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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 8

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Verses 1-5

Where and to Whom Wisdom Calls

After the tempting and deceiving strange woman has spoken (Proverbs 7:14-Ecclesiastes :), now “Wisdom” lifts up Her voice (Proverbs 8:1; cf. Proverbs 1:20-Song of Solomon :). Wisdom is represented here again as a Divine Person. Wisdom is Christ. The same goes for “Understanding”. That also is a personification of Christ. Proverbs 8:1-Ecclesiastes : refer to the Lord Jesus. He has called in His life as Wisdom to the people and as the Understanding He lifted up His voice to them. Now that He is in heaven, He does that through His servants.

The interrogative form in which Proverbs 8:1 is written, emphasizes the fact that nobody has a legal excuse to ignore the call of Wisdom or Understanding. The answer to the question cannot be otherwise than confirmative. Nobody can withdraw himself from Her calling voice, for it penetrates to everyone. She does not speak mysteriously, in the darkness, like the adulterous woman (Proverbs 7:7-:), but “calls” loudly and “lifts up Her voice”. ‘To call’ and ‘to lift up one’s voice’ have both the meaning of raising one’s voice. We see in this verse again the Hebrew parallelism, whereby the second line confirms the first line with other words.

The places where She takes Her stand, are chosen carefully. Those are places where She is to be seen by everyone, “on top of the heights”, and where people from all directions are present: “beside the way” and “where the paths meet” (Proverbs 8:2). She also lifts up Her voice “beside the gates, at the opening to the city” (Proverbs 8:3). Those are places where people make transactions and where justice is provided, so a place where many people are. Everyone who enters or leaves the city, hears Her. She also stands “at the entrance of the doors”, whereby we could think of the doors of the temple or of the houses. She is everywhere where people are around.

She calls to the “men” and Her voice is “to the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:4). Everyone is addressed. Wisdom does not only address a select group of intellectuals or religious insiders as if She would only like to speak ‘in a high level’. No, She is available for everyone and does not exclude anyone. It is like with the mission order to proclaim the gospel all over the world, without any exception to reach every individual (cf. Mark 16:15).

All people indeed know what is good or evil. They however do not do the good, but the evil. This is what Wisdom tells to all people. Nobody who has to give account before the judgment seat of Christ could say: ‘I did not know that.’

Wisdom addresses in the midst of all people with a special message to “the naive ones … and fools” (Proverbs 8:5). They are the ones who need Her the most and are the most inclined to ignore Her. In Her grace She says to the naive ones, the stupid ones, that they still may understand “prudence” and know what life is all about. She wants them to repent of their stupidity and allow Her into their lives. Then they will not die.

The same goes for the fools. The fools are already further away from Wisdom than the naive ones. Still Wisdom involves them also in Her call. It is still not too late to understand “wisdom” which means that they may see their foolishness and come to their senses. When they come to their senses, they will realize and gain understanding that they are approaching judgment and that they should repent.

Verses 6-9

What Wisdom Is Calling

Wisdom calls upon all people to listen to Her (Proverbs 8:6). She is there for everyone. There is no special intelligence needed to understand what She is saying, but a willing heart. The content of her words is of the greatest purity and extremely valuable. What She says are “noble things”. Those are excellent things, things of high quality and of a noble, superior character. When She opens her lips, She says “what is right”, which means what is upright and just.

Preceded by a confirmatory “for” She says: “My mouth will utter truth” (Proverbs 8:7). She speaks the truth, which means God’s truth, about all things. When the harlot tells the young man what her bedroom looks like and how it smells (Proverbs 7:16-Esther :), she doesn’t lie about anything, but she speaks the truth about that. However, it is not God’s truth, though. In the light of God’s truth people can know how things are, whether they are good or bad, and how they are related to one another.

The opposite of the truth that Wisdom speaks, is therefore not the untruth or lie, but “wickedness”. “Wickedness” means that God is missing in life; He is not considered. Therefore, speaking wickedness is “an abomination” to the lips of Wisdom.

It is of the greatest importance to listen to the truth from the mouth of Wisdom. “All the utterances” that She speaks “are in righteousness” (Proverbs 8:8). You may absolutely trust each of Her words. Those are words that do justice to every person and every case and they lead to the right way. In Her words nothing contradictory is to be found. There is absolutely “nothing crooked or perverted in them”, nothing that is against the truth of the Scripture or in contrast to the sound teaching.

