The Call of Wisdom

This post is adapted from a sermon I preached from Proverbs 1:20-33. If you’re interested in hearing more, feel free to follow my sermon podcast on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, PocketCasts, RadioRepublic, or other podcast apps.

Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,[a]
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
32 For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”


Notice with me in our text, first the call of God’s wisdom. Verse 20 tells us that wisdom cries aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the markets, and she speaks out at the entrance to the city gates, which were the center of commerce and thus the center of town life. Wisdom is not hidden in the halls of academia; it’s not only for the trained and educated elite. Wisdom is not only for the powerful in the governor’s mansion, or on capitol hill or in the white house. Wisdom is not only for the socialites in Hollywood or the movers and the shakers on Wall street.

Wisdom calls to all. She calls to the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the powerful and the weak, to the young and the old, to the influential and to the seemingly insignificant. Wisdom beckons to each of us.

God’s wisdom is plainly revealed to every single person. Chapter 1 paragraph 1 of the Second London Baptist Confession of faith speaks of both the light of nature in man and the works of creation both manifest the wisdom of God. The light of nature is the natural ability that God gives to every person to reason and perceive God’s order in the world. When we look at God’s creation, when we see the intricate detail, when we see the complex systems all working together in harmony, when we see immune systems, and the water cycle, and weather patterns, and astronomical phenomena, all working in relative harmony to allow for life on this planet, then we ought to recognize the wisdom of a divine creator speaking to us.

God’s wisdom is not hidden, but his divine prudence is holding this entire universe together. He doesn’t hide it, but has painted the entire comos with it for all to see. She is vocal, calling in the noisy streets for those that would care to listen.

But notice the content of her call. Look in verse 22: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?” The simple ones, or the naïve ones, still have at this point a chance to listen. She is still speaking to them. She’s still offering to them the counsel needed for them to become wise. She’s pleading with them, “How long will you remain simple?” When will you open your eyes? When will you see the goodness of what I’m offering to you? When will you see the fruit of your ways? When will you grow up and love knowledge, rather than hate it? When will you stop playing the part of the fool?

Such is God’s wisdom. It is plainly out there for each of us to see and grasp. But we so often fail to heed God’s wisdom. We know that it is wrong for us to grumble and complain, but we so often find ourselves with a critical spirit. We know that we should be spending time in God’s word and prayer, but we choose to fritter away our time in meaningless pursuits. We know we should be diligent in our studies or in our given responsibilities, but we like to play the part of the lazy sluggard and just want to roll over in bed for a few more minutes. We hear the call of lady wisdom, but we refuse to listen, we continue in the path of foolishness, and we despise knowledge and instruction.

But lady wisdom doesn’t just leave us in without hope. Look at verse 23 and see wisdom’s promise: “23 If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you”. Wisdom says “If you turn at my reproof”, and that word turn is the Hebrew word for repentance. “If you will turn from the path of foolishness, if you will turn away from your critical spirit, if you will turn away from your comfort and indulgence and turn toward self-control and discipline,” then you will have blessings.

Wisdom offers to pour out her spirit to the simple one, and offers to make her words known to him. The simple one will not have the spirit of wisdom as long as he chooses to remain in his simplicity, and the scoffer will continue to be without wisdom’s words as long as he remains in his scoffing. We must choose to put off the sins of the flesh, if we are to hear the words of wisdom. We must give up our foolish patterns if we want to grow in Christ-like wisdom. And Why must we give up this foolishness?

Because, as we see in verse 24, because of the judgement of wisdom. Wisdom has called out publicly in the streets. She has invited any and all to come to her. She has offered to pour out her very own spirit. And part of her call includes a warning of judgement for those that will not listen and turn. She says in verse 24:

24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.

Because they refused to listen, Wisdom will laugh at the fool in their calamity. Wisdom calls, and yet is ignored. Psalm 119:91 tells us that all creatures are servants of the Lord, but only humans, the only part of God’s creation made in his image, that dare to resist the yoke of the Lord. Wisdom’s hand has been extended, and yet it is spurned. Wisdom’s counsel has been offered, but the fool only ignores.

Therefore, Wisdom will laugh. There will be an end to Wisdom’s call. There is a time limit on prudence’s offer. God will not be mocked forever. And when calamity comes, wisdom will stand, mocking the poor fools that chose to remain in their folly. Wisdom will delight in sovereign justice.

