Pro 8: In this chapter wisdom is personified. In Pro 1:20-33
wisdom proclaims her value, and in Pro 3:19-26 wisdom is the agent, or means, of
creation. "Wisdom" here is not a separate deity -- the Jews would have been
horrified by such an idea! -- but it is the personification of the attribute of
wisdom displayed by God: what GVG calls "the beautiful, faithful, eternal
companion and handmaid of God". Others have equated wisdom in this chapter with
Jesus Christ, but -- as the Bible teaches -- he did not pre-exist his conception
and birth [See Lesson, Christ, preexistence of?]. Also, the fact that Wisdom is
consistently personified as a woman and not a man is a secondary, though
telling, argument against applying this to Christ.
It may be safer to say that the personification of "Wisdom" in
Pro 8 ANTICIPATES the first advent of Jesus Christ: Jesus' claims included
wisdom (Mat 12:42) and a unique knowledge of God (Mat 11:25-27). He even
personified wisdom in a way that was similar to Proverbs (Mat 11:19). Paul saw
the fulfillment of wisdom in Christ (Col 1:15-20; 2:3) and affirmed that Christ
became our wisdom in the crucifixion (1Co 1:24,30). So this personification in
Proverbs provides a solid foundation for the similar, and more concrete,
revelation of wisdom in Christ.
Pro 8 unfolds in three cycles:  After an introduction (vv
1-3), wisdom makes an invitation (vv 4,5) and explains that she is noble, just,
and true (vv 6-9);  she then makes another invitation (10) and explains that
she is valuable (vv 11-21); and finally,  she tells how she preceded and
delights in creation (vv 22-31) before concluding with the third invitation (vv
In Pro 8, "Lady Wisdom" desires to be every person's guide (vv
1-5; cf Gal 5:18,22,23). She is morality's partner (vv 6-13), the key to success
(vv 14-21), the guiding principle of creation (vv 22-31), and the one essential
necessity of life (vv 32-36).
"Pro 8 is mind-boggling in view of the claims that Woman
Wisdom makes. It is helpful to review these points. First we notice that she
addresses all humankind, not just the naive or fools. The personification begins
with relatively modest claims, those that are associated with wisdom in earlier
chapters: truth, justice, value exceeding gold, etc. But there is an escalation
when Wisdom becomes, as it were, a social worker, and is associated with
kingship and universal rule, establishing justice and right by which rulers are
to operate [vv 14-16]. The love relationship she has with her followers is a
guarantee of prosperity, provided they walk in her ways [vv 17-21]. Then, in the
astounding passage in vv 22–31, she affirms her origins from God, and from
of old before creation. The description of creation in vv 25–29 is not
really important here; there is no concentration on creation itself, which
merely serves to underscore Wisdom's preexistence. The climax comes in vv 30,31
where her relationship to God and to human beings is affirmed. Whether as
crafts(wo)man (preferable, in my view), or as child, she brings delight to the
LORD, playing before God and finding delight among human beings. That is a tall
order, indeed... I see her as 'the revelation of God... She is the divine
summons issued in and through creation, sounding through the vast realm of the
created world and heard on the level of human experience. Thus she carries out
her function with human beings (Pro 8:31)' (RE Murphy, 'Wisdom and Creation').
By human experience I mean to emphasize that this chapter finds its proper place
within the book of Proverbs. Wisdom also points forward to the chapters that
follow, since they contain the deposit of the experience of God and humans which
flourished in Israel's daily life" (WBC).
DOES NOT WISDOM CALL OUT? DOES NOT UNDERSTANDING RAISE HER
VOICE?: She loudly proclaims (v 3) -- she does not whisper secretly,
seductively, and lasciviously like the harlot Folly did (Pro 7:13-21). She
speaks openly, in the daytime -- not in the shadows of the night (ct Pro 7:5,9).
Likewise, Jesus -- who embodied the wisdom of God -- "on the last and greatest
day of the Feast... stood and cried out in a loud voice" (Joh 7:37).
"We have found the 'Truth': the saving Gospel of the Kingdom
of God and the things concerning the Name of Jesus Christ. That is fine. That is
indeed vital (and let us make sure we always HAVE it, and not just HAD it. The
mind is leaky. We must keep refreshing and replenishing it). But, have we found
THE truth? Have we 'gone on to perfection' -- to completion? -- right to the
heart and core of the matter? 'He that loseth his life shall save it'... 'A man
must forsake all he has to be my disciple.' Have we 'lost' our (natural) life,
and forsaken all of it? -- total submission, total self-emptying, total
yielding, total humility, total devotion, total service, total love, TOTAL
'peace with God'? This is what God gently, reasonably, lovingly asks of us. Do
we love Him enough to give it? This is what 'love' means. Is it worth it? Is
eternity worth that much effort and application? Can we give less than all, and
safely presume on God's 'mercy' -- or that hopefully He will not notice that we
are selfishly 'keeping back part of the price'? Human beings are congenital
gamblers: that is part of the ingrained 'works of the flesh'. But are not the
stakes here a little too high, the risks a little too great? Doth not wisdom cry
a warning?" (GVG).
"The call of wisdom can surely be heard in the ordered wonders
of the universe in which we live. Man's cheerful acceptance of the earth as his
home proclaims that in his heart he recognises that there is a Creator. Would he
feel comfortable on a ship with no captain? A hundred thousand tons of metal and
wood driving through unknown seas, at thirty miles an hour and no one in
control? How then should he feel when he realises that he is all through life on
a vessel weighing millions of tons and going through space at sixty thousand
miles an hour? Of course men believe that someone is in control. The stability
of the earth and its long continuance, the facts of human consciousness and
human ideals, the wonders of chemistry and the wonders of life all combine to
prove that there is a mind far above that of man. Human intelligence is just
sufficient to contemplate these things and to make some response. Wisdom is thus
calling to the sons of men in the streets, in the broad places and at the
entering in of the gate" (PrPr 132).
