Choose Wisdom … and Live

The following was a charge to students at Lewis Clark Christian School from their Headmaster, Joseph Roberts.

There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. Then I said: “Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. Words of the wise, spoken quietly should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.” – Ecclesiastes 9:14-18
King Solomon wrote this three thousand years ago, and human nature has not changed. We are tempted to pursue glory rather than wisdom, but God has called us to pursue wisdom. We want to be the king with the army, yet God wants us to be the poor man who rescues a city, and afterward everyone forgets about him.

But we need to pursue wisdom. It is wisdom that builds civilizations and traditions.

Listen to the words of Alcuin, a Christian teacher in the 700s who was an advisor to Emperor Charlemagne:

I will give to you the tradition of the ancients. For it was, as they say, some time ago, while men wandered in fields as animals do, they did not have any kind of mental reason, but they did everything with physical strength. There was no organized divine religion yet, no one cultivated any concern for human matters. Instead, blind and heedless passion abused physical strength to satisfy itself. In that time some great and wise man knew what kind of substance and how much ability for the greatest things dwelled in the souls of men and women, and that if someone was able to draw it out, and in teaching it make it better.

With reason he rounded up the people scattered in the fields and the ones hiding under sylvan roofs. He gathered them in one repose, and taught them useful and honest work. At first they complained because of the strange novelty of the work, then because of his reason and use of language, they listened eagerly. From being savages and inhuman he made them civilized. And so it seems to me that wisdom is neither silent nor helpless to have done this so well that it turned them from their habits and led them to reasonable ways of life.

Our culture has come a long way from being savages living in caves, but we are faced with the same temptation of complaining at the novelty of the work. The work we have in front of us today is very important. We are preparing ourselves to continue the work of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, all the way to our ancestors, Adam and Eve. We will learn wisdom of the ancients that was first passed on in songs and poems and then written down. God has given us a desire for true and good things. It is our job to pursue whatever is true, whatever is good, whatever is beautiful. We will not take our work lightly –  it is of eternal value, and it can be hard.

Education is like climbing a mountain, and teachers are your guides through the tricky paths. At first, teachers will lead you by the hand, and as you grow, you will walk by their side, and there will be a time that you go on without them. You will reach the end of the mountain when you reach the end of your life. And when you are given a new body in the new heavens and the new earth, you will have an eternity to pursue wisdom.

Proverbs 8 tells us this about wisdom:

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and discretion.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom;
I am understanding, I have strength.
By me kings reign,
And rulers decree justice.
By me princes rule, and nobles,
All the judges of the earth.
I love those who love me,
And those who seek me diligently will find me.
Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver.
I traverse the way of righteousness,
In the midst of the paths of justice,
That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth,
That I may fill their treasuries.
The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,
Or the primal dust of the world.
When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,
Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in His inhabited world,
And my delight was with the sons of men.
Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
For blessed are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise,
And do not disdain it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the Lord;
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death.”

For those who love God, the choice is obvious. Choose wisdom and live. 


Joseph Roberts is Headmaster at Lewis Clark Christian School in Lewiston, ID.  He graduated from New Saint Andrews College in 2016 with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Culture, and in 2017 with a M.A. in Theology and Letters. Joseph speaks English, Spanish, and Latin, and can read Greek and Hebrew. He also plays a mean game of chess, enjoys backpacking and hiking in any weather, and loves cooking for family and friends.