Chapter 8

Wisdom's Call

Chapter 8 (and continuing through most of chapter 9) returns to the theme of Wisdom personified, many of the same ideas in Proverbs 1:20-33, but more. My NIV gave Wisdom four paragraphs in chapter 8, and one (or maybe three) more in chapter 9 which we'll save for our final lesson in this series. As I said before, I mostly agree with the NIV editors on the paragraph breaks, and I use them for smaller headings, beginning now with the topic introduction.

Wisdom Calls Out (Again)

[Read v.1-3]
1 Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud:
The first three verses are the narrator (Solomon) speaking, to introduce his friend Wisdom again. Notice the similarity of wording with 1:20,21, where (v.1=1:20) call + raise her voice; (v.2=1:21) paths meet = head of street; v.3=1:21) gates = gateways.

With verse 4 Wisdom herself begins speaking, now addressing all people before turning her attention to the "simple" of 1:22 [read v.4-5]

4 "To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.
Then the focus shifts away from any parallel with chapter one, and onto her content, not so much topically as it is about its source (Wisdom's mouth) where the poetic form stretches over four verses, another three-layer doublet of doublets of doublets [read v.6-9]
6 Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
7 My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.
8 All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.
9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge.
Now a couple verses echoing the comparison of Wisdom's value with silver and gold in Pr.2:4, 3:14 [read v.10-11]
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
There's another silver-and-gold comparison later in the chapter, in v.19. Rubies (v.11) also shows up earlier in 3:15. Of course if you are really wise, you don't care about gold and silver and rubies at all, God owns it all, and God can -- and does! -- give it to us any time at all, mostly when He decides we need it, which He knows far better than we do. We still need to work -- work was given to Adam before the Fall -- but we do the work God gave us, making the world a better place, and people mostly pay us for doing that! God has a monopoly on Good Ideas.

Wealth and Power

Although there is nothing in the text I could find that forces us to conclude that Wisdom (and not Solomon) is speaking the previous eight verses (v.4-11), the NIV editors decided in her favor, I think probably correctly. In Song of Solomon you can tell who is speaking, mostly from the form of the verb, but those are second-person verbs; here we have only first-person, which is the same across gender in Hebrew. Now she refers to herself by name [read v.12-16]
12 "I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.
15 By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just;
16 by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth.
Notice all the adjectives here, power and judgment, wealth and influence, the kinds of things people of the world seek after. God praised Solomon for not asking for all those things, but gave them to him anyway because he did not seek them. God often does that [read v.17-21]
17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.
Seek wisdom, the rest of that stuff comes for free.

Wisdom's Pedigree

There is a small hint at Wisdom's eternal credentials in 3:19, but here it is ten times as much [read v.22-26]
22 "The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;
23 I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.
24 When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world.
Notice that Wisdom is still a creation of God, but she predates the creation of the universe. In fact, God applied wisdom to do that creating. Have you ever created something new, perhaps a piece of music played artistically, or maybe a culinary masterpiece?

My sister was an awesome cook. In her later years she produced a microwave-only cookbook for her cognitive-challenged adopted son, and she invented every recipe, partly out of her store of knowledge, partly trial-and-error. It's still available on Amazon (No-Stove Cooking by Elizabeth Trealoff). She could do that. I get to be creative by writing computer programs, and I know for a fact that it's a lot of work. But these are tiny snippets of creativity; God did the whole universe in only six days. He needed a lot of Wisdom to pull that off. Read some more [read v.27-31]

27 I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.
I know that kind of feeling, the satisfaction of a job well-done.

Oh by the way, the "Climate-change" worriers used to make a big deal over global warming and melting ace caps, until they noticed those things are not happening as fast as they were predicting. We Christians can look at verse 29 (and its parallel in Job 38:8-11) and not worry at all. I once did the math, and if all the ice in the whole world were to melt, the oceans could only rise 100 meters, not even high enough to reach Grants Pass. I hope none of you wasted any money seeing Kevin Costner in Waterworld, where all the land in the world was covered with rising seawater, it was pure fiction. If all the ice melted, at most 15% of the land would be covered, and enough of the high mountains would become arable farmland to compensate any inundation. Not only can we trust what God has said, the physics support it. Furthermore, even if all that did happen, at the present rate of increase (doubling every century), it would be 700 years happening. You could crawl on your hands and knees toward high ground and not get wet from the rising seawater. God promised not to flood the world again with water [Gen.9:11-16] and the physics supports that.

Conclusion to Sons (and Daughters)

This is not Solomon addressing "My Son" but Wisdom speaking to all sons and daughters everywhere (there is no "my" in the Hebrew text) [read v.32-36]
32 "Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.
34 Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
35 For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.
36 But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death."
Do you remember Mary and Martha the day Jesus came to dinner, and Martha was busy putting on a fine feast for the Lord of the Universe, and Mary just sat there listening to the Lord of the Universe, and Jesus said she had made a better choice [Luke 10:42]? He got that from verse 34, here in Proverbs. Well, OK, Mary was not out in the doorway, she was inside where Jesus was, but she was there to pick up what she could. We need to do that. There are only two sides, in or out. Be in.

Tom Pittman
2022 August 22