Proverbs 8:12-21

Proverbs 8:12-21

8:12-21 — “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. 13 The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. 14 I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength. 15 By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; 16 by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. 17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. 18 Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. 19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. 20 I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, 21 granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.

It is said that this autobiography is quite similar to those found in the Ancient Near East autobiographies. Wisdom tells us the traits with which she is associated (prudence, knowledge, and discretion). Wisdom also recognizes that her fear of the Lord (cf. 1:7) means that she hates evil, evil speech, and pride, arrogance (v. 13). “Some men refrain from evil actions through fear of shame or punishment; but true wisdom teaches men not only to refrain from evil, but to hate it, through the fear of God.” (Lawson)

Verses 14-20 set forth all that she offers. Verse 14 speaks of counsel, sound wisdom, insight and strength — only she has them. In fact, the most powerful men have some of these and they received them from her (v. 15). If we would be like the great powerful men, then we must have wisdom.

We are to seek wisdom in a diligent fashion (v. 17)[1] — she is not hard to find but difficult to attain and she will only be given to those who diligently seek her. The same is taught in ch. 2. In finding her, we find much more — she is the gateway unto riches, honor, enduring wealth, and righteousness. “Part of what makes wisdom different is her care (“love”) of those who value her (v. 17). Her call conceals no plan to exploit, no desire to use and then abandon. She is not only bright, she is good; she makes herself available to all who single-mindedly pursue her. Their welfare is her aim.” (Hubbard)

Interestingly, the wise are often “wealthy” — not that all wealthy people are wise but rather, the wise are blessed with wealth. “Enduring wealth” is promised by wisdom. Two comments by commentators are worth quoting.

“Paradoxically when wealth is sought it corrupts, but when wisdom is sought, edifying wealth is given (cf. 1 K. 3:4-15). A person who through striving after wisdom achieves wealth, and with it inevitably power, will be humane and civilized.” (Waltke)

“Are the benefits material or immaterial? Certainly both, but predominantly the latter. If men in authority (15, 16) need wisdom, it is for justice, not advantage. If riches (18) are conferred by it, they are coupled with honour and righteousness…” (Kidner)

Yet, lest we misunderstand, we are reminded of the value of these rewards in v. 19. She is better than all the wealth she confers. Though she fills our treasures (v. 21), she is better than gold, even fine gold. Still, Proverbs quite often links righteousness with riches, links wisdom with wealth (as we will see later on). It is not a simple equation but quite often, the Lord blesses with wisdom and all the other blessings that come with it. The wise know how to value their wealth in a godly fashion.

[1] Jeremiah 29:13, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

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