He who has the right mind, understands that Her words are “straightforward” (Proverbs 8:9). Whoever already walks in the path of wisdom, is more able to understand Her. Straightforwardness is needed to understand wisdom, and not intelligence, scholarship or cleverness. The accuracy of Her words is understood by all who desire to find knowledge.

Verses 10-21

The Value of Wisdom

When someone receives the instruction (or the teaching) from Wisdom, that will make him richer than silver could ever do (Proverbs 8:10; cf. Psalms 119:72). Receiving instruction leads to “knowledge”. The possession of knowledge is to be chosen above “choicest gold”. “Wisdom” goes far beyond the value of “jewels” (Proverbs 8:11). Whatsoever a person may desire of earthly wealth, it is not to be compared with Wisdom and what She delivers. Because of the value that Wisdom has for life, She is more to be desired than anything else.

Her dwelling place, where Wisdom is at home, is with “prudence” (Proverbs 8:12). This implies that She is shrewd, that she has a sharp and clear sight in both men and things and events. She finds the right knowledge to act by “discretion” or thoughtfulness. Discretion is the ability to make good plans and to make thoughtful decisions. She doesn’t allow Herself to be tempted to act hastily, and in that way do the wrong thing. She has the knowledge to know what She is supposed to do because She is thoughtful.

We see these features – prudence and discretion – in perfection with the Lord Jesus. He always knew what to do and when He had to do it. Therefore He paid the temple tax, in order to prevent an unnecessary offense, although He as King was free from paying taxes, from which He also declared His disciples free (Matthew 17:26-Daniel :). As far as man is concerned, He knew what was in him and did not let Himself to be deceived by appearances (John 2:23-Jeremiah :). Here we see some of the many treasures of wisdom and knowledge which are hidden in Him (Colossians 2:3).

Prudence and discretion (Proverbs 8:12) will only work when they are guided by “the fear of the LORD” (Proverbs 8:13). At the same time, the fear of the LORD will lead one to hate “evil”. Evil is to be seen in the temptation of the adulterous woman in the previous chapter. In a more general way, it involves hating arrogance, pride, an evil way and evil words.

“Arrogance” and “pride” are in the nature of man, in the sinful flesh. When we allow these sins to have their way and we do not judge them when they want control over us, they will lead us to “the evil way”. In the evil way are people with “a perverted mouth”, which God hates. Worldly people have a totally different concept of things which we are to hate. They speak about ‘another way of life’, about making ‘another choice’, and force us to tolerate their way of life, which they certainly do not allow us to label them as evil and sinful.

Wisdom is expressed in counsel and wisdom, understanding and power (Proverbs 8:14). They are present with Wisdom. Understanding is not only a feature of Her, but She is Understanding; it is Her Being. What is present with Her, is what characterizes Her. With Her is “counsel and wisdom”. With Her is also “power” to do, whatever She considers necessary according to Her counsel and wisdom. We see here again that Wisdom is Christ. One of His Names is “Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6). The Spirit Who leads Him, is “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:2).

Wisdom is also the source of all earthly power and authority. By Her the kings reign (Proverbs 8:15), not because She allows it, but because She determines it (Romans 13:1-Joshua :). She establishes kings (Daniel 2:21). A king often has the awareness that he can reign rightly or wrongly. Reigning can only happen rightly by Wisdom. He who does not ask Wisdom, will reign wrongly, as we see with the kings of Israel and some kings of Judah.

Wisdom makes monarchs (possibly provincial rulers, lower governments) ordain righteousness. These monarchs prescribe matters and make them to be documented; these are matters that serve the righteousness, the justice of God. Without Wisdom they are not able to prescribe anything that is in line with the justice of God; it is only possible by Wisdom.

As the kings also the monarchs reign by Wisdom (Proverbs 8:16). This also goes for the “nobles”, the prominent men, when they exercise leadership in a benevolent way. Also all those who all over the world exercise their function as a judge, are only able to do that rightly, meaning righteously, in accordance with the justice of God, by Wisdom. From their own they are not able to. How wise and righteous must Wisdom be, when the mightiest men on earth are not able to rule in a righteous and benevolent way without Her.

One will only esteem Wisdom when he loves Her (Proverbs 8:17). Then there will be a relation with Her. So it is about the attitude of the heart towards Wisdom. Where there is love for Wisdom, that love is answered by Her through reciprocal love. Love for Wisdom appears from “seeking” Her “diligently” or seeking Her seriously. That’s what Solomon did (1 Kings 3:9). The promise to him who does that, is that he will find Her, meet Her, possess Her (James 1:5).

Wisdom holds up a rich reward in prospect for those who seek Her for She points out that “riches and honor” are with Her (Proverbs 8:18). In that way She really makes it very attractive to seek Her diligently. In addition She says that also “enduring wealth and righteousness” are with Her. It is clear that it is not about earthly wealth here, for one can suddenly lose that (Proverbs 23:5). It is about treasures in heaven that no one can ever take away (Matthew 6:19-Proverbs :).

Enduring wealth can by definition only mean eternal wealth and not the temporary wealth and therefore will ultimately be enjoyed after this life and not in the life here and now. Also righteousness is something that does not make itself to be translated into terms of gold and silver. You can receive or inherit gold, but not wisdom. Wisdom can only be found by those who seek Her. Also righteousness is a quality which is not related with the earth, but with God. It is a characteristic of God in His dealing with men. In the way He deals with men, He is always in accordance with His own righteous Being.

Those who have found Wisdom, will enjoy Her “fruit” (Proverbs 8:19). Her fruit is what She produces, everything that comes out of Her. Thereby we could think of all blessings that have been given to us by grace, like redemption, atonement, forgiveness, righteousness, sonship, eternal life. We can also think of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), which He gives to everyone who is related with Wisdom. That fruit belongs to Her, but She gives it to everyone who finds Her. That fruit “is better than choicest gold, even pure gold”. It is clear that it is not about earthly prosperity, but about spiritual fruit.

That also applies to Her “yield”. Yield is a concept of the market place, of the trade, a concept that is to be applied spiritually here. What Wisdom delivers of fruit and yield, has no material wealth, for Her fruit and yield are better than what gold and silver deliver in their purest form (cf. Job 28:15). The product of wisdom, that originates from wisdom, is better than what you can gain with gold and silver.

Wisdom walks (Proverbs 8:20). It is the intention that we follow Her like children follow their parents, soldiers follow their general, pupils follow their teacher and sheep follow their shepherd. She leads Her followers “in the way of righteousness”. Those who follow Her, are walking in the same path. She leads them “in the midst of the paths of justice” and in that way avoids a deviation to the right or to the left. The follower of Wisdom is neither formal nor lawless. He stays far away from both extremes. He is not following a dry, dead system, nor some exaggerated, non-binding principles.

The inheritance is the part of all who love Wisdom (Proverbs 8:21). It is not an achievement nor a gift, but a right. It is a given right, because it is related to the Lord Jesus Who has acquired this right. The inheritance is He Himself. He also fills the “treasures” of the hearts of those who possess Him as their inheritance (Luke 6:45). What He puts of Himself in their hearts, is not subject to value-reduction.

Verses 22-31

Wisdom Is an Eternal Person

In the previous verses we heard Wisdom calling. Her call has without exception come to every man. In Proverbs 8:22-Obadiah : Wisdom tells us about Who She is. In these verses we find a beautiful description of the Lord Jesus, for it is all about Him. He, the eternal Son, is Wisdom in Person. If we would ask the question how long God has already been wise, the answer simply is that Wisdom has existed as long as God exists, which is forever. After all, we cannot think that God was not wise for a moment and became wise afterwards at a certain moment. In this way a satisfactory reply is given to the question of how long the Lord Jesus exists.

That appears from what Wisdom firstly says about Herself. She was with God, the LORD, even before anything was visible of God’s works (Proverbs 8:22). Before the foundation of the world Wisdom had been a distinctive Person with God. John, the evangelist, confirms that. He writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). “The Word” is also the Lord Jesus.

It is remarkable that Wisdom begins with speaking about the LORD, the God of the covenant with His people. With Him She is related at the closest. How close, She explains in the next part. The LORD possessed Her “at the beginning of His way”. A wrong and deceptive translation says that the LORD ‘created’ Her instead of ‘possessed’ Her. But Christ, the Son, says as Wisdom that the LORD possessed Him “at the beginning of His way, before His works of old” (cf. Micah 5:2).

