8:22-31 — “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. 23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.
Not only do kings rule by wisdom (vv. 15-16) but wisdom has always dwelt with God. Wisdom is older than the universe and fundamental to it (Kidner). Some have wondered if this passage was not a reference to Christ (a hypostasis) or a literary – metaphorical personification. I believe it is the latter. The point of this passage is very simple: “we must do nothing without wisdom, God Himself has made and done nothing without it. The wisdom by which the world is rightly used is none other than the wisdom by which it exists.” (Kidner, 79)
Jesus is personified as Wisdom in the NT and no doubt those passages allude to this one in Proverbs (cf. Col. 1:15-17; 2:3; Rev. 3:14) — this Proverbs passage is in preparation of it. The Son was active in the creation of the world and He is the wisdom and power of God (Jn. 1:1-14; 1 Cor. 1:24, 30; Heb. 1:1-4).
Wisdom was brought into being in the service of God at creation (vv. 22-23). Wisdom recounts her presence and priority in creation (cf. Hubbard). She rejoiced in what was made (vv. 30-31) [as God rejoice in her (v. 30, depending on the translation)]. Verse 31 shows her delight in the children of men. “Remember that she had cried out to the sons of men in verse 4. No wonder she cared about them; she had watched their mother and father come fresh from the hand of God.” (Hubbard)
If God delighted in wisdom and always used wisdom, then how much more the sons of men? She offers herself to us and her credentials are impeccable.
8:32-36 — “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. 33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. 34 Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. 35 For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, 36 but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.”
Since she is indispensable to God, kings, and men, we ought to heed her call and not neglect her. As she calls out to us in the streets and at the gates, so we are to likewise look for her at her gates, beside her doors — we are not to miss to opportunity of admission. If we find her, we’ll have life and favor from the Lord. To reject her is our ruin. Life and death are before us; wisdom is life, folly is death. “Both Wisdom and the parents promise their obedient sons the most precious prize of all, eternal life, suggesting again the equation of Wisdom and her words with the father and his teaching (see 3:1-2, 21-22; 4:10, 13, 20-22; 6:23).” (Waltke)
So the path of wisdom is not an “added” bonus to life; it is life. To follow the fear of the Lord is not an additional dimension to one’s existence, it is the only path to everlasting existence. The world wants to marginalize or trivialize the Lord’s way of life; the Bible presents it as the only way to life. The issue is not open to debate — it calls us to decide — seek life or death.
1. Wisdom’s repeated calls for wisdom should challenge us. Surely our situation must be desperate if God’s Word should give so much attention to this and we give so little to it.
2. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose in seeking and asking for wisdom. The opposite will only end in death.