now pleading ever more urgent, with tears filling her eyes. She walked up to groups and spoke with specificity. “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?”

In the bustle of our day, God in his compassion and mercy is walking among us, offering the same sweet fruit of wisdom [Prov. 1].