Worship and Wisdom
Our instinct in thinking about worship from a biblical perspective is, rightly, to go to the Psalms. But have you ever considered going to Proverbs? Proverbs 8, for instance, is a beautiful passage of scripture that can help us form a holistic view of worship. The chapter asks simply, “Where can we find wisdom?” The author of Proverbs 8 personifies wisdom as an extremely attractive, beautiful woman—Lady Wisdom, as she is sometimes called. So where do we find such an attractive woman?
1. She is “on the heights, beside the way” (v. 2a)
2. She is “at the crossroads” (v. 2b)
3. She is “beside the gates in front of the town” (v. 3a)
4. She is “at the entrance” (v. 3b)
5. She is “among the paths of righteousness/justice” (v. 20)
6. She is “at the beginning of the Lord's work” (v. 22)
7. When God established the heavens, she was there (v. 27)
8. She is “beside God, like a master workman” (v. 30a)
9. She is “before God” (v. 30b)
10. She is always “rejoicing in his inhabited world” (v. 31)
What can we conclude from this list? Two things: 1) “Wisdom”—Lady Wisdom—is with God, and 2) she is among us in the world.
These concepts obviously have to do with God’s presence. Wisdom, therefore, is much like the “angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament. Wisdom is “with” God (indeed, representing God in some sense), but also in the world at the same time. To grasp wisdom, then—taking hold of her, not forsaking her, loving her, and prizing her highly (Proverbs 4:5-9)—is to partake in the presence of God himself since wisdom derives from God who himself possesses all wisdom.
With Peter's plea of "Where else can we go?" (John 6:68), we might ask, "Where else can we find wisdom?" Like Peter's reply, our source is the living Word of God, which is the transcribed wisdom of God. We can go nowhere else to find true and lasting wisdom—it must come from the source of all wisdom.
I read a good worship book recently in which the author encourages the church to practice the presence of God. By that he means uniquely engaging with God as we cherish and pursue his presence, both individually and corporately. Have you ever considered the task of gathering together in worship as partaking in the wisdom of God? Let the Proverbs be a guide to you as you pursue wisdom in worship.
Josh Philpot (@joshphilpot) is the Pastor for Worship and Administration at Founders Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.