ON THE HEIGHTS ALONG THE WAY, WHERE THE PATHS MEET, SHE
TAKES HER STAND: "Heights" is the word "rosh" ("head"), which refers to the
highest area or most important place in the elevated area (cp Pro 1:20,21). The
contrast with Pro 7:10-13 is striking. There the wayward woman lurked at the
corners in the street at night; here "Wisdom" is in the open places in view of
WHERE THE PATHS MEET: That is, at the most important
intersection of the city. "A chapter which is to soar beyond time and space,
opens at street level" (Kidner); in other words, the wisdom is presented in the
forum, or "agora", in the marketplace -- before all mankind, and for all mankind
to grasp, as they go about their daily tasks.
Here and in v 3, the public appeal of "Lady Wisdom" is not
just in contrast to the "back-stairs" appeal of the harlot (Pro 7), but it is
also in contrast to the quiet, one-on-one (or two, or three) teaching of the
father to his "son" or "sons" or "children" -- as seen earlier in Proverbs. The
public appeal of Wisdom also anticipates the similarly public appeals of Jesus
Christ: "I have spoken openly to the world... I always taught in synagogues or
at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret" (Joh
BESIDE THE GATES LEADING INTO THE CITY, AT THE
ENTRANCES: Besides the main intersection of the city (v 2) she also may be
found at the main gates, or entrances, of the city.
SHE CRIES ALOUD: The cry is a very loud ringing cry
that could not be missed. The term "ranan" means "to give a ringing cry". It is
often only a shrill sound that might come with a victory in battle, but its use
in the psalms for praise shows that it also can have clear verbal content, as it
does here. For "Wisdom" to stand in the street and give such a ringing cry would
mean that it could be heard by all. It was a public proclamation.
TO YOU, O MEN, I CALL OUT; I RAISE MY VOICE TO ALL
MANKIND: "Men" is "ishim", the "great" men, of high social order, whereas
"all mankind" is "benim adam" -- the "sons of Adam", all the rest, even those of
low degree. The words of wisdom are for all men, great and small, rich and poor
-- for that matter, Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free too (Gal
3:28). "The Lord... is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but
EVERYONE to come to repentance" (2Pe 3:9).
YOU WHO ARE SIMPLE, GAIN PRUDENCE; YOU WHO ARE FOOLISH,
GAIN UNDERSTANDING: "Gain" is "biyn": to separate mentally, to distinguish
or discern. The call is for the simple not just to know what "prudence" and
"understanding" are, but to make them their own, and to see how vastly they
exceed imprudence and folly.
UNDERSTANDING: Literally, "heart".
Thus wisdom is available everywhere (vv 2,3) and to anyone (v
4). Nor does it take a superior intellect to be wise in the Biblical sense (v 5;
cp Pro 1:22). Anyone who can realize his need is not so much a fool that he
cannot profit by wisdom.
And who is a "fool", Biblically speaking? "(1) He is a fool
who buys the wealth of this world with the riches of heaven. Does not the soul
far outvalue the body? Is not eternity greater than time? (2) He is a fool who
supposes he can freely indulge in sin, and still keep it under his control. Men
say they will go so far in the direction of this or that sin, and then stop
short. As well might a man allow his train of loaded wagons to run down a steep
declivity, until half the descent was made, before he applied the brakes. Dr
Johnson says, 'The diminutive chains of habit are generally too small to be felt
till they are too strong to be broken.' (3) He is a fool who, having once
received injury, recklessly exposes himself to it a second time. In other words,
he is a fool who learns nothing from his own folly. The wise man is a wary man;
and having received injury in any direction once, he keeps clear of that coast
ever after. 'Experience,' one has said, 'is one of the most eloquent of
preachers; but she never has a large congregation.' (4) He is a fool who waits
till to-morrow before he becomes religious. What has any one to do with
to-morrow? Does he know that he will ever see it? Men may trifle with their
religious opportunities until they are lost beyond recall. Until you enter fully
and lovingly into the service of God you are living like fools, because
unnecessarily imperilling your highest and most urgent interests -- because you
are living at enmity with Him in whose favour is everlasting life, and in whose
displeasure is everlasting death" (Forrest, BI).
LISTEN, FOR I HAVE WORTHY THINGS TO SAY; I OPEN MY LIPS TO
SPEAK WHAT IS RIGHT: "Worthy" is "nagiyd": noble, princely, and hence
honorable or excellent.
MY MOUTH SPEAKS WHAT IS TRUE: "The word 'truth' ['what
is true': NIV] ('emet') is derived from the verbal root 'aman' which means 'to
support'. There are a number of derived nouns that have the sense of reliability
-- 'pillars', 'master craftsman', 'nurse', 'guardian.' Modifiers related to this
group of words includes things like 'faithful', 'surely', 'truly' ('Amen').. In
the derived stems the verb develops various nuances... of 'reliable, faithful,
sure, steadfast'... and 'believe' (ie, consider something dependable). The noun
'truth' means what is reliable or dependable, firm or sure" (NETn). Cp generally
the words of Moses in Deu 32:4,5.
FOR MY LIPS DETEST WICKEDNESS: Wisdom and godliness are
practically synonymous: this was the point of Pro 1:7 ("The fear of the LORD is
the beginning of knowledge"). There is a monumentally practical aspect to
knowledge, that is, divine knowledge: to KNOW is also to appreciate that there
is nothing else but to LOVE and to DO the will of God, and therefore no
alternative but to DETEST and TURN FROM that which is contrary to Him!
