11.2 Discernment: Lady Wisdom & Madame Insight.

Listen to this!

Today’s Lectio Divina: 

Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you; take to heart my commands. They’ll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well. Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people. Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give Him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under His loving correction. It’s the child He loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this. Proverbs 3: 1-12 (MsgB)


Ignatian Truth #11: Ignatian spirituality is all about Rules of Discernment. A discerning person is always looking for an inner awareness of the movement of the Spirit, asking the question, “Am I being driven or drawn?” Ignatius’ analogy of a drop of water hitting a sponge (consolation) or a rock (desolation) is helpful, and a discerning person knows to keep discerning even after a decision is made, and not to change a decision made in a season of consolation when found in a time of desolation.


Today’s passage from the Book of Proverbs (chapter 3) is just one of the hundreds of texts found in the Holy Scriptures that beckons us to wake up from our slumber and choose to live a life full of wisdom and truth. Yet sadly, in today’s church culture, while we talk a lot about making mature disciples of Christ, we actually spend more time, as pastors and leaders, trying to make our churches bigger in numbers rather than going deeper with those who are already there! If you’ve been around my blogs for very long, you’ll know my story that I spent way too many years, as a pastor, measuring my success by focusing on the 3-B’s of church growth: (B)uildings, (B)ucks, and (B)utts in the seats!

But over the last decade or so, I’ve been drawn by God to move away from that ugly, and quite honestly, unbiblical measuring stick, and am convinced that St. Ignatius had it right when he focused both himself and his friends on becoming wise and discerning Christ-followers, men and women who practice his Rules of Discernment, living lives that reflect the powerful words found in today’s passage in Proverbs.

King Solomon, as he wrote these words, perceived wisdom and understanding (or as Ignatius would call it, discernment) as a person, an individual we should befriend and hold close to us as we travel through life. Look at his words here in Proverbs 3: 13-18 (NIV): 

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.

 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Eugene Peterson, in his Message translation of this same text, goes further with Solomon’s personification of “wisdom” and “understanding” by calling these two, Lady Wisdom and Madame Insight!

Which begs a question or two.

When was the last time Lady Wisdom and Madame Insight were welcome guests at your table?

Are you one of those earthlings who leans heavily on your own ability to figure out life? Or are you one of those wise and discerning people who follows the suggestions of King Solomon?

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!

Pretty clear marching orders, don’t you think?

Sounds like Lady Wisdom and Madame Insight had a pretty strong hand in helping Solomon pen these ancient words of wisdom.

My prayer: Father God, it’s apparent from Your Word that Lady Wisdom and Madame Insight are ancient friends of yours. Thank You that King Solomon introduced these two mentors to us and that through the work of the Holy Spirit, they can become trusted friends of ours as well as we journey through this life. May I reflect their wisdom and understanding, for Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: In a world where confusion and complexity are commonplace, what intentional steps am I taking to regularly sit down at the table with Lady Wisdom and Madame Insight? Ignatius suggested we learn to work from his Rules of Discernment. Am I listening and responding to these voices of wisdom or am I still attempting to lean only on my own understanding?

How are you experiencing God as you ponder on these Ignatian truths today? 


Over a period of twelve weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take this journey into Iggy’s Biggies, contemplating twelve foundational truths found within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read.

If you’ve never journeyed through the Exercises, might I suggest that you find a qualified spiritual director and ask them to accompany you along the way? Here at The Contemplative Activist, we can offer a good number of highly qualified folks to do just that.

Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activistwith your friends! 

Click here to go on to the next blog/podcast in this series…

1 thought on “11.2 Discernment: Lady Wisdom & Madame Insight.

  1. Pingback: 11.1 Discernment: Growing Up Before We Grow Old. | The Contemplative Activist

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