We have in this Chapter a most sublime account of some ancient events in eternity, and which, under the character of wisdom, the great speaker is calling upon the church to attend to. From beginning to end the subject is carried on by one and the same person. The chapter closeth with an exhortation.
Proverbs 8:1-4 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
The chapter opens with the cry of wisdom, and both the earnestness of the subject, and the earnestness with which it is enforced, recommend the whole to our attention. I do not presume to speak with a positiveness of determination; the general design of this Commentary being more to enquire than assert; more to seek the teaching of the Spirit, to be led by him into all truth, than to lead the Reader's mind concerning truth. But with all humbleness of soul while going over this most sublime chapter, I would venture to say, that as it appears to me the whole contents of it are concerning Christ as God-man Mediator, set up from everlasting. And under this one well known title, and office character of wisdom, Christ is here calling upon His church to attend to some things spoken respecting himself, and the Father's appointment of him to this office, which, if he had not communicated to the church, and by his Holy Spirit given an understanding to know, never could have been known or believed. Hence the chapter begins with the cry of' this glorious person, and the subject is proposed in a way of question, Doth not wisdom cry? Is it not plain enough to be heard in the numberless ways by which Christ as Mediator is proclaimed, throughout the whole book of God? What indeed doth the Bible treat of beside? There is nothing in it from beginning to end but Jehovah's love, and mercy and grace, and favour, in the gift of his Son for the salvation of sinners; and the glories of Christ's person, and the grace, and love of his heart in voluntarily standing up their great surety, and Saviour in redemption. Is not the whole voice of wisdom lifted up to proclaim these things? And to whom is salvation thus proclaimed, and the Lord Jesus the great author of it set forth, but to you O ye sons of men, that need both Christ and His salvation so very highly!
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.
Here we have both the glories of Christ, and the wretchedness of man strikingly represented. Jesus, well knowing how deaf and senseless our poor fallen nature is, and that unconscious of our own misery, and therefore unwilling to be prevailed upon to listen to what is proposed for our good, first declares to us our simplicity, and then the infinite importance of the things which he is going to declare to us, Excellent things they may well be called, for what can be equally excellent as the glories of his person, the riches of his grace, his suitableness to poor sinners, and the everlasting riches the possession of him must impart? And excellent things these are also in the view of the Father's appointment of them for poor sinners, and the Father's will and delight that they should be received by poor sinners, and made use of for his glory and the sinner's joy. Reader! are not these things excellent things; and right things, and coming from the lip of truth? And further, allow me to ask whether there be an apprehension of them as such in your soul? Hath the loud cry of Jesus reached your ear? Hath the voice of understanding been heard in the chambers of your heart? Do you from day today with the eye of faith behold Jesus standing in the top of high places; that is by way of ordinances in the gates of his word, in the ministry of his paths, and both at the entering in, and going out of his providences, in all that is going on in the world? Surely it is in all these, and by all these, Jesus cries and calls upon the sons of men. Neither is there a faculty of the mind, in the hearing ear, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart, but what hath daily appeals made to each and to all, to listen to the heavenly preacher, and to be made wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
This is a short but very comprehensive statement of who Christ is, and what is in him. Observe, he doth not say that he will give wisdom only, but that he is wisdom itself. He doth not declare that he, and he only, imparteth understanding, but that he himself is understanding. There is a vast deal more in these expressions than simply giving promises concerning them. For if Jesus be himself in the abstract these things, then must it undeniably follow, that neither wisdom nor understanding can be elsewhere, but in Christ. And it must further follow, That if Christ be both wisdom and understanding, in possessing him we possess all with him. Oh! precious wisdom! give me to know thee, and so to know thee as to be sensible of my union and interest with thee, and in thee. Then shall I enter into a right apprehension of those excellent things of the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit towards poor sinners, which thou hast come forth to proclaim, and which in possession secures the everlasting happiness of thy redeemed, in time, and to all eternity.