ALL THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH ARE JUST: "Tsedek" --
NONE OF THEM IS CROOKED OR PERVERSE: "Crooked"
("patal") means "to twist", or "to wrestle" (the twist oneself or others). It
was used in Gen 30:8 for the naming of Naphtali, with the motivation for the
name from this verb: "with great struggling." Here it will describe speech that
is twisted. It is a synonym for the last word ("iqqesh"), which also means
"twisted, crooked, or perverse".
TO THE DISCERNING ALL OF THEM ARE RIGHT: "Right" is
"nakoach" -- which means "in front" ("up front" in modern vernacular), open,
clear, transparent, in plain view, or straightforward. The AV's "plain" is very
good here, provided it be understood that "plain" means simple, easy, and
intelligible -- rather than unadorned and unlovely.
THEY ARE FAULTLESS TO THOSE WHO HAVE KNOWLEDGE:
"Faultless" is "yashar", straight, upright, and by extension
The conclusion here is that wisdom has a cumulative effect:
the person who already has walked down wisdom's path for a distance can
appreciate the moral rightness of wisdom better than someone who has not. "Our
Lord said, 'If any man will do his (God's) will, he shall know of the doctrine,
whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself' (John 7:17), confirming the
words, 'The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him' (Psa 25:14)"
(Waddoup). (Cp the lesson of the little parable in Pro 4:18: for such a person,
the further he walks along the path, the more brightly the light shines upon
Vv 10,11: "The things that are most valuable to us should be
the things that we spend the most time, energy and resources to attain. To many
people money and riches are the most valuable, so they spend hours working and
investing to increase their wealth. To others, lifestyle is important, so all
their resources go into their houses, cars, boats and the things they
"Here we read of the worth of wisdom. Its value far exceeds
all the temporary things that could fill our lives. Wisdom says, 'Choose my
instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is
more precious than rubies and nothing you desire can compare with her' (Pro
8:10,11). If it is the case that wisdom is more precious than all the things we
usually aim for, then it stands to reason that we should spend more of our time,
energy and resources getting wisdom instead of getting all the things that are
of much less value. We also learn that 'the fear of the LORD is the beginning of
wisdom' (Pro 9:10). So let us from now on set our priorities in the right order.
Let us first put our resources -- our time, energy and possessions -- into what
is really important. Let's get to know the fear of the LORD and get
"Wisdom is worth much more" (RP).
CHOOSE MY INSTRUCTION INSTEAD OF SILVER...: The
comparison to precious objects such as gold and silver is a frequent one (eg,
Pro 2:4; 3:14,15; 16:16), but "Choose!" is a command, not merely a comparison.
INSTRUCTION: Hebrew "muwcar". Instruction that trains
with discipline (Pro 1:2).
KNOWLEDGE RATHER THAN CHOICE GOLD: "Tried", or refined
or purified gold (cp 1Pe 1:7).
FOR WISDOM IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN RUBIES, AND NOTHING YOU
DESIRE CAN COMPARE WITH HER: Vv 10, 11 emphasize that there are two distinct
kinds of "wealth" -- there is the "wealth" of silver and gold and precious
stones, which is temporal, fleeting, and of no consequence in the eyes of God.
And there is the "wealth" of wisdom and all spiritual things, which has the only
real value. "For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2Co
4:18). It is this last, and true, "wealth" that Paul has in mind when he tells
the Corinthians, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though
he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty
might become rich" (2Co 8:9). And of course Jesus himself taught, "Do not store
up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where
thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mat
RUBIES: See Pro 3:15n.
"He is a foolish man who despises gold and rubies and pearls
and choice silver: he is more foolish still who thinks they can buy him anything
that he can take into eternity with him. In death all these things leave the
possessor. That is a mournful reality. May not a man take the family jewels with
him? No, not one. Must he go into the other world empty-handed. Yes,
empty-handed: he brought nothing into this world, and it is certain he can carry
nothing out [cf Job 1:21]" (Parker, BI).
Now, in this verse, "Wisdom" begins to speak for
I, WISDOM, DWELL TOGETHER WITH PRUDENCE: Wisdom, now
speaking for herself, claims to dwell or live with Prudence, or practical
wisdom. She is the constant companion of Prudence; the two are never separated.
PRUDENCE: Heb "ormah": "shrewdness", ie, the right use
of knowledge in special cases (cp Pro 1:4). Some would suggest that "prudence"
has nothing to do with "faith", and thus little or nothing to do with Biblical
"wisdom" -- but of course it all depends on how one define's his terms, and
where the parameters are. Carter discusses true prudence from a Biblical
perspective: "Many men are prudent who are not wise -- that is to say, they are
superficially cautious, sagacious, calculating; but they are never wise. True
wisdom is... the innermost life and reality, and it expresses itself in the
large prudence which sees more points than can be seen by mere cleverness. He
that seeketh his life shall lose it; he that will throw away his life for
Christ's sake shall find it [Mat 10:39; 16:25], and shall thus prove himself in
the long run to be the truly prudent man. Beware of the prudence that is as a
skeleton... Sometimes wisdom will drive a man to do apparently foolish things --
at least, things that cannot be understood by those who live in rectangles, two
inches by one and a half. But 'Wisdom is justified of her children' [Mat 11:39];
she calmly abides the issue of the third day, and raised again, she vindicates
her origin and declares her destiny" (BI).
I POSSESS KNOWLEDGE AND DISCRETION: True wisdom is
resourceful and discreet. It does not need to "blow its own horn". As the wise
politician said, "One can accomplish just about anything, provided he is willing
to let others take the credit."
TO FEAR THE LORD IS TO HATE EVIL: "The verb translated
'hate' ['sane' '] has the basic idea of rejecting something spontaneously. For
example, 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated' (Mal 1:2,3). It frequently
enough has the idea of disliking or loathing as English does, but almost always
with an aspect of rejection. To hate evil is not only to dislike it, but to
reject it and have nothing to do with it" (NETn).
