In the Christian faith, we speak of God as a Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The God who is above all and in all, who created the world we live in. The Son, Jesus, who came as a human but was yet also divine—the books of the Bible called the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) tell the story of how if we have seen Jesus we have seen God. And the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promises to send to the disciples, and yet who is found in subtle and mysterious places through the Bible. And this passage from Proverbs is one of them.
Proverbs is in the Old Testament, so it would have been in the Scriptures that Jesus read. It is the book often attributed to King Solomon, the third king of Israel, who was known for his wisdom (although a whole lot of what he did doesn’t seem to me to be that wise—that’s another story). Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings, and good advice, and insightful perspectives on how to live and how to understand the world. And in the passage we have from chapter 4, it seems to personify “wisdom” in a way that sounds a lot like what Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit will be about. And it connects “wisdom”/”Holy Spirit” not just to something that Jesus says will be given to the disciples after Jesus leaves them, but to the very beginning of time. From Proverbs 4:22-23:
“The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth” (Proverbs 4:22-23). It goes on to describe everything being created at the beginning of time, and that wisdom not only was there, but active, engaged in the process of this creation: “when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race” (Proverbs 4:29b-31). When we are told in Genesis that God saw all that God had made, and it was good—including “the human race”—Wisdom rejoiced in this creation, especially in us, in people.
So this Holy Spirit that Jesus promises to the disciples—and to us--to guide and bless and sustain and challenge and strengthen and nudge—not a new thing, but the continuation of God’s creative presence from the very beginning of time.
So trust in the Holy Spirit. It is God present with us, within us, blowing like the wind—you can’t see it, but you can see what it does. A cool breeze when it’s hot—a warm breeze when we’re cold—a powerful force when things need to be moved—a still reminder of presence when we’re in those uncertain times. And STILL at work, to sustain our lives.
OLD TESTAMENT Proverbs 4:1-4, 22-31
1 Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4 ‘To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
22 The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
26 when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.
GOSPEL John 16:12-15
12‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.