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
Reader! do pause over these verses, and in the midst of admiring and adoring Christ in his sovereign distinction of character, as the Wisdom-Mediator, here behold him also as the Power-Mediator of God for salvation, to everyone that believeth. 1 Corinthians 1:24. There is nothing more refreshing to the soul than the contemplation of Jesus in his mediatorial kingdom and government, the church's head and king in Zion. And what I particularly beg the Reader not to lose sight of, in this glorious distinction of character in our Jesus is, that Christ being king of Zion, by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, is Jehovah's king in Zion. It is Jehovah that hath set him there, and set him as his king in Zion. For so he saith, Psalms 2:6. For over and above his natural and essential right to all sovereignty and supremacy in common with the other persons of the Godhead as God, our Jesus hath a donative right as Mediator-head of the church, to this universal plenitude of power. All power, said Christ, in the moment of his ascension, is given unto me, in heaven and in earth. Matthew 28:18. Given unto him, that is, as Mediator. Both for the reward of his redemption work, and for the purposes of giving out all that should be needful in grace here, and glory to his people hereafter. I pray the Reader to be sure and keep this in remembrance; for it forms the sweetest view of Jesus in this almightiness of power, in that what he is in this light he is for his people. He hath power over all flesh to give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him. John 17:2. And while to the providential events that are going on in the world, from the government of kings to the numbering of the hairs of our head, it is Jesus ordains, disposeth, commands, controls, and appoints all; think, Reader, what a sweet thought this is also, that this sovereign power of Jesus is no less to gather to himself a church; to call poor sinners, to comfort distressed saints; to stop the proud man's oppression, and to lift up the humble from the dust. Precious, powerful Saviour! manifest, Lord, thy sovereignty by reigning in me, and ruling in me, and bringing every thought and imagination of my heart into subjection to the sceptre of thy grace.
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.
Reader! when Jesus saith, as he doth in the first of these verses, that he loves them that love him, do not imagine that it is meant to say, that our love of him becomes the cause of his love to us; for if we love him it is because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19. And certain it is that his love to us, and for us, is the sole cause of ours. Nay, more than this: if Jesus had not done more than merely looking upon us with love, and by his grace, shedding abroad his love in our hearts by his Holy Spirit, he had not subdued the natural enmity of our nature against him, and both planted love in us towards him, and drawn out that love in exercise upon him, never should we have loved him, notwithstanding all that he hath done for us, to all eternity. By what the loving and all lovely Redeemer here saith, of loving them that love him, we are to understand that in those precious souls where a love to him is shewn, as he himself is the author as well as the object of that love, such may be well assured that he loveth them who love him. And Jesus means, no doubt, at the same time to say by the expression, that he values such love, and his eye is continually upon it. And he will preserve it and keep it alive, and when they seem to feel their love towards him cool, still he will not suffer the flame to go out. Sweet thought to cherish. Song of Solomon 8:7. And see, Reader! what blessings are held forth to the lovers of Jesus, here are durable riches and righteousness. Not the fleeting, dying, transitory enjoyments of the world! Not the silver and gold of Peru! Not the righteousness of creatures, nor the bread of creatures which perisheth with using. But the durable riches of Christ's blood and righteousness which are forever, and the salvation which cannot be abolished. Oh! what fruit can be equal to the fruit of the Spirit, what revenue of choice silver and gold, to the possession of the everlasting income of Christ's righteousness, and peace, and joy, in the holy Ghost. Yes, precious Jesus, thine is substance indeed, to all who possess thee and thy treasures. All other attainments are hollow, unsubstantial, and insecure. Reader! what saith your soul's experience to these things? Do you enjoy Christ; is he your portion, your treasure, your happiness, your substance? If your heart can answer yes to the enquiry, then will you have a better apprehension of these things, than by any words which I can make use of, to shew the blessedness of their state, who in the love of Christ, and the possession of Christ, and an interest in his blood and righteousness; find a revenue indeed, of durable riches and pleasure.
