Proverbs 8 Study Notes


8:1-3 Like the forbidden woman (7:5), wisdom—again personified as a lady (1:20-21)—extends an invitation to the inexperienced (8:5; cp. 7:7). Unlike the forbidden woman, wisdom’s invitation is very public in broad daylight, her appeal is spiritual not sexual, and her promise is life not death. Wisdom and understanding are two names for the same “lady.”

8:4 Her appeal to people and the children of Adam (lit “descendants of Adam”) may emphasize her broad appeal (Ps 49:1-2) or the mortality of her audience (2Ch 14:11; Ps 39:5; 90:3; Is 51:12).


Hebrew pronunciation [dah ATH]
CSB translation knowledge
Uses in Proverbs 39
Uses in the OT 88
Focus passage Proverbs 8:9-10,12

Fundamentally, da‘ath (knowledge) refers to a relational awareness of people or objects gained through the senses. Knowledge is gained through practical involvement with the object of knowledge, and da‘ath only infrequently expresses the concept of abstract intellectual knowledge apart from relationship. In Proverbs, there are two understandings of knowledge. In chaps. 1-9, knowledge focuses more on insight gained through theological reflection (1:7,29; 2:5-6,10; 3:20; 9:10), while in chaps. 10-29, knowledge focuses primarily upon the ability to handle interpersonal relationships (10:14; 11:9; 12:1; 14:6; 17:27; 19:25; 21:11; 23:12). In theological contexts, God possesses knowledge (Jb 10:7; Pr 3:20), and he disseminates it to men (Ps 94:10; 119:66; Jb 21:22; Is 40:14). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (da‘ath, Pr 1:7; 2:5), and the perception of God’s plans and purposes through relationship with him is referred to as knowledge (Is 5:13; 11:2; 58:2; Jr 10:14; 51:17).

8:5 On shrewd and inexperienced, see note at 1:4. Common sense is literally an “understanding heart”—a mind that functions as it should (4:23; cp. 6:32). On foolish, see “fool” in note at 1:22.

8:6 The word translated noble might also mean “morally straight” (v. 9).

8:7 On detestable, see note at 3:32.

8:8 On perverse, see “crooked” in note at 2:15.

8:9 Both clear and right relate to what is straight in front of a person, not twisted, crooked, or off to the side. A perceptive person is insightful, intelligent, and discerning (1:5). Those who seek knowledge diligently will discover it (2:1-5).

8:10 One must choose to pursue either godly wisdom or riches; there is no third way (4:27; Mt 6:24). Yet there is often monetary reward with wisdom (Pr 8:18-21; cp. 1Kg 3:11-13).

8:11 Lady wisdom is speaking (vv. 1,4,12), commending wisdom.

8:12-14 The point of wisdom sharing a home with or possessing the other virtues is that if you find one you find the others. Those who fear the Lord have the mind of Christ and therefore view evil the same way that God does (1Co 2:15-16). Arrogant pride translates two Hebrew words for pride; the first is found in 15:25 and 16:19, the second in 16:18. Pride and arrogance are characteristics of those who refuse to acknowledge God’s rule. Good advice and sound wisdom imply counsel that brings success (19:20; 20:18; Is 28:29). These kinds of qualities belong to God (Jb 12:13). The Spirit (Is 11:2) and the Son (1Co 1:30) mediate wisdom’s qualities to godly people.

8:15-16 People in positions of political and judicial responsibility achieve success only through godly wisdom. Nobles are powerful and respected royal courtiers (17:7,26; 19:6; 25:7), the opposite of the boorish fool (Is 32:5,8); the same Hebrew word describes those who have a generous and willing spirit (Ex 35:5,22; 2Ch 29:31; Ps 51:12).

8:17 To love and to search imply emotional passion and diligence.

8:18 Riches and honor involve wealth granted by lady wisdom without social stigma (3:16; 11:16; 22:4; Jms 2:6; 5:1). Ironically, those who pursue riches get dishonor (Jr 17:11; 1Tm 6:10). Lasting wealth is wealth in this life that does not evaporate (11:7; 13:11; 27:23-24; 28:22), and it includes treasures in heaven as well (Mt 6:20; 1Tm 6:17-18).

8:19 Pure is literally “choice,” meaning “desired, precious” (Ps 132:13).

8:20-21 Where wisdom “walks” is where she can be found and where she will lead her followers so they will be rewarded. The reward of her ways contrasts with the disastrous ways of the wicked and fools (2:15; 4:14; 5:8-10; 22:5; see note at 1:15). On inheritance, see note at 3:35.

8:22-29 Wisdom was acquired by God before the earth began. Wisdom witnessed all the rest of God’s creative activity, and wisdom was a craftsman in creation. Therefore, wisdom is in a unique position to explain creation to mortals (Jb 38:2-4). Since wisdom is a skill dependent on knowledge, it is not really an entity that can be created. So this is a figurative way to say that God is its source. Thus true wisdom can only come from him. The concept that God created wisdom also conveys that all God created and all he does are the products of his infinite wisdom. Because wisdom existed before creation and was involved in creating the universe (Pr 3:19-20; 8:22,30), and because the same is said of Christ (Jn 1:3; 1Co 8:6; Col 1:15-16), wisdom has been identified with Christ. However, the NT never cites Proverbs or the Greek word for “wisdom” (sophia) with regard to the preexistence of Christ. Also, Pr 8:22-25 declare that wisdom was acquired, formed, and born, but Christ is coeternal with the Father. Wisdom was a spectator during creation, but Christ is the Creator (Jn 1:3; Col 1:16). Christ displays God’s wisdom in atonement (1Co 1:20-25,30), in which wisdom had no role. Christ is similar to wisdom in some ways but far superior (Mt 12:42); he is wisdom’s source and consummate expression.

8:30-31 Wisdom was beside God, but only God was the Creator. Wisdom was rejoicing in God’s creation; it would be sinful to celebrate creation without acknowledging God. Within creation, wisdom’s ultimate object of rejoicing and delighting is humankind.

8:32-34 And now draws a logical conclusion from the prior saying. Because wisdom is ancient and was with God in creation and delights in humanity, she can teach people how to be truly happy (see note at 3:13-18). The key is to listen to her, not ignore instruction (1:25; 13:18; 15:32), and desire her so much as to hang around her doors in order not to miss her invitation (9:4).

8:35-36 On life, see note at 3:22. To obtain favor is to become someone in whom the Lord delights (11:20; 12:2,22; 15:8; 18:22) and whom he blesses. This word for sin is literally “miss the mark” or “fall short” (Is 65:20), an apt contrast to finds. Harm refers to violence (Lm 2:6; Ezk 22:26; Zph 3:4) or brutality (Jr 22:3). Rejecting wisdom is self-destructive (Pr 1:18-19,31-32; 2:18-19; 26:6; 29:6,24).