When God began His way with the world, when He established His works, He did that through the Son, Who “of old”, which is from eternity, was with Him. Christ is the beginning of God’s creation, which means that He stands at the beginning of all God’s creation works, which He began with the creation and which He also accomplished (Genesis 1:1-Obadiah :; Genesis 2:1-Leviticus :; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-Esther :; Hebrews 1:2). The whole creation came forth from Him. He was with God as Wisdom of all God’s works. All of God’s works have been established by His wisdom. Wisdom Herself has therefore not been created, but has been with God eternally.

Wisdom was established from everlasting (Proverbs 8:23). The establishment or anointment has to do with the destiny for a certain goal. In the Old Testament kings and priests were anointed to be what they were intended to. In the same way Wisdom, Christ, had been intended from the beginning by God to a certain work. Something similar we see with regard to the propitiation work of Christ, to which He “was foreknown before the foundation of the world” as the Lamb (1 Peter 1:20). The work which is told about here, is the work of creation. Wisdom was present “from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth”.

That Wisdom was “brought forth” – it is said twice: in Proverbs 8:24 and in Proverbs 8:25 –, means that Christ started to act as Creator at a certain moment. What is present in God, becomes visible. It is comparable to what happens at the birth of a child. A child that is born, is already present in the mother’s womb, but becomes visible at the birth. Wisdom proves Her pre-existence by starting to act when there is nothing yet, when there “were no depths” and “no springs abounding with water” (Proverbs 8:24). The same goes for “the mountains” and “the hills” (Proverbs 8:25) that also owe their existence to Him Who was (Psalms 90:2).

The emphasis in this whole section lies on the everlasting (pre-)existence of Christ. It is of great importance to hold on to that. Everything that is, has been created by Him. It has therefore a beginning, while He Himself has no beginning. There is no such thing as ‘eternal matter’. Only the triune God is eternal. The Son was there “while He had not yet made the earth and the fields” (Proverbs 8:26). After the depths and heights of both previous verses, it looks like this verse is about the more habitable parts of the earth. With “the dust of the world” the elements are meant of which the earth consists, including the natural resources. All things have a beginning and that beginning is through Him.

The Word was in the beginning, which means that He was there with everything that has a beginning and that He Himself has no beginning. He is the beginning of all things (John 1:1). God is the great Architect, Who has built everything by Wisdom. He has created all things through the Son (1 Corinthians 8:6). All things became by the Word. This portion from Proverbs 8 is explained in the first verses of John 1.

The Son is also involved with the preparation of the heavens (Proverbs 8:27). He was not a spectator, but the Executor (Hebrews 1:10). He has given the heavens its form, splendor and clothing of sun, moon and stars. The heavens were drawn by Him like an umbrella that covers the water streams as a firmament, like drawing a circle with a pair of compasses (cf. Isaiah 40:22; Job 26:9-2 Samuel :). In that firmament He made the clouds firm, that they may hold the water so that at His time and in the places He chooses, they may pour out water over the earth (Proverbs 8:28; Job 26:8; Job 36:27-Joel :Job 37:11). Also “the springs of the deep” can flow by the power that He gives to them.

The place of the sea is not determined by evolution, but is given to it by the Son (Proverbs 8:29). Thereby He also has commanded that the sea keeps the boundary that was set by Him and that it will not transgress this boundary (Jeremiah 5:22; Job 38:10-1 Kings :). He has ordained the foundations of the earth in such a way, that the earth will stand unshakably (Psalms 104:5).

All the creational acts that were just described by Wisdom, testify of the Divine wisdom, on which it is founded. That proves the pre-existence of Wisdom before creation. God has designed His work and has executed it with Wisdom, which is by His Son.

In Proverbs 8:30 it is not anymore about creation, but about the relation between the LORD, Yahweh, and Wisdom. Wisdom was “beside Him” eternally. She is loved by God, for Wisdom is the Person of Christ. He is the Word which was with God in the beginning (John 1:1). In the New Testament we see again that same relationship of love in the love between the Father and the Son. The relationship between the Father and the Son is one of eternal love (John 17:5; John 17:24).

While there is no time in eternity, it is still expressed in such a way that the Son was “daily” the Father’s delight. In that way He allows us to share the feelings of His heart for His Son. It is at the same time an example to us to be occupied with the Son daily, to see Him and to rejoice in Him. There cannot be another object of love and delight for us than He to Whom the heart of God goes out, can there?

