I was listening to a teaching on the Beatitudes and this particular one stood out,
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”.
This refers to the humility of the heart – a state where I am nothing and I have nothing but You. That’s the crux of what follows.
A very interesting word that stood out was the Hebrew word ‘Hokma‘ used to explain poor in Spirit. I took to reference books to understand this word. ‘Hokma’ in its Hebrew meaning is often used interchangeably with wisdom; something like a “skilled artisan“, someone with the ability to create something new.
In the Old Testament, Bezalel was given hokma to build the furnishings for the Tabernacle (Ex: 31) and in the New Testament, God speaks to the Corinths saying,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent, I will frustrate” (1 Cor 1:19).
Both examples help us understand that hokma doesn’t refer to worldly intelligence instead it refers to God’s wisdom inspiring you to know what to do and to do what God intends for you do at that time.
To explain further – Solomon in the Bible epitomises wisdom, even he tried to find fulfilment apart from God. In his old age he authored Ecclesiastes and is quoted saying,
“I amassed silver and gold for myself and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired . . . a harem as well–the delights of the heart of man”,
but his harem did not bring happiness. Instead,
“everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Eccl 2:11).
Towards the end of Ecclesiastes, the secret to Solomon’s counsel is revealed:
“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandment for this is the whole [duty] of man” (12:13).”
So Solomon’s writings have clarified wisdom and poor in spirit. The call is to come to God recognising one’s own spiritual emptiness and the sheer poverty of one’s own soul. A quote from Saint Augustine of Hippo,
“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”
The more I think I know, the less I become because self sufficiency steals faith.