The Second Sunday after Trinity
June 21, 2020
Wisdom has built her house,
He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
Several of our sons were foreign exchange students in Germany. They joke about how the Germans always know the right way to do everything. Our son David spent a year in Iserlohn. One day, his host parents asked him to prepare an authentic American meal for the family, just as it’s done in America. As David began to prepare hamburgers, his host father interrupted him and told him he was doing it wrong and proceeded to show him the right way to do it. He knew better than the American how to make an American meal!
This is not a uniquely German trait. When it comes to spiritual matters everybody wants to tell God how to do God stuff. God invites them to a meal. They say no thank you. We can prepare our own meal. God invites them to eat and to drink. They give God a list of dietary restrictions along with instructions on how to prepare and serve the meal. God offers wisdom to the simple. He offers understanding to the foolish. He invites them to eat and to drink. More often than not his wisdom is scorned.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Some fear God as the criminal fears justice. They run away from God because they are afraid of what he’ll do to them. They don’t know Christ. They don’t know God’s grace. They don’t have the forgiveness of their sins that the gospel gives. This fear needs to be cast out and replaced with godly fear. Godly fear is fear that is joined to love and trust. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Let’s talk about wisdom.
When I was a boy I read Aesop’s Fables. I loved them. Aesop lived in the sixth century B.C. His fables are short little stories featuring talking animals that teach us the wisdom of the ages. The collective wisdom of mankind is not some deep philosophy in which men of ideas share their ideas about other people’s ideas. It’s down to earth wisdom about commonsensical truth on how to live a decent and virtuous life. When it comes to common sense wisdom, you’ll find that Aesop and Solomon have a lot in common.
But there’s a critical difference. Solomon wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He not only wrote the truth, but he wrote the truth about Christ. In the chapter before our text for this morning, Wisdom says:
Wisdom is eternal. He was there in the beginning. Everything that was made was made through him. He is “begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.” Wisdom is the second person of the Trinity. He is God the Son. St. John calls him the Word. Solomon calls him Wisdom. The Son is the Father’s voice to this world. He reveals to us the Father’s heart. He is eternal Wisdom. He gives us true wisdom, wisdom that remains when everything else is gone, that brings us through every foolish mishap we suffer in this world and ushers us into heaven on the last day.
The word wisdom is in the feminine gender in both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. This is why the feminine possessive pronoun is used in our text: “Wisdom has built her house.” Don’t let that confuse you. Wisdom is the eternal Son of the eternal Father. Wisdom is eternal, but his house is not. The true house of God was not the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem. We read in John 2:19-21,
Jesus’ body is the true temple. Eternal Wisdom became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man. Christ’s body is the temple. It is where God meets us. The church is Christ’s body. The church is where God meets us. The church is built on seven pillars. She is founded on the written word of the sevenfold Spirit of truth. Seven is three plus four. Three stands for God. Four stands for the world. The church is where God meets the world in such a way that the world can fear, love, and trust in him.
Wisdom slaughters the meat, mixes the wine, sends out maidens to invite the guests, and cries out to everyone:
Faith doesn’t just think about it and decide to go along. Faith isn’t content to ponder and wonder. Faith digs in. It eats and drinks. It’s a banquet! It’s delicious! It’s nourishing! Faith eats and drinks. Jesus speaks of faith as eating and drinking in John chapter 6. He says:
First you must be simple. Then you must eat and drink. Simple doesn’t mean stupid and wise doesn’t mean smart. Faith isn’t a matter of intelligence. Wisdom is knowledge. As Solomon writes: “The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” But it’s not like any other kind of knowledge. Faith eats and drinks the wisdom and knowledge of God himself. God comes into us. We take him in. God establishes a union between him and us.
They say you are what you eat. That’s why the venison from deer that ate sugar beet leaves tastes better than the venison from the dear that ate the needles off of pine trees. You are what you eat. If your spiritual food is junk, that’s what your faith will be, too. If you eat only shallow sentimental fluff, you end up with a fluffy faith that can’t stand in the hour of suffering and temptation. The spiritual food we eat matters more than the food we take into our bodies. Our bodies are headed for the grave. God wants to feed our souls with life giving food. It’s not sugary sweet like candy. It’s not empty calories. It’s good for you. Like good food, it’s an acquired taste and when you acquire taste for it you won’t settle for spiritual junk food.
The scoffer won’t be corrected. You correct him and he’ll hate you for it. You correct a wicked man and you’ll suffer for it. The wise man, on the other hand, will love you if you rebuke him. He understands the damage sin does to the soul. He understands how the gospel of the forgiveness of sins is more precious than anything his flesh might desire. He’s wise. He understands. When you teach him he grows still wiser. Christ is true Wisdom. He is our food. When we eat and drink the word of God Christ comes into our lives and gives us true life.
The wisdom we receive in Christ is regarded by this world as foolishness. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. To us who are being saved it is the power and wisdom of God. Why did the crowd leave Jesus when he told them that unless they ate his flesh and drank his blood they would have no life in them? Why do those invited to the banquet make all sorts of lame excuses for refusing the invitation? They could not tolerate the notion that they were spiritually simple and ignorant. They could not acknowledge that they needed the flesh and blood of Jesus offered up on the cross as the sacrifice to take away their sin. They trusted in their own righteousness, their own wisdom, that is, their own flesh.
Wisdom offers food to the simple and those who lack understanding. You must be simple. You must be spiritually ignorant. You must admit that as smart as you think you are, when it comes to finding your way to God you are as blind as a bat and as helpless as a baby. Wisdom cries out to the simple, to those who lack understanding, to those who, despite whatever smarts they have or think they have, do not know how to find God.
You eat and drink. That’s easy. Open your mouth, chew and swallow. That’s not hard. But you don’t choose what it will be. God has already chosen. When God chooses us and makes us his children he also chooses for us the spiritual food and drink with which he will sustain us in our faith. It matters what we eat and drink. The law we hear must be pure and true so that we can know what God requires of us and to acknowledge our sin for what it is. The gospel we hear must be pure and true to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ our Savior. We eat and drink the food and drink of true Wisdom and all our spiritual needs are satisfied. We hunger and thirst for righteousness and are filled.
Rolf D. Preus