1 Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars. 2 She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table. 3 She has sent out her servant girls, she calls from the highest places in the town, 4 “You that are simple, turn in here!” To those without sense she says, 5 “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. 6 Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”
9 O, fear the LORD, you, his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want. 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
According to Psalm 34 those who fear the Lord–all his saints, and that would include us, “have no want and lack no good thing.” Indeed, we have a reasonable hope for a long, good life. Or, as the Psalm says, “for many days to enjoy good.” That is a beautiful phrase, but this Psalm is a best-case scenario.
For instance, we know that we do not always get everything we want. As I approached my 16th Birthday, I wanted a 1965 Mustang fastback in Rangoon Red with a 271 horsepower 289 c.i. V8 and a four-speed. I am still waiting. I am okay with it because Jesus said that God would meet the needs of his followers, not our wants.
Likewise, we know that stuff happens. We don’t all get to live long pleasant lives, filled with good, and then go gently into that even longer good night.
On Monday of this week, I visited with a young man in his early thirties who has been battling cancer for 18 years. Over the last two decades, as I have taken my own life and well-being for granted, he has endured countless transfusions, rounds of chemotherapy, and courses of radiation. I heard he was in hospice care. I was with him at the start of his struggle. Selfishly, I wanted to be near him as that struggle drew to a close. During the visit, I was awed by unfailing courage and character. I was reassured that his life has been remarkable in a way that mine never has. He died on Thursday, and I help but wonder what he might have been, had been permitted to live a long, full life.
Most of us will eventually be challenged in some way. Perhaps you know the story of Solon, who lived six centuries before Christ and laid the foundations of Athenian democracy, and Croesus, the last king of Lydia who was renowned for his wealth. Croesus was as rich as Croesus! After Solon retired from public life, he left Athens to take a tour of the known world. His travels took him to Sardis, the capital of Lydia, and there he met Croesus. Croesus showed Solon all the trappings of his wealth and power, and asked, “Solon, do you not reckon me the happiest of men?” And Solon said, “I count no man happy until he is dead.” Solon knew that life could turn on a denarius. A long happy string of yesterdays cannot guarantee our happiness today, or tomorrow. Croesus rejected the wisdom of Solon. Yet, less than two years later, he understood, albeit briefly, for he met Cyrus, King of Persia, in battle, and Cyrus crushed his army and claimed his life.
The scripture does not promise that bad things will never happen to good people. The scripture does promise that those who live like fools and worship the god of the belly, which is the appetites, will suffer much and die before their time.
Thankfully, Scripture also offers assurances to those who fear God and second chances to those who have, in their folly, made a bad beginning.
In the book of Proverbs God offers us wisdom. In Chapter 9 wisdom is presented as a great lady, a charming and beautiful maiden, and a wise old woman all rolled up into one. She has built her house on seven pillars, prepared her feast, and mixed her wine. She calls out to the wise and the foolish, inviting us to turn into her feast so that we might walk in the way of wisdom and insight and live.
Bread and wine are food for the body. Wisdom and insight are food for the soul.
In John chapter 6, Jesus offers us a feast that is better than the feast of wisdom. He offers us his body and his blood. He promises that those who accept his invitation and attend his feast will enjoy not just a long, good life—but eternal life in the heavenly kingdom.
People face different trials. Some people live so close to the margins of existence that they don’t give a damn about life after death; they just want to be assured there is life after birth. Others, those who are older, and those who are ill, and those who are increasingly fearful of the pandemic, just want to be assured that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Whatever your need, Jesus can meet it. Today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is the host at this table. He says, “I am the Resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, though they die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” And he says, “Come!” “All ye who labor and are heavy-laden, Come!” And the Spirit and the Bride, which is the church, say “Come!” And let all who hear say, “Come!” “Eat this bread and drink this cup.” It is better than bread and wine. It is better than wisdom and insight. It is life and it is eternal life all rolled up into one.