“The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances…In the long period of his preparation he must betray often an ignorance and shiftlessness in popular arts, incurring the disdain of the able who shoulder him aside. Long must he stammer in his speech, often forgo the living for the dead. Worst yet – he must accept –how often! –Poverty and solitude.”
This description of a scholar by Ralph Waldo Emerson resonates with me. The line “long must he stammer in his speech” especially describes how I feel most often in my studies. The difficulty in articulating what I understand in comparison with what I don’t understand is challenging. I have learned that the more I know, the more I don’t know. The Bible cautions us to distinguish between “understanding and wisdom” Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
Proverbs 4:5-9 reads:
“ Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her.
9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”
Scripture teaches us that wisdom first has the ability to preserve, or keep the ones who love “her.” In other words, the passions of our hearts have a way of preserving us through the difficulties of our lives. What we love ends up defining us for good or for ill. Secondly, when we push wisdom to the forefront of our lives, wisdom returns the favor, with promotion. Honor follows wisdom but only when wisdom is embraced. The difficulty is that our passions are divided. Wisdom is traded for the expedient, for the pragmatic. What works should not be misconstrued for what lasts, they are not always the same. Wisdom by nature hides itself. She must be found, she must be sought out.
Finally, wisdom delivers an ‘ornament of grace’ and a ‘crown of glory,’ it is interesting that both of these are decorative of the head that transforms the entire person. An ordinary person is deemed royalty with the addition of a crown. And notice the progression. Wisdom first delivers an ornament of grace, before giving a crown of glory. If our lives are to be illuminated with a crown of glory, we must first by transformed by the ornament of grace.
Wisdom is hard to come by these days. She is hiding. What a tease.