Here it is then, the skeleton of my Proverbs 8 sermon for this sunday. Much blood, sweat and tears has gone in already. Comments are very welcome especially since I am yet to flesh all of this out into a sermon script (if you are a Christ Church Central person I hope you will look away at this point and not be naughty and think that if you read this you needn't turn up on sunday - or worse, once you've read it decide you don't want to turn up on sunday).
Sermon Plan: Proverbs 8 (click here for text)
Introduction (vs. 1-5 and context)
Will we follow Lady Wisdom or Lady Folly (cf. Proverbs 7), who will we listen to, who will be our partner to guide us through life? Powerful reasons to listen to Lady Wisdom. That means God’s wisdom. For us it means Jesus Christ.
NB. Throughout the poem the 'argument' builds, with wisdom firstly claiming to be able to deliver tremendous benefits (6-21) then secondly providing theological rationale for these claims in the 'cosmic' passage (22-31). Everything is heading towards the plea found in the conclusion (32-36).
1. Wisdom’s qualities
a. Wisdom’s words are reliable and valuable (vs. 6-10)
b. Wisdom enables good government (vs. 11-16)
c. Wisdom offers great rewards (vs. 17-21)
Application: Among other things, note the marrying of the practical (wisdom is great because it works) and the moral (wisdom is great because it is right) and the way in particular these are married in the concept of righteousness/justice – correct ordering of the world along God’s lines. The creation-based and creation-embracing character of wisdom stands in opposition to our false sacred-secular divisions and our culture’s insistence that pragmatics and morality remain separate, especially in the political sphere.
2. Wisdom’s qualifications
a. Wisdom existed before creation (vs. 22-26). Therefore this wisdom is not merely observation from what has been made, but revelation from the one who made it all.
b. Wisdom was involved in creation (vs. 27-31). The world was ordered by wisdom. Wisdom delighted in the orderly, human-ruled creation of Genesis 1-2. The call to embrace wisdom is the call to re-order along the creator's desires.
Biblical Theology: Jesus Christ as the source of wisdom for us. Is Christ speaking in Proverbs 8? No (in one sense Proverbs 8 is clearly a personification of Solomon’s God-given wisdom, we must allow the full force of the literary device to hold) but of course yes (Solomon’s God-given wisdom finds fulfilment in Jesus Christ, such that what is personified in ‘Lady Wisdom’ is embodied, perfected even (in a teleological sense), in Jesus Christ).
Application: We must seek all that wisdom promises in Prov. 8 in Christ in whom are all the treasures of wisdom. He, the pre-existent Son, not only made all things but he is the reason for which all things have been made. Similarly he is the one in whom all things are being re-created and re-ordered, such that the call to flee folly and embrace wisdom is a call to embrace him for all areas of our life. This is again in contrast to our tendency to ‘spiritualise’ the Christian life or reduce the effects of the gospel to ‘forgives my sins/ticket to heaven’. Christ is the source of all we need to pursue true humanity, true life, and rule the world the way we should. Which leads neatly to
Conclusion: Wisdom offers blessed life (32-36)