"Wisdom is in the presence of a man with understanding,” says the proverb, “but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” The author is implying that the Fool could have a similarly intimate friendship with Wisdom if he could break the vicious cycle of his self-involvement.
If he would stop scanning billboards, checking out the women in passing cars, and skipping through radio channels looking for songs by Beyoncé, the Fool might notice that the truth about life was nearby—maybe even as near as the passenger seat. In other words, Wisdom is saying to the Fool, If you waste your days chasing fashions, getting drunk, and cultivating celebrity lusts, I won’t be held accountable for your pathetic end. Just so you know: I’ve been energetically trying to get your attention for the last 20 years.
This is bad news for fools.
And, without making unnecessary insinuations, it could also be bad news for us. Proverbs describes Wisdom like a companion who is always there, but unseen, the invisible friend who is really invisible (and inaudible) only because you ignore her. Isaiah describes something similar when he writes about a Voice who speaks from behind you, acting like a magical guide, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”
I would like to have a Voice like this, backing me up, better than a combat expert, because only rarely do I face the prospect of a fist fight while I am constantly wondering what to do, which decision to make, at this particular stretch of minutes in my life. The thing is, though, Proverbs and Isaiah seem to be suggesting that Wisdom, this Voice, actually has my back as I speak. Apparently this is the kind of presence you stare at so long that you no longer see or hear it.
It gets worse. I think this was the kind of disability that Jesus was at such pains to heal, all the while hinting that if you couldn’t hear what he was saying when he spoke, couldn’t see the heart of his miracles, you were already a goner. “If you can hear what I’m saying, then hear me,” Jesus said. “If you can see what I’m doing, then, for God’s sake, see it.”
Fact 1: As Jesus walked through Galilee and Samaria and down the streets in Jerusalem, the truth about everything was staring those people in the face.
Fact 2: As indicated by Proverbs and Isaiah and the Gospels, the truth is still staring us in the face.
No arcane knowledge or smart ass intelligence is required to see it. Quite the opposite. As I think about it, the application shapes up this way: Fall on my face and pray to God to forgive my arrogance and fix my eyes and ears, fix my head, so I can see the terrible beauty of the created world and run to get in step with the music, the rattle and hum, of Christ’s advancing kingdom. My emerging definition of a fool: someone who stubbornly won't look at what is in front of him, for example, in Jeremiah 29:11.
We all know more about the shape of this world than we let on. Most of us have a better avenue into the heart of Wisdom than our lives imply. And Christ, the Wisdom of the universe, the Oracle graciously revealed in a startling book, is standing at our shoulders, waiting.