Christ, as Wisdom, calls to the sons of men. (1-11) The nature and riches of Wisdom. (12-21) Christ one with the Father, in the creation of the world, and rejoicing in his work for the salvation of man. (22-31) Exhortations to hear Christ's word. (32-36)
Verses 1-11 The will of God is made known by the works of creation, and by the consciences of men, but more clearly by Moses and the prophets. The chief difficulty is to get men to attend to instruction. Yet attention to the words of Christ, will guide the most ignorant into saving knowledge of the truth. Where there is an understanding heart, and willingness to receive the truth in love, wisdom is valued above silver and gold.
Verses 12-21 Wisdom, here is Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; it is Christ in the word, and Christ in the heart; not only Christ revealed to us, but Christ revealed in us. All prudence and skill are from the Lord. Through the redemption of Christ's precious blood, the riches of his grace abound in all wisdom and prudence. Man found out many inventions for ruin; God found one for our recovery. He hates pride and arrogance, evil ways and froward conversation; these render men unwilling to hear his humbling, awakening, holy instructions. True religion gives men the best counsel in all difficult cases, and helps to make their way plain. His wisdom makes all truly happy who receive it in the love of Christ Jesus. Seek him early, seek him earnestly, seek him before any thing else. Christ never said, Seek in vain. Those who love Christ, are such as have seen his loveliness, and have had his love shed abroad in their hearts; therefore they are happy. They shall be happy in this world, or in that which is beyond compare better. Wealth gotten by vanity will soon be diminished, but that which is well got, will wear well; and that which is well spent upon works of piety and charity, will be lasting. If they have not riches and honour in this world, they shall have that which is infinitely better. They shall be happy in the grace of God. Christ, by his Spirit, guides believers into all truth, and so leads them in the way of righteousness; and they walk after the Spirit. Also, they shall be happy in the glory of God hereafter. In Wisdom's promises, believers have goods laid up, not for days and years, but for eternity; her fruit therefore is better than gold.
Verses 22-31 The Son of God declares himself to have been engaged in the creation of the world. How able, how fit is the Son of God to be the Saviour of the world, who was the Creator of it! The Son of God was ordained, before the world, to that great work. Does he delight in saving wretched sinners, and shall not we delight in his salvation?
Verses 32-36 Surely we should hearken to Christ's voice with the readiness of children. Let us all be wise, and not refuse such mercy. Blessed are those who hear the Saviour's voice, and wait on him with daily reading, meditation, and prayer. The children of the world find time for vain amusements, without neglecting what they deem the one thing needful. Does it not show contempt of Wisdom's instructions, when people professing godliness, seek excuses for neglecting the means of grace? Christ is Wisdom, and he is Life to all believers; nor can we obtain God's favour, unless we find Christ, and are found in him. Those who offend Christ deceive themselves; sin is a wrong to the soul. Sinners die because they will die, which justifies God when he judges.
Proverbs 8:1-36 . Contrasted with sensual allurements are the advantages of divine wisdom, which publicly invites men, offers the best principles of life, and the most valuable benefits resulting.from receiving her counsels. Her relation to the divine plans and acts is introduced, as in Proverbs 3:19 Proverbs 3:20 , though more fully, to commend her desirableness for men, and the whole is closed by an assurance that those finding her find God's favor, and those neglecting ruin themselves. Many regard the passage as a description of the Son of God by the title, Wisdom, which the older Jews used (and by which He is called in Luke 11:49 ), as John 1:1 , &c., describes Him by that of Logos, the Word. But the passage may be taken as a personification of wisdom: for, (1) Though described as with God, wisdom is not asserted to be God. (2) The use of personal attributes is equally consistent with a personification, as with the description of a real person. (3) The personal pronouns used accord with the gender (feminine) of wisdom constantly, and are never changed to that of the person meant, as sometimes occurs in a corresponding use of spirit, which is neuter in Greek, but to which masculine pronouns are often applied ( John 16:14 ), when the acts of the Holy Spirit are described. (4) Such a personification is agreeable to the style of this book (compare Proverbs 1:20 , Proverbs 3:16 Proverbs 3:17 , 4:8 , 6:20-22 , 9:1-4 ), whereas no prophetical or other allusions to the Saviour or the new dispensation are found among the quotations of this book in the New Testament, and unless this be such, none exist. (5) Nothing is lost as to the importance of this passage, which still remains a most ornate and also solemn and impressive teaching of inspiration on the value of wisdom.