I HATE PRIDE AND ARROGANCE: Since both "pride" and
"arrogance" are from the same basic root, this phrase could be translated
EVIL BEHAVIOR AND PERVERSE SPEECH: This phrase is
all-inclusive, describing sins of conduct as well as sins of speech.
EVIL BEHAVOIOR: "Lady Wisdom hates an evil lifestyle,
which is sinful living with wicked habits. We are to avoid ungodly men and their
deeds (Psa 1:1; 5:4,5; 101:3-8; 1Jo 2:16). We are to love God's directions for
each area of our lives and hate every other idea (Psa 119:128). Our blessed King
Jesus was honored greatly for hating evil (Psa 45:7; Heb 1:9)" (LGBT).
PERVERSE SPEECH: "Lady Wisdom hates a [perverse] mouth,
which is obnoxious, and wicked speech. Our words should feed and help others
(Pro 10:21; 15:4; 16:24). God hates a [perverse] and lying tongue (Pro 4:24;
6:12,17; 10:31; 12:19; 21:6). Solomon dedicated many proverbs to sound speech,
as it is a common area of sin (Pro 10:19; 12:18; 15:1,2,28; 17:27,28)"
COUNSEL AND SOUND JUDGMENT ARE MINE; I HAVE UNDERSTANDING
AND POWER: This is reminiscent of Job 12:13: "To God belong wisdom and
power; counsel and understanding are his"; and also of Isa 11:2, where these
same characteristics belong, by the power of the Spirit, to the Messiah (who is
of course the greatest King and Ruler!).
I HAVE UNDERSTANDING: Literally, as the AV, "I AM
Understanding". As though Wisdom is saying, 'Of course I am Wisdom; you already
know that; but LOOK!' -- and, snatching away her disguise, to reveal herself
more fully -- 'See! I am Understanding also!'
AND POWER: The last named quality, "power", begins the
transition to what might be called the practical aspects of wisdom -- involving
kings and rulers (vv 15,16).
BY ME KINGS REIGN AND RULERS MAKE LAWS THAT ARE JUST:
"This claim resonates with the role of wisdom in the 'gift' to Solomon in 1Ki
3:9. In view of the alleged courtly associations of the wisdom movement
(certainly not to be denied in view of Pro 25:1 and also the background of Pro
25–29), it is striking that only here in Pro 1–9 are wisdom and
royalty intimately associated" (WBC).
LAWS THAT ARE JUST: "This verb 'chaqaq' is related to
the noun 'khoq', which is a 'statute; decree.' The verb is defined as 'to cut
in; to inscribe; to decree' (BDB 349). The point the verse is making is that
when these potentates decree righteousness, it is by wisdom. History records all
too often that these rulers acted as fools and opposed righteousness (cf Psa
2:1–3). But people in power need wisdom to govern the earth (eg, Isa
11:1–4 which predicts how Messiah will use wisdom to do this very
thing)... In v 15... 'kings' and 'reign' [are] from the same root, and then in v
16... both 'princes' and 'rule' ['govern': NIV] [are] cognate. The repetition of
sounds and meanings strengthens the statements" (NETn).
"Wisdom teaches kings the importance of many things: punishing
the wicked (Pro 20:8,26), mercy and truth (Pro 20:28), faithfully judging the
poor (Pro 29:14; 31:8,9; 24:11,12), good men with gracious speech (Pro 14:35;
16:13; 22:11), and searching out matters (Pro 25:2). And wisdom teaches kings to
avoid many things: gifts of bribery (Pro 29:4), wine and strong drink (Pro
31:4,5), gluttony (Ecc 10:16,17), lies (Pro 17:7; 29:12), and wicked counsellors
(Pro 25:5)" (LGBT).
BY ME PRINCES GOVERN, AND ALL NOBLES WHO RULE ON EARTH:
The last phrase is based on the LXX reading, but "on earth" is not in the MT --
which has instead "judges of righteousness"; hence, the NIV margin has "nobles
-- all righteous rulers". The MT appears to make perfect sense here.
On vv 15,16, Kelly comments: "This very language aptly
discriminates the difference between the OT, and the NT, that is the entirely
new state of things under the gospel as compared with the law. For there is
instruction in the NT only for subjection to authority, in the OT for those who
wield it also. The Christian waits to reign with Christ, content meanwhile to
suffer with him and for him. No exhortation, no principle, no fact supposes him
exercising worldly power where Christ was rejected, till he appears to judge the
world. It was quite another condition before the princes of this age crucified
the Lord of glory. But it is now a time of great and growing unbelief, and it is
a hard trial for most believers to forego present power and honor."
Vv 17-21: Wisdom rewards those who love her. The emphasis of
this section is that wisdom is accessible only to those who seek it.
I LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE ME: In contrast to the word for
"hate" (v 13) -- which includes the idea of rejecting -- the verb "love" has
within itself the idea of choosing (cp Joh 14:21).
AND THOSE WHO SEEK ME FIND ME: Those who seek me
"early" (AV: the word literally means "at dawn, or very early in the morning"),
or -- more to the point here -- "earnestly" or "diligently" will find me (cp Mat
7:7)! So in this phrase loving and seeking point up the means of finding wisdom.
Similarly, Mary Magdalene loved, and sought (very early in the morning, and
diligently!), and then found her Lord and Master (Joh 20:1). Cp also Job 8:5-7;
Isa 26:9; 55:6; Hos 5:15; Mat 7:7; 2Co 6:2.
WITH ME ARE RICHES AND HONOR, ENDURING WEALTH AND
PROSPERITY: See Psa 39:6; Ecc 5:14-16; Mat 6:19,20; and Pro 31:16.
MY FRUIT IS BETTER THAN FINE GOLD; WHAT I YIELD SURPASSES
CHOICE SILVER: "Yield", or "produce", matches with "fruit", or "harvest".
