Moving towards Wisdom

This coming Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday. The selection of the first reading from the Book of Proverbs can be seen as a celebration of Wisdom even in the primordial moment of creation. It is as though the scribes are saying, “Look, we are celebrating in our day, what the Lord has provided for us since the dawn of creation.” The dawn when the Spirit hovered over the chaos.

27 “When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep; 28 When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth; 29 When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command; 30 Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, Playing before him all the while, 31 playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men. 

This presents the panorama of the Lord’s creative actions in a movement from below to above, vv. 27–29 present them in the reverse direction, moving from the heavens (v. 27a) and its horizon (v. 27b) to the sky and clouds (v. 28a) downward to the fountains of the deep (v. 28b) and the seashores (v. 29b) and finally to the foundations of the earth (v. 29b). Thematically, Wisdom represents the Lord as firmly establishing the cosmic entities that both sustain and threaten human existence. In both sections (vv. 24–27 and 27–29), however, the earth as the realm of human life is the aim of the presentation. All the metaphors for creation in vv. 27–29 signify that each of the cosmic entities on which human life depends are so firmly fixed within the created order that they cannot overreach themselves or be transgressed by another. Were it otherwise, the cosmos would crumble into chaos. Humanity’s physical existence depends on a firmly structured universe. The Lord’s fixed created order serves as a model of his fixed moral boundaries for human beings to prevent society from collapsing into anarchy.

Wisdom’s Role. The previous verses’ “I was there” gives way to a more intimate description: “I was beside…” underscoring Wisdom’s pre-existence to the creation and her close proximity to the Creator at the time.

30 Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, Playing before him all the while, 31 playing on the surface of his earth;  and I found delight in the sons of men. 

Wisdom is again referred to in her creative capacity as “craftsman” – but is a trade that is anything but laborious, but rather joyful, leading to delight.

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