This portion of Proverbs 1 conjures up such mental images for me. I’m reminded of the scene in The Matrix, where Neo wants to run, and Trinity opens the car door and tells him he’s free to go. The camera pans toward the open door, and a long dark road can be seen through the pouring rain. As they both look toward the deserted road, Trinity says, “is this what you really want Neo? You’ve been down that road before, and we both know where it ends.”
Even though the scene in the movie is a dark and deserted street, I see a correlation with the description in verses 20-23. I can just see wisdom standing at the end of a bustling street, shouting for all she’s worth…”listen, listen to me. Don’t do it, don’t go there, you won’t like the result! Turn back now, while there’s still time! Listen, LISTEN!” And, as the people all rush past her, they look at her as if she’s totally lost her mind and her insanity is a contagious disease that they might contract by being near her. But later, when all of her predictions have been realized, they lament their predicament, and ask where she was when they needed her, why was she not there to help them? Both of these scenes are about choices, about listening to that inner voice that wants to “pour its heart out and make its thoughts known.” Wisdom was there all along, they just didn’t recognize her as they rushed past with a disgusted look on their faces, and they never took the time to stop, to seek, or to listen.
So this is what I think the riddle means: When seeking wisdom it’s so important to stop, to consider, and to listen. Seek the counsel of God, of your parents, your trusted friends. So many times we rush head-long into situations, never considering the consequences of our actions, and when it all turns out wrong, we’re ready to blame anybody, everybody, but ourselves. We wonder why Wisdom (or God), seems to have abandoned us, and in reality, we never sought her out, or if we did, we didn’t heed her direction.
The chapter ends with “but he who listens to me will dwell in safety, untouched by the terror of misfortune.” Such truth these words speak. To live a “wise” life, we must seek wise counsel, be still and listen, hear what Wisdom (AKA God) has to say about it, and do not turn from the truth because it presents itself in a form that we may not recognize.