The combination of these two words suggest that wisdom is something which is
sown, and then harvested. In other words, it is the result of a planting,
growing, and developmental process. This reminds us that Wisdom is elsewhere
pictured as a "tree of life" (Pro 3:13-18n; cp Rev 2:7; 22:2).
I WALK IN THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, ALONG THE PATHS OF
JUSTICE: The very frequent metaphor of the path, or road, or way, turns up
again. In contrast to Pro 1:15; 2:13–15; 4:14,15 -- which describe paths
of the wicked -- the figure changes slightly; here Wisdom herself, and not the
youth, is traveling the path of justice.
But in doing so, she is leading others, her devotees who
follow her: "How reassuring are Wisdom's words in v 20: 'I lead in the way of
righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment'... 'in the midst of' means
'right down the middle, turning neither to left or right'. As Isaiah said: 'And
thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in
it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left' (Isa 30:21).
Wisdom leads us. Now she will lead us from earthly to heavenly things!"
(Waddoup). And thus the transition to vv 22-31...
ALONG THE PATHS: Literally, "in the midst of the paths"
(as the AV), straying not to either side (Pro 4:27). "In this [modern, or
western] country, if you walk in the middle of the street in the town, or in the
middle of the road in the country, you are exposed to danger from horses and
vehicles, for which that part of the road was reserved, and therefore side-paths
and pavements have been provided, where you can take refuge from the traffic. It
is different in the East. There the roads are so badly made, and so little
frequented, that you are always safest in the middle. There is a rock, perhaps,
on this side, and a precipice or a ditch on that, and the edges of the road are
always so rugged and uneven that only the well-worn track in the middle is
available for easy travelling. And from this condition of Eastern roads has
arisen the moral lesson that the middle of the path of conduct is the safest and
the best. The sentiment may be exemplified in everything moral and religious.
The Greeks of old always spoke of the golden mean between two extremes, and were
fond of proving that truth and safety always lay in the middle. The wise man
speaks of the paths of judgment. These paths are oft either side of the way of
righteousness, which is the middle; and they are called paths of judgment
because, if you stray into them off the strait and narrow way of righteousness,
you will meet with dangers and evils that will assuredly punish you. The virtues
that yield the blessings of life are in the middle, between the vices that wreck
and blight your life. A little too much on the one side or the other makes all
the difference in the world; and so close to each other do the evils you have to
avoid come, that narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that
find it [Mat 7:14]. The side-path may, therefore, be smooth and pleasant, but it
leads to danger. The middle of the road may be rough and difficult, but it is
safe -- the way of righteousness, between the paths of judgment" (Macmillan,
As the old saying goes, rather ruefully: "The strait and
narrow gets most of its wear on the edges!"
BESTOWING WEALTH ON THOSE WHO LOVE ME AND MAKING THEIR
TREASURIES FULL: "Wealth" is "yesh", translated "substance" in the AV:
Waddoup points out that " 'substance' is literally that which is real; there is
nothing airy-fairy about it." He goes on also to point out that "bestowing"
("inherit" in the AV) speaks of that "inheritance incorruptible, that fadeth not
away" [1Pe 1:4].
"Now," says WBC, "a certain intensification in Wisdom's speech
can be detected. From the present, which manifests Wisdom's generosity, she now
turns to the past, which will highlight her origins from God before creation."
THE LORD BROUGHT ME FORTH AS THE FIRST OF HIS WORKS, BEFORE
HIS DEEDS OF OLD: This section was anticipated by Pro 3:19,20: "By wisdom
the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in
place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the
dew." Now it is to be greatly amplified.
Waddoup comments: "What tremendous thoughts now fall around
us! 'I, Wisdom, was God's then, and I am God's still!' We stand humbly before
the majesty, wondering in ourselves what this should mean... Wisdom was God's,
and came forth from Him, and the tremendous lesson we are being taught in
Proverbs is this: that Wisdom which imposes on man the moral Law, is the same by
which the worlds were made. God said, and it was done! Solomon anticipates
John's Gospel opening, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God' [Joh 1:1,2]."
And thus the Bible draws for us an unbroken line from the earth on which we
stand, and the heavens at which we marvel, TO the glorious Law of God, in which
we (should) delight! (See how this same connection is worked out, dramatically
and effectively, in Psa 19: see notes there.)
BROUGHT ME FORTH: "There are two roots 'qanah' in
Hebrew, one meaning 'to possess', and the other meaning 'to create'. The older
translations did not know of the second root, but suspected in certain places
that a meaning like that was necessary (eg, Gen 4:1; 14:19; Deu 32:6). Ugaritic
confirmed that it was indeed another root" (NEtn). Instead of "possessed" (AV),
this new translation is attested in Ugaritic with the meaning "to create, bring
forth" (cp Gen 4:1, re birth of Cain; Gen 14:19,22). Pro 8:22 reads in the KJV:
"The LORD POSSESSED me [Wisdom] in the beginning of his way, before his works of
old" -- this uses the old meaning of 'qanith' (to get, or acquire), and was
adamantly supported and expounded by earlier commentators. But that translation
surely misses the point; the context of Pro 8 is the Creation! The RSV,
following the more recent scholarship, translates the same passage: "The LORD
CREATED ME at the beginning of his work"; and the NIV translates: "The LORD
BROUGHT ME FORTH as the first of his works." And now 'Wisdom' is seen, rightly,
as the first of Yahweh's "creations"!
AS THE FIRST OF HIS WORKS: 'As the "reshith" of His
ways, or works"; cp sw Pro 1:7; 3:9; 4:7. The word can mean either "first" in
point of time, or "most important" overall. Here it may signify "firstborn"
particularly -- bearing in mind that, paradoxically, the "firstborn" in Bible
terms was not necessarily the one "born FIRST", but could (and often did) mean a
younger one elevated to a leading role.
