In the church that meets in our home, we’re studying through the book of Proverbs. We came across some interesting verses last Friday on the topic of wisdom. There was some lively and spirited discussion. At the end, someone commented, “I predict a blog post coming on!” They were right, and here it is.
Here are the points that we noted:
- Wisdom is personified. The Greek word is Sophia. I, Wisdom live together with good judgment (Proverbs 8:12). Listen as Wisdom calls out!… She takes her stand at the crossroads (Proverbs 8:1-2)
- Wisdom is female. She offers you long life in her right hand…Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire compares with her (Proverbs 3: 14-15)
- We are to seek Wisdom, and in doing so find life. Those who search will surely find me (Proverbs 8:17) Whoever finds me finds life (Proverbs 8:35)
- Wisdom helped create the earth. The Lord formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else. I was appointed in ages past at the very first before the earth began (Proverbs 8:22-23) I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight,
rejoicing always in his presence. And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family! (Proverbs 8: 30-31)
- Wisdom sounds remarkably like Jesus. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (John 1:1-3) …Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30) I am the way, the truth and the life (John 10:10)
- Wisdom sounds like the Holy Spirit too. She will guide you down delightful paths (Proverbs 3:17) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13) I know where to discover knowledge and discernment (Proverbs 8:12) Think of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
One can come up with some interesting ideas about the interplay of the feminine with the godhead from this. What do you think?
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19 replies on “Some feminine wisdom”
The Son and the Spirit as wisdom, indeed! But I’m wondering whether the personification of wisdom as female is more a literary device than anything of theological significance. I’m led to suggest this because the father voice of the early chapters of Proverbs is earnestly counselling a son to discern the seductions (also portrayed by a feminine image) that lead to death, and choose rather to embrace wisdom, which is life. The clever feminization of perversity and of wisdom achieves the somewhat dramatic impact of the apparently vulnerable young (male) heart being at a crucial juncture of choice, with the loving father imploring him to choose life. More is at stake than what the son can see on his own. He is at risk because of the seductive guises of evil.
It may be a literary device–we’ll never know for sure, but I like the concept. To me, it stands in stark contrast to a lot of what is talked about women. Women are so often portrayed as being open to deception because of Eve, but here wisdom is personified as female.
Loved the title!
Those verses always make me feel good about being a woman. Knowing that, wisdom something so needed, is ‘she’ in the bible.
Here we see God as male and female. This brings me back to 1995 when I was visiting friends, Messianic Jews. This is what they told me:
When God made Adam, he was made in the image of God.
Adam had the characteristics of a male and female.
Then God caused a deep sleep to fall on man, and He took his side, and made woman. (They emphasised that its not Adam’s ‘rib’, but his ‘side’, according to their understanding of the Torah).
After Eve was created, Adam was no longer in God’s image.
When man and woman consummate marriage, they become One, thus together as man and wife, they fulfil the image of God.
Because God has male and female characteristics in Him.
So don’t be surprised if He refers to Himself as a He or She, as with Wisdom mentioned above.
I found that interesting, but a lot of Christians disagree with the Messianic Jews’ view. So what do you think?
Christopher, I also hold to this same belief, though I’m not Jewish (Messianic or otherwise); I identify so much with this group! 🙂
I was going to say something along what you said but you said it so well. Anyhow, it’s tricky to assign just one gender to God. God the ‘Father’ could very easily be thought of as feminine simply due to the creative and life-bringing aspect of God creating everything.
I have been trying very hard to stop using pronouns when referring to God, because God isn’t just he or she. God is… God! 🙂
I love that God has many names: creator, physician, comfort, love, savior, etc… I think father falls into that as well, but why not mother, too?
Darah, would there be declarations in scripture, either by God or about Him or toward Him, that would lead one to personally speak to Him or about Him as “mother”? Would the answer make a difference to how we approach the matter?