From all eternity He had been “a master workman” and His “delight”. These expressions indicate how much God loved Him and how much He rejoiced in Him. There has never been a time that it was otherwise. God looked at Him with the greatest and deepest love and joy eternally. The cause of that is the full unity in nature, features and desires, which is between Them. There was and is perfect harmony in thoughts and feelings. Everything that God is, He saw and sees in His Son.

That did not change when the Son became the Creator, for His creational work is the execution of the intention of God. When He created the heavens and the earth, He was playing a game as it were, which He played with great joy. It makes us think of the satisfaction He had when after He had finished the creation, saw everything and then observed that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Through what the Son has created, a new territory comes to being, in which the Son Himself finds His delight (Proverbs 8:31). He Who has always been the delight of God’s heart and before Whom He always rejoiced, also rejoiced in the world of God’s world. Then it looks like He discovers something in there that fills Him with joy, which are “the sons of men”. He calls them “His delight”.

He delights in all His creation works, but in man He has a special delight. His delight in man appears in the clearest way from the fact that He has become Man. The angels rejoiced when He created the world (Job 38:6-Judges :). But when the Son becomes Man, they see God’s delight in men and without any jealousy they praise Him for that with the words: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14).

God has His pleasure with men. Therefore Christ became Man. God has no delight in sinful men. He is pleased with that one Man, His Son Jesus Christ, Who came as the expression of God’s delight in all men, for He came to save people from the eternal judgment. Each individual who confesses his sins and believes in Christ and His redemption work on the cross will share in God’s pleasure. God is pleased with every individual who is related with His Son through faith in His work.

World history is not an accident, in which spontaneously the Son of God once entered. At the beginning of all the ways of God is Wisdom, the personification of the Lord Jesus. This is the profound meaning of the world and its history. This is shown in a nutshell in Hebrews 1 (Hebrews 1:2-Leviticus :). Christ is the center of God's ways.

Knowing His Person not only answers the questions of our heart, but takes us into the world of the Father and the Son. By the speaking of Wisdom out of that eternity we get an impression here. We are not just spectators in this majestic and sovereign acting of Wisdom, but in His grace, we are involved in this eternal plan of God. We are introduced in the house of Wisdom, as we see in Proverbs 9.

It is this Wisdom Who has accompanied any act of God with this earth, whether it concerns the creation or salvation history. All things are made through Him and for Him. This glory as Mediator is here before us in the joy that God has in him. And he is not a Mediator of angels, but his delight is with the children of men (Hebrews 2:16).

Verses 32-36

The Blessing of Listening to Wisdom

After the description of the Person of Wisdom and Her work, the logical conclusion, introduced by “now therefore”, should be that the sons listen to Her (Proverbs 8:32). Therefore She calls upon the sons who have Her nature, who are wise. She declares all those who “keep Her ways”, to be “blessed”, for they show that they are not only hearers, but also doers.

She appeals to them to heed instruction, for in that way one can become wise (Proverbs 8:33). As an extra exhortation, the appeal sounds not to neglect the instruction. Not listening means neglecting. He who does that, shows that he is a fool. He will not escape the eternal punishment.

He, who listens to Wisdom, is “blessed” (Proverbs 8:34). He who listens, will make all effort not to miss a word that Wisdom speaks out. He watches “daily” at the “gates” of Wisdom, in order to catch and treasure each word that She speaks out. With the “gates” and the “doorposts” we could think of the entrance of the city and the temple of God (cf. Luke 21:38). To watch and to guard means that we focus on something by paying full attention. It speaks of an expectation with greatest concentration on what Wisdom, the Word of God, will say.

This patiently waiting on Wisdom, watchfully and close to Her house, is rewarded with finding life (Proverbs 8:35). Wisdom and life are at the closest related to one another. The purpose of wisdom is that the true life, which is life in fellowship with God, is lived. “To obtain favor” means to be accepted by God. It is the awareness of the kindness of or recognition by God.

What a fool is somebody who sins against Wisdom (Proverbs 8:36). To sin means to miss the goal, so here it means missing Wisdom, which is Christ. Christ is the center of all God’s plans. We see that in the Scriptures. He who sins against Him, so misses Him, misses everything that is important to God. That lack is fatal. He who accepts this lack because he refuses Wisdom, harms himself tremendously. It proves hatred against Wisdom and love for what will be his death. Sinners die because they choose against Christ (cf. Hosea 13:9).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Proverbs 8". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/proverbs-8.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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