Verses 1-36 The Role of Wisdom in Creation
Chapter eight in Proverbs is the most profound in the book and consists of three sections. (1-11; 12-21; 22;31) These sections are followed by a closing exhortation. (32-36) It is interesting to note that each section has twenty two lines. They only have twenty two lines and in the Greek Septuagint which matchs the Hebrew alphabet. This careful construction of the poem shows the work of a master craftsman.
The content of the poem is far more significant than the structure. In the Chapter wisdom is depicted as having a personal existence of her own. Here we see wisdom as a female speaker addressing her subjects. She calls out from the meeting places and the persons passing in the streets and at the gates of the city. Wisdom takes a stand in a prominent place and cries out to all who pass her by. “Listen, for I will speak noble things … For my mouth will utter truth; And wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” The words that she speaks are proclaimed to be, “All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; There is nothing crooked or perverted in them.” And those who abide in her words, “They are all straightforward.” The value of her wisdom in compared to that of gold, silver and the finest jewels. There is nothing that is comparable to her not even that which all the people desire to possess.
In the next section (12-21) wisdom is a queenly lady who has majestic power and authority, she rules the governments through their kings, princes, and nobles whom wisdom elevates to position. The beginning of this section is with wisdoms self-description. She dwells in prudence which in the Hebrew means common sense. She has the ability to not make foolish mistakes. Wisdom has discretion to make intelligent and purposeful planning, she has the ability to be decisive and is a good administrator.
The theme of the book of Proverbs is stated again in verse 13 but in a different manner, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil.” Those who do not commit evil are endowed with success and wealth is for those who forsake evil and seek wisdom. Wisdom loves those who love her and she is righteous and just and rewards those who honor her. Here in the book of Proverbs those who are companions with wisdom are promised wealth with a full treasury.
In the last unit, (22-31) of this poem of wisdom is the most thought provoking. Biblical scholars do not agree on the meaning of these passages. These passages could have a far reaching implication to our Christian understanding of Christ as the preexistent Son of God. There are two issues for us to consider. First, is wisdom identifies as having a personality, and therefore in the context of these passages should begin with a capital “W?” Or, is wisdom only to be seen as an attribute, as it is an important one, of God? Is the writer of Proverbs saying, “As God is righteous and just, so is he also the essence of wisdom?
Wisdom here is personified, and is spoken of as present at and an agent of God at the creation. This interpretation is based upon the conviction of a connection between the idea advanced here and crucial passages in the New Testament which speaks of the eternal preexistent Christ. (John 1:1-3) In Corinthians Paul refers to Christ as “the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:24) Then in Colossians 1:15-16 Paul writes, “The image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation; for in Him all things were created.” Hebrews 1:2 says of the eternal Christ as the one “through whom also He created the world.” Is there a connection between Christ and wisdom of verses, (22-31). I believe that there is, that the passage in Proverbs is an insight into the doctrine of the preexistent Christ.
A second issue in this passage is the role of wisdom in creation. If the giving of personality to wisdom is a figure of speech, then all that is being said is a poetic commentary of God’s creative activity. But, if wisdom is a person, as Christ is a person, then the work of wisdom in creation is crucial. Verse 22 then becomes pivotal. “The Lord possessed me.” In verses 24-25 we see that wisdom had a beginning point before anything else came forth from God. “I was brought forth” is an expression for birth. Wisdom then would have been born before anything else that God has birthed.
The following verses (26-31) describe the presence and companionship of wisdom in God’s mighty works of creation. In Genesis 1 and Job 38 wisdom is depicted as God’s agent of and witness to the entire creation. In verse 30 we read, “Then I was beside Him, like a master workman.” Whether one uses a capital “W” or a lower case “w” it is evident that in Proverbs wisdom is exalted to the right hand of God.
In the closing exhortation (32-36) the youth are urged to pay attention to wisdoms claims that they may enjoy a happy and purposeful life. “For he who finds me finds life.” Jesus also said that about Himself. There is a way to life and there is a way to death. “All who hate me love death,” says wisdom.