A plaster swirl detail on the ceiling of Trinity Church

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: Which Way To Turn

Proverbs 8:1–4, 22

Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand.
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.

In the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a female voice calling out. She is everywhere — at the “heights” of the mountains, walking beside us on the way, and in the middle of the bustling city, where she stands at the gates and calls above the din and bustle. I am especially struck that wisdom is noted as being at the “crossroads.” Wisdom, Proverbs says, is waiting at the fork in the road. She is in the moments when we must choose left or right, where we can move straight ahead or turn around and walk back from where we came from.

Many of us, in these times of change, are facing crossroads — trying to make hard decisions about our jobs, our relationships, and even our faith. How can we know which way to turn — which road is the right one? It may be that there is not one perfect path. That, in fact, we can only go where wisdom seems to be prompting us. To hear the voice of wisdom is to have accumulated experiences and setbacks, to have walked for a while with her through hardship and even bad choices. We have a relationship with wisdom, and like all relationships, there is growth and transformation. We come to know what is wise with practice and fortitude, and often through our mistakes.

At the crossroads, Proverbs says wisdom “takes her stand.” She shows up for us, allowing us to gather ourselves, to remember what we already know and to choose wisely. Her voice may be loud, as in Proverbs, or may feel like the still small voice in Elijah’s cave — a quiet prompting that nudges us towards conviction. Either way, she follows us where we go. She finds us as a comfort and a friend, a companion ever drawing near to us, if only we will listen.

—Summerlee Staten

The Bible Project introduces us to the Book of Proverbs.

Consider this image of the Hagai Sophia, or the “Church of Holy Wisdom,” from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hildegard of Bingen praises wisdom.

Deacon Joey Clavijo from St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church looks at Psalm 8 and the Six Principles of Eco-Justice.

Jill Phillips beautifully meditates on wisdom.

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Coming Soon

Sundays this summer, beginning June 19, Discovery will explore Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians with insights on Paul’s views of love, spiritual gifts, and resurrection, from Dr. Lisa Bowens, Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. Each month will feature one “Bible toolkit” session with Dr. Bowens followed by parishioner-moderated discussions.