February 12, 2014

All Who Are Wise-Hearted

I finished reading Exodus several evenings back.  Several weeks back, actually.  It's one of those deceptive books of the Bible that start out easy enough and then BOOM! you hit the instructions for the tabernacle and immediately slow to a crawl.  I confess to occasionally wondering why and wherefore as I moved through the minutiae, but from time to time something would spring out at me - often something more or less tangential.

"And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded you..."
exodus 31:6

The context, of course, is the construction and ornamentation of the sanctuary.  In the chapters preceding we see God laying out for Moses the blueprint of the tabernacle, then calling for "all who are wise-hearted" to participate in the actual building.  Two men were called out in particular and given special insight - Bezaleel and Aholiab - but it was the blanket description of all the craftsmen that struck me.  In other translations they're just "skilled artisans," but in this case I think the King James has hit on something.

all who are wise-hearted

That is probably the best description of real artists I've ever read.  You could argue that these men were wise-hearted because God especially blessed them, or that they were wise-hearted because they were the people of God, but I think it's far more basic than that.  These artisans were already wise-hearted; their work was the manifestation of it.  We've all read authors and found them unbelievably good - books where we reach the end and cannot fathom how a single mind could have held in all that complexity, let alone articulated it.  We've read poems that captured so much in so few lines.  We've seen paintings and statues and been left speechless by something.  

This isn't restricted to believing artists: we'd be foolish and bigoted to suppose it is.  Dickens very probably wasn't a Christian and I doubt Rosemary Sutcliff was.  I recently finished Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and that author gave me that wonderfully horrible feeling of inadequacy  every really great book should.  In the art field, I know very little about Bernini and want to know even less, but his "David" is one of the most amazing statues I've ever seen.  There's something in the heart of man that has this amazing capacity for beauty, even for glory, and I think that something is the wisdom of the artist.  It has little or nothing to do with form and rules, except perhaps in knowing how to break them.  I'm not sure I can put my finger on what it is, but I think that if you have some of it yourself, you know it when you see it in others.

wisdom is vindicated by her children.


  1. Thank you for sharing this and putting these things into words. It unlocks aspects of the creativity of man and the heart of the creative man that I had not been able to see clearly before. Wise-hearted. I think that is best.

    1. This has been meaning to be posted for a while, and I'm afraid now that it has been posted it's all very blah-blah, but thank you. I'm glad you were able to make sense of it, at least.

    2. Okay, what I'm not getting across, because I want to be all serious, is how much I love this post. I was just minding my own business, saw you had put up a blog post, read it, and then this.

  2. In a quiet, yet still startling way, I understand what you are saying. It's that feeling when you finish a good book or gaze on a glorious piece of artwork or listen to music played so well that you want to get up and add your own clumsy steps to the melody. It's the golden thread that runs through every artist, every miniature creator who is wise-hearted and does his work well. You can't pick it out or squeeze it into a formula, but it's there and it's what makes you shake and sing simultaneously. You've hit upon it quite profoundly, Abigail, and your words were lovely to read. ^.^

  3. A lovely post, indeed! This passage has meant a lot to me since I "discovered" it several years ago. It let me know that God certainly did place His artistry and creativity inside certain people's DNA and that it's meant to be valuable and used for His glory. It's special and not meant to get lost in the bustle and business of the world. KJV's translation of this Hebrew phrase is spot on literal -- it's "wise of heart" in Hebrew! Thank you for sharing!

  4. A wonderful post, Abigail! You have, in such an understated way, expressed the thing of the creative mind so well.

    I remember that time when I was abut twelve when I had a fascination for art and painting. Once a really good artist had stopped through our small town and gave lessons to the young students in the art lessons at our library. I rember being inthrilled with her talent and soaking in every tip she gave. And then my mother said something along the lines that she (the artist) was greatly gifted, and with a huff the artist declared she did not believe it was about being gifted at all, but sheer will power. Her exact words escape me, but I do remember thinking what a strange, twisted thing it is to imagine such a skill of beauty was the product of practice alone. Though of course gift without work is in vain! But God has put something of this wonder, a gift of understanding, in the hearts of the Creative Mind, a heart of wisdom. Only it is our task to mine it out!

    Oh, dear! I am not sure I am getting my thoughts properly across, Abigail. I hope this comment makes sense! But with reading 'The Mind of the Maker' and this post, I am left with much to contemplate...

  5. You've struck on it, I think, and that is it is instrikable. That something we notice and we love in every great artist's work is intangible in it's beautiful tangibility. It resonates with us so soundly and yet we can't touch on it. (And now I'm tangling my words...)
    The wise-hearted - I like the sound of that. I only hope I may someday join the ranks.

  6. What a way of putting all those feelings that come when we see something we cant imagine could have passed through the hands of a human being. Let alone the head. And I think that is the point, true art comes from the heart. most of the beauties we marvel about aren't just because they were done, but because we see then and there spirit, catches hold of us and draws out our emotions in a way we are incapable of doing by choice alone. This was an astounding post, even in its Blah Blah way as you put it.
    I get what you mean, and I cant even begin to say how happy I am that Im not the only one struck with fits of inadequacy. We have a tendency to compare ourselves to something we esteem higher then ourselves, and I think its good, because somehow we are capable of picking up in that beauty even when untrained conventionally, it just means there is another level to be attained.
    But I feel I should say that I believe that the artisans, were so good because there gift was in a surrender to God, and when we surrender it to Him and keep in mind Him as we write, whatever we write, he beautifies it more than we can ever hope for. This should easily set is apart. even from those who are blessed with astounding talent.
    I always enjoy your posts
    Blessings ~ Rachel Hope


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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