Solomon uses the literary tool of personification to teach his children about the attributes and nature of God. By using this method of teaching, Solomon takes an abstract concept like wisdom and makes it real for his kids.
Some scholars have called Proverbs 8 the personification of Jesus Christ. While Jesus certainly had all these attributes and characteristics of wisdom, there are some points in this Proverb that clearly rule out this idea.
The first and strongest argument is that wisdom is created (vv. 22-25). We know that God existed in three persons before time began, so this can’t be Jesus himself, but the wisdom of God explained as a divine being created by God.
The second equally strong argument is that wisdom is personified as a female being (vv. 1-3). From all the rest of Scripture, especially the Gospels, we know Jesus is male, not female.
The third argument against wisdom as the personification of Jesus Christ is that wisdom does not claim to be God or a part of the Trinity. Wisdom is present with God at the time of creation, and and remains in the presence of God, but is not God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit.
This proverb has the following outline:
- Introduction (vv. 1-3)
- Invitation to all and benefits listed (vv. 4-11)
- The great value and influence of wisdom (vv. 12-21)
- Wisdom at the beginning, at Creation (vv. 22-31)
- Final appeal (vv. 32-36)
In the introduction, Wisdom invites everyone to learn from her. This is not a secret club or a privileged access – the invitation is made publicly, at the busy places where people live (from the top of the hill, at the crossroads, at the entrance to the city). The same invitation is true and available in our day – the question is, will we slow down and listen and learn?
As Wisdom introduces herself to all, she proclaims her faithfulness and value, proclaiming her worth to be more that even silver or gold. While not specifically called out here, Wisdom must be acquired by each individual, and cannot be handed down from generation to generation, like silver or gold. The invitation to wisdom can be handed down, but must be received and acted upon by each person.
Unlike silver or gold, which are scarce, expensive, and in short supply, Wisdom is readily available and has no virtual limits, as Wisdom is the very attributes and nature of God. It’s as if Solomon were saying that we are so focused on finding pennies on the sidewalk that we miss the hundred dollar bills floating all around us.
In verses 12-21, Wisdom proclaims her great value and influence when called upon. Wisdom also introduces us to her housemate, Prudence. Prudence can best be described as “good judgment”. So Solomon teaches us that we need wisdom to discern right from wrong, good from bad, as well as the ability to know how and when to apply that wisdom.
In verses 22-31, Solomon shows how wisdom is created by God, but was with God during Creation. This section of Proverbs 8 is reminiscent of God’s dialog with Job, when God asks Job if he was around when God created the world, its creatures, and the universe. Of course, Job’s answer is no, he was not around, and just shuts his mouth and quits complaining to God. You can read this in Job chapters 38-42.
Wisdom makes a final appeal to all who will listen in verses 32-36. Solomon shows the immense value that Wisdom offers if we will stop, listen, learn, and apply all that she has to offer.
May we all take Wisdom up on her invitation today.