Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling? Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She's taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
"You - I'm talking to all of you, everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots - learn good sense! You blockheads - shape up!
Don't miss a word of this - I'm telling you how to live well, I'm telling you how to live at your best.
My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth - I can't stand the taste of evil!
You'll only hear true and right words from my mouth; not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.
You'll recognize this as true - you with open minds; truth-ready minds will see it at once.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
"I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion - pride and arrogance and crooked talk.
Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me; those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me - also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road - that's where I walk - at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life - armloads of life!
"God sovereignly made me - the first, the basic - before he did anything else.
I was brought into being a long time ago, well before Earth got its start.
I arrived on the scene before Ocean, yes, even before Springs and Rivers and Lakes.
Before Mountains were sculpted and Hills took shape, I was already there, newborn;
Long before God stretched out Earth's Horizons, and tended to the minute details of Soil and Weather,
And set Sky firmly in place, I was there. When he mapped and gave borders to wild Ocean,
built the vast vault of Heaven, and installed the fountains that fed Ocean,
When he drew a boundary for Sea, posted a sign that said, no trespassing, And then staked out Earth's foundations,
I was right there with him, making sure everything fit. Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause, always enjoying his company,
Delighted with the world of things and creatures, happily celebrating the human family.
"So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don't squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day's work.
When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God's good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul; when you reject me, you're flirting with death."
Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home; it's supported by seven hewn timbers.
The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted, wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.
Having dismissed her serving maids, Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within sound of her voice:
"Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
I've prepared a wonderful spread - fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning."
If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you'll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.
So don't waste your time on a scoffer; all you'll get for your pains is abuse. But if you correct those who care about life, that's different - they'll love you for it!
Save your breath for the wise - they'll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know - they'll profit from it.
Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God, insight into life from knowing a Holy God.
It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen.
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life; mock life and life will mock you. Madame Whore Calls Out, Too
Then there's this other woman, Madame Whore - brazen, empty-headed, frivolous.
She sits on the front porch of her house on Main Street,
And as people walk by minding their own business, calls out,
"Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on?
Steal off with me, I'll show you a good time! No one will ever know - I'll give you the time of your life."
But they don't know about all the skeletons in her closet, that all her guests end up in hell.
Does it sound like we're patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we're not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you.
You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you.
Christ himself wrote it - not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives - and we publish it.
We couldn't be more sure of ourselves in this - that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation.
We wouldn't think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter.
His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn't written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It's written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!
The Government of Death, its constitution chiseled on stone tablets, had a dazzling inaugural. Moses' face as he delivered the tablets was so bright that day (even though it would fade soon enough) that the people of Israel could no more look right at him than stare into the sun.
How much more dazzling, then, the Government of Living Spirit?
If the Government of Condemnation was impressive, how about this Government of Affirmation?
Bright as that old government was, it would look downright dull alongside this new one.
If that makeshift arrangement impressed us, how much more this brightly shining government installed for eternity?
With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back.
Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn't notice that the glory was fading away -
and they didn't notice. They didn't notice it then and they don't notice it now, don't notice that there's nothing left behind that veil.
Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can't see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there's nothing there.
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are - face to face!
They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We're free of it!
All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)