The Teacher’s Gift

June 22, 2012 - 5:00 am

“What shall we do for our sister
    on the day she is spoken for?
 If she is a wall,
    we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
    we will enclose her with panels of cedar.” — Song of Solomon 8:8b-9

As a child, I remember thinking that teachers must love giving tests. As students, of course, we hated them. We hated studying for them and taking tests was no party either. The teacher, on the other hand got to sit back and relax while we sweated out the exam. Then the teacher rewarded those who had obviously listened in class and punish those who hadn’t. What power!

The first time I taught Hebrew school I discovered that wasn’t exactly true. Making the exams was only slightly less annoying then having to grade them! No – tests were not for the sake of the teachers. They were a gift to the students. It gave them confidence when they succeeded and helped them know what they still had to work on.

In the Song of Solomon, King Solomon speaks metaphorically of a little sister who has not yet developed into a mature woman. What shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for?” The verse continues, “If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar.”

Tradition teaches that this verse is a reference to the patriarch Abraham who began his journey underdeveloped, not yet the spiritual giant that he was to become. God tested him ten times in order to see if he would be a wall or a door. If Abraham were able to withstand the challenges presented before him, then he would become the strong wall upon which the silver tower of the Jewish nation would be built. If, however, he wavered like a door swinging on its hinges, all that would be built on him would be unstable, temporary wooden planks.

Abraham withstood the tests, proving that he was a worthy foundation upon which to build the Jewish nation. More importantly, it was through the testing that he developed into the bastion of strength that he needed to be.

The purpose of challenges in our lives is to forge us into greater people. So embrace your trials and tribulations! It’s the gift of an opportunity for change. Before his ten tests, Abraham had potential for greatness. But it was only after them – and through them – that he became the father of our faith.


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