But not only will wisdom laugh, but see how she will ignore the fool in his terror. Look at verse 28, which is perhaps the most terrifying verse of this chapter:

28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.


The fool would not listen to wisdom’s cries, so wisdom will not listen to the cries of the fool. God was ignored by the sinner, so the sinner will be ignored by God when the calamity strikes. When God is most sought, he will be never-found, because when he offered himself, he was rejected.

Brothers and sisters, we must heed the calls of wisdom and listen to the offer from the Lord, for those calls will not last forever. Hear the words of Isaiah 55: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

If you have thus far ignored the call of God, ignored his wisdom, ignored the offer of free grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ, then hear these words of warning as addressed to you. There will be a day when God and his wisdom will no longer be found, and that day is sooner than any of us think. Only a fool would wait until old age to heed the call of wisdom because none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Turn today, hear and heed the call today, don’t wait another minute, because the day will come when it is too late to respond to God’s call. Further, the bible says that our lives are but a vapor, a mist, and it may be this very night that we are called to give account before the God of all the universe. Are you prepared for that? Are you ready to stand before Christ the judge and explain why you rejected his offer of salvation?

Do not delay, for today is the day of salvation. Hear the voice of wisdom crying out in the streets, and do not delay. Take the first step down the path of righteousness and wisdom, which begins with looking to Jesus as our source of forgiveness and strength. He will receive you, he will guide you, he will restore you. But his offer, like lady wisdom’s, will expire, so do not delay.

For as our text continues, we see that the fool that continues in his folly will get exactly what he deserved: Keep reading with me at verse 29:

29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, 30 would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, 31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.

The fool in his calamity is merely reaping what he had sown. He is eating the fruit of the seeds that he had planted. He planted seeds of unrighteousness, and is eating the fruit of death. He wanted his path of folly, so he’s getting his fill of the results of that path of sin. The fool often feels the sting of bad consequences for his actions in this life, but he will certainly taste of the eternal consequences in the next.

This section of warnings from lady wisdom concludes with a summary statement in verse 32:

32 For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;

Notice how the fools have nobody to blame but themselves. They are receiving the wages that they had earned for their evil work. They may try to blame God, or blame their parents, or blame their circumstances, but fools will have no one but themselves to blame for their misery.

Notice also how it says the complacency of fools shall destroy them. They don’t feel the immediate sting from their sin, so they think that they’ve gotten away with it, and that emboldens them. They continue to accelerate down the path of sin with a false sense of safety.

But wisdom is warning us otherwise. The more secure fools feel in their folly, the more assured is their punishment. The more certain they are in their rejection of God, the more definite shall be their destruction. One commentator says that “the prosperity of fools shall help to destroy them by puffing them up with pride, gluing their hearts to this world, furnishing them with fuel for their lusts, and hardening their hearts in their evil ways.”[1] Their false sense of security will lull them asleep and they will further drift down the path of destruction.

But, in contrast to the certain helplessness of fools, wisdom assures us of the security that comes with heeding her call. Look at verse 33:

33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

Here we see another sweet promise for those that would heed the wisdom of God. The fool thinks he is secure, but he will be helpless when calamity comes. Those that listen to the call of wisdom, will dwell in security. They will be safe. They will not be moved when the flood waters of trials begin to rise. They’re like the man that builds his house on the rock, and is able to weather the storm.

But notice that he will not only be secure, he will be at ease. A wise person will not only survive, but he’ll survive with confidence. A person that has built their life on the wisdom of God will have the confidence to face the storms of life, and to be at ease. He’ll know his outcome is secure, and his destination is sure. He’ll be without dread of disaster, lady wisdom says.

Rather than being overcome with fear, dread, and anguish like the fool during his calamity, the wise person can have peace, can have confidence, and can be at ease, because he knows that his fate is in the hand of a sovereign God, that his salvation is secure because of the work of Jesus Christ, and he knows that judgement will come upon the wicked.

God promises again and again in the bible to bring security to those that would come to him, to those that would heed his wisdom. But too often we fail to heed his wisdom like we should. We find ourselves like the fool, stiffening our necks, bowing up against reproof. We don’t like for our sin to be pointed out, we don’t like to be shown how foolish we are. We’re arrogant in our sin, blind in our outlook, and deceived by a false sense of security. We think our own strength is enough; we don’t need help from anyone else, not even God. We’re like Adam and Eve; even though they were promised life on God’s terms, they wanted life on their own terms.