I WAS APPOINTED: The verb "nissakhti" is not a common
word; it occurs here and in Psa 2:6 for the coronation of the king. It means
"installed, set." WBC points out, however, that it may be derived from "cakak"
in Psa 139:13: "For you created ['qanah': cp v 22 here] my inmost being: you
knit me together ['cakak'] in my mother's womb." If so, this reinforces the
"birth" analogy, that goes along with the personification of "Wisdom".
FROM ETERNITY, FROM THE BEGINNING, BEFORE THE WORLD
BEGAN: "Eternity" = "olahm" -- the hidden age, the age to come. "Beginning"
= "rosh", the head, first, or primary time. "World" = "eretz", the earth, or
Vv 24-31: The summary statements just given (vv 22,23) are now
developed in a lengthy allegory describing "Wisdom" as the witness, and even the
agent and "crafts(wo)man" (v 30) of all God's creation. The order of creation
here (the earth in vv 24-26, and the heavens in vv 27-29) agrees with the order
of events in Genesis.
And, most profoundly, the wisdom exemplified in God's literal,
natural creation is a glorious pattern, and prophecy, and allegory, of the
wisdom -- to be developed most perfectly in His Son -- in His "New (spiritual)
Creation", the primary subject of the New Testament: "He is the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn over all creation [this, of course, is the NEW
"creation"]. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all
things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all
things hold together" (Col 1:15-17). For now, v 18, especially, explains how
this is brought about: "And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the
beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might
have the supremacy" (Col 1:18).
WHEN THERE WERE NO OCEANS: This verse singles out
"watery deeps" (Heb "tehomot") in its allusion to creation because the word in
Gen 1:2 ("the deep": NIV) points to the condition of the world at the very
beginning. It was at that time that the earth was "formless and void", and
"darkness was over the surface of 'tehomot'." Everything would have appeared
chaotic, without rhyme or reason, so to speak. But it was not really true --
because, even then, "Wisdom" was there, along with God!
I WAS GIVEN BIRTH: The verb is "chul", used of the
travail of women in childbirth, and rightly translated "I was given birth." The
KJV translates it "brought forth" -- not in the sense of being presented, but in
being "begotten, given birth to." Here is the strongest support for the
translation of "qanah" as "created" (rather than "possessed": KJV) in v 22. Of
course, the verb is not literal; it continues the perspective of "Wisdom's"
WHEN THERE WERE NO SPRINGS ABOUNDING WITH WATER:
Literally, "heavy with water". Probably referring to the "springs" in the depths
of the earth, opened up during the Flood (Gen 7:11). Cp Job 38:16: "Have you
journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the
"The LORD Jehovah created all water (Gen 1:1-8). The Word of
God often presents Him as the Creator of the heavens, the earth, the sea, and
all that in them is (Ex 20:11; Psa 146:6; Jon 1:9; Acts 4:24; 14:15; Rev 10:6;
14:7). He is the Ruler of the seas and uses them to accomplish His holy purposes
(Psa 77:19; Isa 43:16; Amo 5:8; 9:6; Jon 1:4).
"Do you feel pressure on your ears at the deep end of a
swimming pool –- 10 feet from the surface? Have you tried scuba diving and
felt the pressure at 100 feet? The submarines of World War II could not survive
500 feet; and modern nuclear submarines are not made to operate below 1500 feet.
Yet the Mariana Trench in the Pacific is 35,800 feet deep! A mile deeper than
Mount Everest is high!...
"Consider the Asian tsunami of 2004. An undersea earthquake of
magnitude 9.0 in the Indian Ocean sent a sea surge one to two feet high racing
in all directions at 600 mph! When it reached shore it slowed to about 35 mph,
but it grew in height to as much as 50 feet! A wall of water! It killed as far
away as Port Elizabeth in South Africa, 5000 miles from the epicenter! Over
225,000 lost their lives, and 2,000,000 were made homeless" (LGBT). Such is the
power of God as manifested in the seas!
BEFORE THE MOUNTAINS WERE SETTLED IN PLACE, BEFORE THE
HILLS, I WAS GIVEN BIRTH: The LORD God "formed the mountains by [His] power,
having armed [Himself] with strength" (Psa 65:6). They are called "the ancient
mountains and... the everlasting hills" (Deu 33:15) because, presumably, they
existed from before the beginning of our creation. And so the Psalmist praises
God with these words: "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the
earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God" (Psa
BEFORE HE MADE THE EARTH: Hebrew "eretz".
OR ITS FIELDS: "Chuwts": that which is outside, ie of
the cities, or of the inhabited areas. "The extremities of the earth, the two
poles of it; the uninhabitable parts of the earth" (Gill).
OR ANY OF THE DUST OF THE WORLD: "Or the beginning (Heb
'rosh') of the dust of the habitable world (Heb 'tebel')." The "dust of the
world" calls to mind the words of Isaiah: "Who has measured the waters in the
hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who
has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the
scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind [ Or Spirit; or
spirit ] of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD
consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that
taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations
are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs
the islands as though they were fine dust" (Isa 40:12-15).
I WAS THERE WHEN HE SET THE HEAVENS IN PLACE, WHEN HE
MARKED OUT THE HORIZON ON THE FACE OF THE DEEP: The verb translated "marked
out" (Hebrew "chaqaq") signifies "to mark, to engrave, or to carve out" -- as
though the Almighty took a sharp pen or engraving tool, and drew across the face
of the whole world: 'Here is where the horizon will be!' Such a figure gives an
picture of the awesome scale of His handiwork.
The KJV is interesting here: "When he set a compass upon the
face of the depth." The word is said to mean the vault of heaven (cp the first
phrase: "when He set the heavens in place"), conceived of as resting on the
ocean which surrounds the earth. Thus in Isa 40:22 (KJV) we read, "It is he that
sitteth above the circle (chug) of the earth", ie, the vault of heaven that
encircles the earth.