The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
In these few verses are contained very many of the most sublime truths of the gospel, if we consider (as I have been all along considering through the chapter), that it is Jesus as Mediator, God and man in one person, here speaking to his church of himself and of his Father. In this sense Christ was as indeed possessed, set up, constituted and determined upon in the beginning of his ways. Set up secretly, not as yet openly to the church, but secretly in the divine decrees. And set up, not as God only, for then in this case the expression would not be suited to the divine nature, for how can God be said to be set up, who inhabiteth eternity. Neither as man only, for how could man be set up as man from everlasting. But in both natures as God-man Mediator he might be said to be set up, and possessed in the divine mind from all eternity. And in this sense also Christ might be said to be set up as the Wisdom-Christ, the pattern and sampler of the future creation of man. Paul, speaking to the same effect saith, that he is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature. Colossians 1:15 Intimating that though there is nothing visible in God, yet there was an holy thing, so called, Luke 1:35, to be openly born in after ages, which subsisted in the Son of God; and in this union of character, the Wisdom-Mediator elect stood by, when there were no depths, nor fountains abounding with water, and before an atom of the dust of the world was made. And in this sense also the expression as one brought up with him, is plain and intelligible. For the sacred persons of the God-head had not then gone forth in acts of creation. The Son of God had not then taken into union with himself the manhood. But the contemplation of the future event of this mysterious union with, all the blessed consequences of it, in the glories of the Mediator, and Jehovah's glory in him, together with all the salvation of his church; these made the Mediator Jehovah's delight, and the Mediator's delights were in contemplating his love and duty to his Father in redemption-work, and the final happiness of his church, thus rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and his delights were with the sons of men: The same word rendered brought up in this chapter, is in the book of the Canticles, (Song of Solomon 7:1) translated cunning workmen; meaning, jointly concerned in the works of creation, redemption, providence, and grace. As one brought up with him; wrapt up in the very bosom of the Father, embosomed, if the expression be allowable. So that there are two most blessed and glorious truths here contained. The sacred persons were unceasingly enjoying and solacing themselves in one another. This is one sweet thought. And the other is, that one, of their enjoyments arose from the salvation they had determined for our nature: I was daily his delight, said Jesus; and my delights were with the sons of men.
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
The chapter sweetly concludes as it begun. Christ as Wisdom Mediator having called aloud to the church to listen to him, and having opened his commission and shewn his love to his people, and the blessedness of knowing him; now folds up the whole in an earnest exhortation that his church will listen to him; and declares the happy effects of following his advice, and the awful consequence of rejecting it, in becoming their own soul's murderers.
AND now, Reader! having gone over this blessed chapter, pause and enquire at your own heart what are your views concerning the contents of it? Doth it strike your mind that the wisdom here spoken of, and here speaking, is the Wisdom-Mediator the Lord our righteousness, thus unfolding the sweet and secret transactions in that high character of God-man, which took place before the world began? Was the Son of God thus constituted, thus appointed, and by the union of natures, as the Redeemer elect, thus possessed by Jehovah in the beginning of his ways, and before his works of old? And was it indeed, thou blessed Jesus, was it thou that didst then stand intentionally, as thou didst afterwards stand openly and in reality, in the streets of thy city Jerusalem, and speaking to thy church in all these endearing terms, to invite poor sinners to be happy in thy blood and righteousness. Oh! Lord, cause poor sinners then, by the sweet constraining influences of thy Holy Spirit, to listen to thy call, and to regard thy gracious invitation. Cause both the Writer and the Reader of these lines, if consistent with thy holy counsel and will, to enter into an heartfelt apprehension of all these precious truths connected with the knowledge of thyself, and the enjoyment also; that thy love may be so shed abroad. in our hearts that we may inherit substance, and that thou thyself mayest be our treasure and fill all of them. Oh! precious Lord! let a daily knowledge of thee, and a daily enjoyment of thee be our portion; for then will all these blessings follow, and we shall find indeed that riches and honor are with thee; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent