Proverbs Chapter 8

Proverbs chapter 8 provides us a second appeal to mankind from Wisdom personified as a woman.  It follows her first appeal from chapter 1 and stands in contrast to the appeal of the unchaste wife of chapter 7.

Here in the first 21 verses of Proverbs chapter 8 we see the following three-part structure as noted in Waltkes' commentary:

  • The setting and addressees (verses 1-5)
  • Wisdom's exhortation to listen with motivations (verses 6-11)
  • Wisdom's communicable Attributes in historical time (verses 12-21)

The Setting and Addressees of Wisdom's Appeal in Proverbs Chapter 8

In the first five verses of Proverbs Chapter 8, Wisdom is calling out; but notice that Wisdom calls to all - she calls to all of mankind (verse 4).  She makes a special appeal to the inexperienced and foolish (verse 5).  Also, notice the prominent places where she takes a stand (verse 2) and calls out (verse 1) so that all can see her:

  • at the heights overlooking the road (verse 2)
  • at the crossroads (verse 2)
  • besides the gates of the city (verse 3)
  • at the main entrance to the city (verse 3) 

She places herself high where all who are on the journey of life can see her as they choose their paths.  At the crossroads where decisions are made to choose Wisdom or folly she appeals to choose her.  At the city gates where decisions are made she appeals for wise choices.

Now notice that she doesn't simply cry out for them to choose Wisdom and Understanding; she calls for her hearers to learn to be shrewd and to develop common sense (verse 5).  

Wisdom's Exhortation to Listen with Motivations in Proverbs Chapter 8

In verses 6 through 11, Wisdom asks us to listen and provides us motivations to listen to her.  Here are the motivations for us to listen to Wisdom:

  1. She speaks of noble things (verse 6)
  2. What She says is right (verse 6)
  3. Her mouth tells the truth because wickedness is detestable to her (verse 7)
  4. All Her words are righteous, none are deceptive or perverse (verse 8)
  5. All Her words are clear to the perceptive (verse 9)
  6. All Her words are right to those who discover knowledge (verse 9)

Wisdom first tells us to listen in verse 6 and then explains the many reasons why we should listen to Her.  Then in verses 10 and 11, She tells us to choose, take, or accept Her instruction.  She explains that nothing can compare with Her instruction and knowledge because they are better than:

  • silver
  • pure gold
  • jewels

Wisdom's Communicable Attributes in Historical Time in Proverbs Chapter 8

Now Wisdom reveals Her value in two sets of five verses each.  Verses 12 through 16 showcase her value and role in civil order.  Verses 17 through 21 showcase her value in the form of material gifts for Her lovers.  Wisdom's attributes are communicable or transferrable to those who love Her.

Verses 12 through 16 of Proverbs Chapter 8

Wisdom first explains in verse 12 that She lives with shrewdness and has knowledge and discretion - this is Her character.  She further states that those who fear the Lord will hate evil (verse 13).  

By extension of that character to herself, she explains that she hates  arrogant pride, evil conduct and perverse speech (verse 13).  These three build upon one another.  Pride will lead to evil conduct which includes perverse speech.

In verse 14 Wisdom explains that She owns virtues that she can award to those that love her.  She has:

  • good advice 
  • competence 
  • understanding
  • strength

In verses 15 and 16 Wisdom explains that it is by Her bestowing of her virtues that:

  • kings reign
  • rulers enact just law
  • princes, nobles, and all righteous judges lead 

Verses 17 through 21 of Proverbs Chapter 8

Proverbs 8:17

Wisdom explains that She loves those who love Her and promises that those who search for Her will find Her (verse 17).  She explains that when they find Her they will find enduring riches or material well-being which leads to honor or social weight (verse 18).  When riches are sought it does not lead to Wisdom but when Wisdom is sought it leads to riches.

The fruit of Wisdom implies a spiritual pureness once the Wisdom lover obtains wealth.  The fruit of Wisdom is better than solid gold and its harvest better than pure silver (verse 19).  The seeker of Wisdom will bypass gold and silver to gain it.

In Proverbs Chapter 1, we are encouraged to walk in the way of wisdom and not wickedness.  Now here in Proverbs Chapter 8 we are told that Wisdom Herself walks in the way of righteousness and along the paths of justice (verse 20).

Not only is She walking the right path, because of that She can give wealth as an inheritance to those who love Her.  As a result, Her lovers are filling their treasuries (verse 21).

Proverbs Chapter 8 Verses 22 through 30

We learn in the New Testament that Jesus Christ is the agent and purpose of the creation for all things.  We learn from the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament that God, and therefore Jesus, created all things with wisdom by his side.  More specifically, Jesus Christ (as God) created the world with wisdom.

The ancient readers of Proverbs understood wisdom to exist with God before his creative acts.  Today, we understand that Jesus Christ also existed with him; and as God, created all things with wisdom.  I pray that we will see our need to request and receive godly wisdom in the conduct of our daily lives.

1. The Age and Source of Wisdom

We learn from Proverbs Chapter 8, verses 22 through 30 that wisdom existed with God before the creation of the world (verse 23).  Therefore, wisdom has existed from the beginning of time as it relates to man because man was created after the creation of the world.  Or, to put it another way, wisdom has always existed from man’s perspective.

The Bible tells us how wisdom came to be.  Because the Bible indicates wisdom had a beginning, it is not eternal as God is eternal.  Reading verse 22, we see that wisdom was possessed at the beginning; and in verses 24 and 25, that it was brought forth.  The term possessed is more properly to beget or bring forth and so aligns with the bringing forth found in verses 24 and 25.

This bringing forth metaphor indicates that the wisdom of Solomon comes from God’s essential being, it has an organic connection with God’s very nature and being, and it came into existence outside of him and independent from his being.

Wisdom was before all that we know of this world.  It existed before the depths or the primeval abyss of our oceans and its springs (verse 24), the mountains and hills (verse 25), the earth, its fields and the dust of the world (verse 26), and the heavens and the skies above (verses 27 and 28).  Indeed, when Almighty God formed the seas and the foundations of the earth, wisdom was there (verse 29) like a master craftsman (verse 30). 

God brought wisdom forth and used it not as one of his creatures subject to his rules and reasons, not as one of his magnificent creations designed to reflect his majesty and glory, but as a skilled master craftsman, incorruptible and pure, perfectly aligned with and positioned for his creative purposes.  We should praise God for his wisdom and take delight in his creation of the world we live in.

Proverbs 8:35-36

2. The Joy and Delight of Wisdom

The Bible tells us that God took daily delight in wisdom, the master craftsman.  What was it that wisdom did that was the daily delight of the Lord?  Was it the seeds sprouting from seemingly nothing to become beautiful plants and trees?  Perhaps it was the creatures of the seas, the earth or maybe the beautiful birds of the skies.  Or maybe it was the perfection of the movements of the universe, with its planets, moons, and stars.  We don’t know the answer but we do know that God saw all that he had made and it was very good (Genesis 1:31).

Also, we know that wisdom rejoiced before God always (verse 30) and that the inhabited world God created was the focus of, or the reason for the joy (verse 31).  God created man and wisdom is seen as delighting in the children of man (verse 31).  Wisdom undoubtedly rejoices and delights in man because man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and is therefore the greatest creation of God.

Man has the ability for eternal life with God, unlike the world created for him; he was originally created in the image of the eternal God.  Also, man has the ability to:

1) See God in his work (Romans 1:19:20);

2) Marvel at his power (Psalm 150:1);

3) Appreciate his goodness (Psalm 33:5); and,

4) Trace evidences of his wisdom (Psalm 204:24).

Like wisdom, man can see and marvel at the works of God, appreciate his goodness, and rejoice in God’s creation of himself.  Since wisdom existed before creation and its origins are distinct from it, it’s not accessible to man, cannot be subdued by man, and can only be revealed to man by God. However, man can pray for, and if God is willing, receive wisdom from him. 

Will you pray for wisdom so you can live wisely with the gift from the Creator of the universe?  The Book of James tells us that wisdom from God is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (James 3:17).

In summary, both the Old and New Testaments reveal the wisdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ and their roles in creation – wisdom as the skilled master craftsman and Jesus as the Creator God. 

God loves you and we should praise him for his creation of the world he created for us to live in.  Finally, we pray that you will see our need to request and receive godly wisdom so our lives are lived for God – our Creator.

References Used In the Development of This Study of Proverbs Chapter 8

  • Lockyer, Herbert. All Doctrines of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Waltke, Bruce, K. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-15. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co.