WHEN HE ESTABLISHED THE CLOUDS ABOVE AND FIXED SECURELY THE
FOUNTAINS OF THE DEEP: That is, the subterranean springs and fountains of
water (cp Gen 7:11).
WHEN HE GAVE THE SEA ITS BOUNDARY SO THE WATERS WOULD NOT
OVERSTEP HIS COMMAND: This phrase is very much like the description of God's
creative work in Job 38:8-11: "Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst
forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick
darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I
said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves
AND WHEN HE MARKED OUT THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH:
"Marked out" is sw v 27: see note there. "Where were you when I laid the earth's
foundation? Tell me, if you understand" (Job 38:4).
"The sea covers three [quarters] of the surface of the globe.
Leagues upon leagues of spreading ocean roll round the earth with every tide.
The sea is deep, and hides in its many waters myriads of living creatures. The
fearful storms that sweep its surface tell sad tales of its more than giant
strength. Here we are face to face with a frightful nature power. Yet that power
is under law. God's decree encircles it, and his hand reins it in with
irresistible might. The sea is great, but God is greater; strong, but God is
stronger. As we look at the fearful might and majesty of the ocean, we are
called to bow before the infinitely greater Power who holds its waters in the
hollow of his hand. If we tremble before its terror, we may remember that it is
but the inanimate slave of our Father in heaven" (Pulpit).
Yahweh's control of the waters at creation were a commentary
on the Canaanite "sea chaos" myth: see Lesson, Leviathan -- esp the
THEN I WAS THE CRAFTSMAN AT HIS SIDE: "Critical to the
interpretation of this line is the meaning of 'amon'. Several suggestions have
been made: [particularly] 'master craftsman' [and] 'nursing child'... The image
of a child does fit the previous figure of 'give birth to.' But 'craftsman' has
the most support (LXX, Vulgate, Syriac, Targum... Song 7:1; Jer 52:15...)"
(NETn). But perhaps we need not choose either one to the exclusion of the other.
The whole allegory in which "Wisdom" is personified as a daughter of God, born
to Him at the very beginning of His creative work, suggests the "delight" and
"rejoicing" with her "father" at what He is doing (v 30b,31). (In this we might
compare Job 38:4,7: "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?... while
the morning stars sang together and all the angels [Heb 'the sons of God']
shouted for joy?") But, to carry the allegory further, the little child "Wisdom"
is growing up alongside her Father, and learning and doing along with Him, and
so is instrumental to Him, working to complete the Creation work that He has
begun; thus, she is also the "craftswoman" at His side. And this is ESPECIALLY
true if we go on to consider, not just the literal six-days "creation" at the
beginning of man's time, but the ongoing, never-yet-completed "new creation" --
in this work, "Wisdom" -- as well as the Angels, and particularly Jesus Christ
himself -- are ever at this work! God's most meaningful "creation" continues day
I WAS FILLED WITH DELIGHT DAY AFTER DAY, REJOICING ALWAYS
IN HIS PRESENCE: "Delight" might be read "HIS delight": the delight the
Almighty feels at "Wisdom" His child, and also at the work of creation they are
crafting together. "The relation of this divine Wisdom to God is represented as
being a continual delight and a childlike rejoicing in Him, or as the word
literally means, a 'sporting' in Him" (Maclaren).
REJOICING IN HIS WHOLE WORLD: "Tebel" and "eretz" are
put together in combination -- a way of saying "the whole world", and everything
in it. "Rejoicing" in this whole world suggests Gen 1:31 and the end of the
sixth day of Creation: "God saw ALL that he had made, and it was VERY good" --
not simply "good" as at the end of the first five days!
AND DELIGHTING IN MANKIND: And the sixth day, of
course, saw the creation of man and woman, who were His special delight: Mankind
-- made "in his image" (vv 26,27) -- was the crowning glory of all God's
creative work! And furthermore, "Man, made in the image of God, is the principal
object of creative Wisdom's pleasure; and her joy is fulfilled... When the Word
became flesh, then was the end
and design of creation exhibited, and the infinite love of God
made, as it were, visible and palpable" (Pulpit).
Vv 32-36: An invitation to listen to Wisdom and receive her
NOW THEN, MY SONS, LISTEN TO ME; BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO KEEP
MY WAYS: "Wisdom is to know God, to have fellowship with Him, to work
together with Him, to love Him, and loving Him means doing, and doing means
submitting to His teaching and discipline" (Waddoup).
WHO KEEP MY WAYS: The promised blessing belongs only to
practical hearing, which then sets about to "keep" or "do" the "ways" or "will"
of God. To listen only, and then not to do, is far from the mark here. "Give
ear, and COME to me" (Isa 55:2,3). "Blessed rather are those who hear the word
of God AND OBEY IT" (Luk 11:28). "Whoever has my commands AND OBEYS THEM, he is
the one who loves me" (Joh 14:21,23). "But the man who looks intently into the
perfect law that gives freedom, AND CONTINUES TO DO THIS, not forgetting what he
has heard, but doing it -- he will be blessed in what he does" (Jam
LISTEN TO MY INSTRUCTION AND BE WISE; DO NOT IGNORE IT:
"Instruction" is the Hebrew "muwcar": see Pro 1:2,3,7,8 and notes there. Paul
commended the Bereans, because they "were of more noble character than the
Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined
the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts
DO NOT IGNORE IT: Cp Pro 1:24-31; 21:16; 28:9; Mat
10:14; Heb 2:2,3; 10:28,29; 12:25.
BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO LISTENS TO ME, WATCHING DAILY AT MY
DOORS, WAITING AT MY DOORWAY: If there were no "place" in this world where
we surely knew we could find wisdom, that would indeed be a terrible tragedy;
nevertheless we would surely want to search for it, wherever our journey might
take us. "But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?" (Job
28:12). But our situation is so much easier than that: there IS a "place" where
wisdom may be found: it is in the Scriptures. And therefore we ought to take
ourselves, daily, to the "house" of Wisdom! "The scene portrayed in v 34
suggests the daily attendance of an eager lover at the door of the house of the
beloved. Although the theme of waiting at the doors is not found elsewhere in
Proverbs, it [may be compared to] the description of the lover in Song 2:8-10.
It may also be an anticipation of the 'house' of Wisdom in Pro 9:1, although no
doors are mentioned" (WBC).
WATCHING DAILY AT MY DOORS, WAITING AT MY DOORWAY: This
suggests the priests and Levites, whose duties were exactly as described here --
waiting as servants at the doors of their Master's house (cf, eg, Psa 84:1,4,10;
Exo 29:42; Psa 100:4; 122:2; Luk 1:10,21). "The Bible seldom speaks, and
certainly never its deepest, sweetest words, to those who always read it in a
hurry. Nature can only tell her secrets to such as will sit still in her sacred
temple, till their eyes lose the glare of earthly glory, and their ears are
attuned to her voice. And shall revelation do what nature cannot? Never. The man
who shall win the blessedness of hearing ["Wisdom"] must watch daily at her
gates, and wait at the posts of her doors" (Meyer).
Alternatively, beggars also wait at the doors of those who
might help them -- as does "Lazarus" in the parable of Luk 16:20,21. The
character of other "beggars" in the NT (Mat 20:30; Mar 10:46,47; Luk 18:35-43;
Joh 5:1-7) -- and not to forget the little dogs who sought the crumbs that fell
from the children's table (Mat 15:27; Mar 7:28) -- ought to remind us of our
position relative to the Lord, and to God Himself: we of ourselves have nothing,
and can have nothing, except it be by the good graces of Jesus and his Father.
And so we -- like the poor widow (Luk 18:1-7) -- ought to wait, and beg
unceasingly, at the doors of the Lord.
WAITING AT MY DOORWAY: The man, or woman, who is
"waiting at the doorway" of Wisdom is the one who is early to Bible class, or
Sunday meeting, or Bible seminar, or any other place where the word of God is to
be preached or studied or read. He, or she, is not the one who dawdles in late
-- making a fuss and bother and disturbing others. People who are chronically
late for any and every "appointment" are saying, in effect, 'My time is too
important to wait for ANYONE! Much better that others wait for ME!' How must
this attitude sound in the ears of God? The old Puritan, William Law, wrote in
"A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life": "I take it for granted, that every
Christian, that is in health, is up early in the morning; for it is much more
reasonable to suppose a person up early, because he is a Christian, than because
he is a labourer, or a tradesman, or a servant, or has business that wants him."
And if "up early", then surely "early to Sunday meeting and to Bible class", and
to any other spiritual activity, whether undertaken individually or
FOR WHOEVER FINDS ME FINDS LIFE AND RECEIVES FAVOR FROM THE
LORD: Cp Pro 3:16,18,22; Joh 1:4; 3:36; 17:3. "This verse is important for
several reasons. First, it repeats the theme of life that Wisdom brings to her
followers. It is a distant echo of the formula in v 17b; whoever 'finds' her,
finds life. Again, the verb 'find' retains a certain aura. There is the famous
question in Job 20:12, 'Where is wisdom to be found?' And Pro 18:22 declares
that the one who 'finds' a wife 'finds' a great good. Actually this verb does
not suggest mere search or happenstance; it indicates attainment. The only other
occurrence of 'find life' is in Pro 21:21, where it is the result of pursuing
justice. But wisdom and life are more closely associated than any other concepts
in Proverbs: the goal of wisdom is life, eg, Pro 4:13,23; 10:17. Moreover, v 35
associates this life with the favor of the Lord. V 35b is a kind of rewriting of
Pro 3:13, replacing 'understanding' with the 'favor' of the Lord. The favor is
not merely a divine attitude; it is described as FROM the Lord, objectified as a
BUT WHOEVER FAILS TO FIND ME: The KJV's "sinneth
against me" should really mean, as here, "fails to find me".
HARMS HIMSELF: The word for "harms" ("chamac") stresses
both social and physical harm and violence. Whoever tries to live without wisdom
is inviting all kinds of disaster into his life.
ALL WHO HATE ME LOVE DEATH: "The final verse of Pro 8
expresses a principle that is so simple and obvious and self-evident, and yet so
ignored. If we could only fully receive it as a deep, fixed mainspring of
conviction and action, then anything contrary to the will of God would not only
be repulsive to us but impossible" (GVG). The full meaning of this verse is to
be found in 1Jo 5:12: "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son
of God does not have life."
"If we regard sin as the failure or refusal... to apprehend
and confide in the unseen, then sin is unbelief. But it is always the one and
selfsame thing, the same grim and ghastly thing -- in the godless man of the
world, and the ruffian who outrages law, and the smooth libertine and vulgar
thief; in the respectable atheist who says there is no God, and the brave outlaw
who lives his creed and acts upon his belief. For, while sins differ, sin -- the
evil root out of which all sins proceed -- is the same. Sins are but symptoms;
the disease called sin lies deeper in the soul. And oh! it is an awful thought,
well calculated to humble us all into the very dust, that no matter what our
sins may be -- no matter how decent, how respectable, how secret -- they each
and all proceed out of the same fell disorder as the sins of the veriest wretch
who outrages man's laws and exhausts man's patience by his wickedness!" (Harris,
ALL WHO HATE ME: "Sane' " means, basically, to reject
(v 13n). "Whoever REJECTS the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on
him" (Joh 3:36).
LOVE DEATH: That is, love the ways THAT LEAD TO death:
"Her house is a highway to the grave, LEADING DOWN to the chambers of death"