Jim, in answer to your question, i found the following on this website: http://www.moodychurch.org/crossroads/blog/gods-feminine-attributes/
♦ God comforts his people like a mother comforts her child (Isaiah 66:13)
♦ Like a woman would never forget her nursing child, God will not forget his children (Isaiah 49:15)
♦ God is like a mother eagle hovering over her young (Deuteronomy 32:11)
♦ God seeks the lost like a housekeeper, trying to find her lost coin (Luke 15:8-10)
♦ God cares for his people like a midwife that cares for the child she just delivered (Ps 22:9-10, Ps 71:6, Isa 66:9)
♦ God experiences the fury of a mother bear robbed of her cubs (Hosea 13:8)
♦ Jesus longed for the people of Jerusalem, like a mother hen longs to gather her chicks under her wings (Luke 13:34)
the traditional church seems very uncomfortable with feminine references to God, but they are just as valid, imho. obviously, Jesus was male, but he had to be one or the other, and let’s face it: in the time he chose to appear, a female form wouldn’t have been as effective.
Thanks, Darah. Yes, there are, indeed, many “like a …” expressions throughout scripture, and they are such neat expressions in what they reveal about God and His ways. However, can we legitimately go from “like a …”, (a comparison device which points to an overlapping or shared or similar quality or characteristic) and say that there is an equation? Would one fairly refer to me as female, call me “miss” or “Mrs.”, because I “run like a girl” (whatever that means! Ha!). There is, I suggest, a significant distinction to be made between saying “Like a woman would never forget her nursing child, God will not forget his children” and saying, God is a woman … or a mother eagle or a mother bear.” The “like a …” statements are not “is” statements.
I personally embrace what Felicity is bringing forward in this blog, but I’m wary of ascribing gender to God in the way that we heavenly earth-dwellers think of gender. I think Felicity’s response is helpful — it takes both genders to represent [or demonstrate?] God. I’m also paying attention to the fact that Jesus says that whoever has seen Him, has seen the Father, not “the Mother.” We must be careful that we do not re-cast God as part of an effort to bring correction to the distorted views / dispositions/ behaviours toward women, in the church and broader cultures.
i see what you’re getting at. i don’t have a problem thinking of God as ‘Father’ in certain times, but how often will a child run to Mother when they need comforted? in times where comfort is needed, the image of Mother is the first person i think of. maybe because i’m a girl, and i am emotionally closer to my mom than my dad, but when i need encouragement, i seek my Mother. when i need instruction, i seek my Father. God has all of theses attributes, and we seek God in all circumstances. is it wrong to think of God’s ‘feminine side’ while we seek comfort, and God’s ‘masculine side’ when we seek instruction?
again, i don’t think God is one or the other, which is why i’m trying very hard to avoid pronouns, but that God is both and then some.
Hi Darah, I think your “and then some” sums it up. God is so much more than male plus female.
Darah, I agree with this. God loves mankind enough to work within the boundaries we create for him. Example: God didn’t want Israel to have a king, but when they insisted on being like all the nations round about them, he worked through the kings. God didn’t want patriarchy, but when mankind chose that, he loves us enough to work within that–although all the while giving us leaders like Deborah, Esther, Huldah etc.
My thought on this is that God is Spirit, and therefore without gender. But it takes both genders to fully represent him.
Christopher, this is a fascinating concept. I’ve never seen it before. It made me go back to Genesis. It’s hard to validate from there but it makes perfect sense.
It makes sense to me too, and with that belief, it let me see my wife/women in a different light. We are not made, where one gender is superior to the other, but different, so that the one compliments the other and the work-load and tasks are shared, just as it says in Genesis, “God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is like him.” I think that to ridicule or mock women would be to ridicule God.
Christopher I have heard that Jews consider themselves ‘born again’ at many landmarks in their lives eg when a boy becomes a man, in marriage, and various other events (Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again). Is that so? If that is so, then one could argue from this traditional explanation in another way, man and woman together could be said to be in minature the new ‘Christ’/Adam (the union of man and woman) or again represent the fullness (or part thereof) of the image of God as they are now reborn. Don’t know if that helps at all – probably not. Armanda
God created mankind to have fellowship with Him and to be His image on earth. He created them male and female. Everything is created in Christ and by Christ therefore Christ is in both male and female. In Christ (believers) there is also no separation of male and female, slave nor freeman, nationality or race, we are all priests and heirs with Him therefore Christ is both male and female. So why do we worry so much about the issue???
I don’t think we would worry if everyone saw it that way.