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Wamba the Fool 

In the epic work, “Ivanhoe”, by Sir Walter Scott, the cast of characters we meet are familiar to most of us, yet as I thought about some of the unfamiliar characters -- while writing “The Black Knight Unveiled” -- I thought about Wamba the fool.

Wamba the fool, and I state it that way because it is his name and title, is not quite the fool you’d expect. True, his job, as it were, was to provide entertainment for the house of Cedric the Saxon, one of the chief Saxon lords of England at this time. The first thing we notice him doing is giving wrong directions to Norman knights seeking shelter at Cedric’s dwelling. This is part of his wisdom, for he knew that although the Normans and Saxons were enemies, Cedric would open his home to anyone in need of shelter, and that, Wamba wished to avoid. Little incidents like this crop up throughout the story, and while Wamba the fool never quite reaches the level one might call a major character; he actually plays a key role on several occasions.

On one such occasion the Lady Rowena, Rebecca, a Jewess, and Wilfred of Ivanhoe are taken captive and held hostage in a Norman castle. This I’ve described in the former writing. Yet it is Wamba the fool who disguises himself as a priest and exchanges places with Ivanhoe. The result is that Ivanhoe, although injured, is able to help in the attack against the castle. This was an act of wisdom.

What we are seeing is that wisdom is not always what it seems to be, or rather there are two kinds of wisdom. There is the wisdom of the deceitful mind of man, and there is the wisdom of a loyal subject. The latter appears foolish to the wisdom of the deceitful mind and he is therefore himself deceived.

How like Christianity and the teachings of Christ this is. For it is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are saved it is the power of God (I Corinthians 1:18). It is the wisdom of the cross that is a stumbling block to the Jews, but foolishness to the Gentiles, or the wise (I Corinthians 1:23). To those who are saved it is both the power and wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:24).

There was a song in the 70s called, “I’m a Fool for Jesus”, that even some Christians took offense with this seemingly irreverent title. If they’d only listened to the rest of the words. “I’m a fool for Jesus, whose fool are you? I’m in love with Jesus. Jesus loves me too.” Are you willing to be a fool for Jesus? Are you willing to be, like Wamba, foolish in the eyes of men, while wise in the counsel of the heart? Do you want the power of God and the wisdom of God to be within you? Then you must be willing to be a fool in the eyes of the world, that the foolishness of the Gospel might reign within you in all its power and wisdom.

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