September 16, 2012
In the passage we hear today, Wisdom is represented as a woman, as she is also in the apochraphal book of Sirach (also called, Ecclesiasticus). Wisdom preaches at the city gates, where judicial courts are held and businesses are conducted. The meaning of the metaphor is that wisdom is available to any who seek it, a theme which is carried to the end of our reading.
We are hearing a poem, though I don’t think the printed version given to you will show that. In the new Revised Standard Version, it appears in poetic form. In a manner common to most Old Testament verse, lines appear in couplets, the second line repeating the thought of the first in a different way: “I will pour out my thoughts to you; / I will make my words known to you.” “Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer / they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.” Most of the Psalms consists in such couplets.
Our reading opens with the speaker’s talking about the demands put upon teachers. The rest of the passage is on the power of words. A good man can use his tongue well, like a bit in a horse’s mouth or a rudder on a large boat. But evil uses of the tongue! On this subject the passage excels.