We know the bible says that sin deserves death, yet we sin anyway. We know that a harsh word stirs up wrath, and yet we fire off in our anger anyway. We know that the fear of the Lord prolongs life, but we choose to be crippled by fear of man instead. We know that the lips of the adulterous woman lead to the grave, and yet we play with lustful intentions over and over again. We know that laziness will bring poverty, but we fritter away our time with useless endeavors. Again and again we know what lady wisdom says to us, we know the path to security, but we choose instead to plug our fingers into our ears and play the part of the fool.

And the whole time we think that God doesn’t see. We think that we can hide our little pet sins, we think that we’re strong enough to control the desires, that it won’t go too far, that we can stop whenever we want. In short, we’re deceived by the lie of Satan that says, “God didn’t really say that you’d die.” That sin doesn’t really lead to death. You can have THAT sin and it will be OK. You can disregard lady wisdom in THAT little area and still have her security.

Our text speaks to each of us to open our eyes and see the sure and certain coming calamity for all that ignore Wisdom’s call. God will judge our foolishness. God will execute his justice. God’s wisdom will bring distress and anguish upon all those that ignore his counsel and would have none of his reproof.

But if you keep reading in your bible, you’ll see that the story does not end. We see another Son that arrives on the scene. A son that heeds the call of lady Wisdom, a son that fully embraces the wisdom of God, indeed, a son that is the very embodiment of the wisdom of God. This son is just like lady wisdom. He cried out in the streets, he proclaimed good news in the marketplaces and highways. He didn’t come to preach in palaces or capitals; he came to ordinary fools like me and you. He came to preach to the sick, the weak, the insignificant, the hungry, and the poor.

And, just like lady wisdom who promised to pour out her spirit to all those that would turn to her, God has promised to pour out his spirit of wisdom into the hearts of all of his people. In Ezekiel 36 God promises to his people, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put MY spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

God’s very own spirit will be given to his people, and it is because his own spirit of wisdom indwells the hearts of his people, that they will begin to be wise. “I will cause you to walk in my statutes,” he says, and “I will cause you to be careful to obey my rules.” God’s wisdom moves in our hearts first, then we begin to move with the very wisdom of God.

But even more than that, Jesus promises in John chapter 7 that we’ll become overflowing with the spirit. John 7: 37-39 says, “Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as[f] the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” When we come to Christ, we receive rivers of living water, that is, an overabundance of the presence of the spirit of God, the very spirit of wisdom, his holy spirit, who guides us in wisdom.

In Christ, we not only have forgiveness for past foolishness, we have the very spirit of God to guide us into the paths of wisdom. But we have even more than that. Just like lady wisdom promised security for all who turned to her, Jesus Christ also provides to his people security and ease that no calamity, no trial, no storm can finally remove.

Christ is the faithful son that has earned eternal life for his people, and because of his obedience to the law of God, he has earned not merely a chance for his people to be saved, but he has actually earned their salvation. When we come to Christ by faith, we are united to him, joined to the true vine, given new hearts, filled with the holy spirit, sealed for the day of redemption, and permanently grafted into the household of God. No one can snatch us from the Father’s hand, Jesus tells us in John 10. Divine grace has infallibly redeemed you from slavery, purchased you from bondage to sin, and adopted you into the divine household.

You’ve been given a new footing and a new standing, based on the work of Jesus Christ, from which you can walk in this life and seek righteousness. Since you’ve been given these good gifts, and you know that you stand secure in the salvation of Jesus, don’t go back to the world’s ways of foolishness. You’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit, God’s very spirit of wisdom, don’t jump back into bed with lady folly. The path of sin will still bring painful consequences in this life, turn away. Continually hear the call of wisdom calling you down the path of righteousness, and away from the path of pain and misery.

And if you haven’t yet come to Christ, if you still are wandering down the path of sin and pain, if you’re still broken and miserable, still dealing with calamity after calamity and just want some peace, then come to Jesus tonight. See how his wisdom and grace is available to you, just like lady wisdom calling out in the market. Jesus stands willing to generously bless any that would come to him.

I’ll close with the words of Ps 37:25 that Describe God’s faithful generosity to his people:

“I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.”

[1] Matthew henry, Proverbs, 654.


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