1-4. The publicity and universality of the call contrast with the secrecy and intrigues of the wicked ( Proverbs 7:8 , &c.).
5. wisdom--literally, "subtilty" in a good sense, or, "prudence."
fools--as Proverbs 1:22 .
6. excellent things--or, "plain," "manifest."
opening . . . things--upright words.
7. For . . . truth--literally, "My palate shall meditate," or (as Orientals did) "mutter," my thoughts expressed only to myself are truth.
wickedness--specially falsehood, as opposed to truth.
8. in righteousness--or, "righteous" ( Psalms 9:8:11:7 ).
froward--literally, "twisted," or contradictory, that is, to truth.
9. plain . . . understandeth--easily seen by those who apply their minds.
that find--implying search.
10. not silver--preferable to it, so last clause implies comparison.
11. (Compare Proverbs 3:14 Proverbs 3:15 ).
12. prudence--as in Proverbs 8:5 . The connection of "wisdom" and "prudence" is that of the dictates of sound wisdom and its application.
find . . . inventions--or, "devices," "discreet ways" ( Proverbs 1:4 ).
13. For such is the effect of the fear of God, by which hatred to evil preserves from it.
froward mouth--or, "speech" ( Proverbs 2:12 , 6:14 ).
14. It also gives the elements of good character in counsel.
sound wisdom--( Proverbs 2:7 ).
I . . . strength--or, "As for me, understanding is strength to me," the source of power ( Ecclesiastes 9:16 ); good judgment gives more efficiency to actions;
15, 16. of which a wisely conducted government is an example.
17. early--or, "diligently," which may include the usual sense of early in life.
18. durable riches . . . righteousness--Such are the "riches," enduring sources of happiness in moral possessions (compare Proverbs 3:16 ).
19. (Compare Proverbs 8:11 , 3:16 ).
20, 21. The courses in which wisdom leads conduct to a true present prosperity ( Proverbs 23:5 ).
22-31. Strictly, God's attributes are part of Himself. Yet, to the poetical structure of the whole passage, this commendation of wisdom is entirely consonant. In order of time all His attributes are coincident and eternal as Himself. But to set forth the importance of wisdom as devising the products of benevolence and power, it is here assigned a precedence. As it has such in divine, so should it be desired in human, affairs (compare Proverbs 3:19 ).
possessed--or, "created"; in either sense, the idea of precedence.
in the beginning--or simply, "beginning," in apposition with "me."
before . . . of old--preceding the most ancient deeds.
23. I was set up--ordained, or inaugurated ( Psalms 2:6 ). The other terms carry out the idea of the earliest antiquity, and illustrate it by the details of creation ( Proverbs 8:24-29 ).
24. brought forth--(Compare Psalms 90:2 ).
abounding--or, "laden with water."
25. settled--that is, sunk in foundations.
26. fields--or, "out places," "deserts," as opposite to (habitable) "world."
highest part--or, "sum," all particles together,
27. when he set . . . depth--marked out the circle, according to the popular idea of the earth, as circular, surrounded by depths on which the visible concave heavens rested.
28. established . . . deep--that is, so as to sustain the waters above and repress those below the firmament ( Genesis 1:7-11 , Job 26:8 ).
29. commandment--better, the shore, that is, of the sea.
foundations--figuratively denotes the solid structure ( Job 38:4 , Psalms 24:2 ).
30, 31. one brought up--an object of special and pleasing regard. The bestowal of wisdom on men is represented by its finding a delightful residence and pleasing God.
32-36. Such an attribute men are urged to seek.
34. watching . . . waiting--literally, "so as to watch"; wait, denoting a most sedulous attention.
35. (Compare Luke 13:23 Luke 13:24 ).
36. sinneth . . . me--or better, "missing me," as opposed to "finding" ( Proverbs 8:35 ).
love death--act as if they did (compare Proverbs 17:9 ).