The Beatitudes, and the Sermon on the Mount, are too deep to be confined to any one approach. They announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God. They also describe the code of conduct for those who live under the kingship of Christ. And, they give hope to those who are stuck in situations they cannot change as they wait for the fullness of the Kingdom to break forth. And they also teach us the wise way to live as we wait.
The ancient Hebrews valued wisdom. Sages, or wise men, took on the mantle of teaching wisdom and recording it. Wisdom was everything from the art of learning how to succeed in life to the philosophical study of the essence of life to living in faith and fear of the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Wisdom was popularly recorded in poetic form, stating these general life truths in riddles, proverbs, or poems. The Scriptures are filled with wisdom writers and their writings. The most well known is Solomon, but Ahithophel and Hushai contributed many wisdom sayings, too.
Solomon was clear about wisdom. The wise seek it; fools scoff at it. Consider the words of Solomon:
1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; 3for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; 4for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—5let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— 6for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. 8Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. (Proverbs 1.1-9)
Let the wise listen and add to their learning for fools despise wisdom. The teachings of Jesus in the Beatitudes can be studied from many angles, but let us not miss the value of reading them as words of wisdom, words of instruction, words of understanding for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, words that guide and lead, words what will adorn our heads with grace.