A Proverb a day, with commentary from H.A. Ironside, a great Bible teacher from the mid-20th Century.
This meditation on Wisdom’s ways is a welcome relief from the folly and sin described in the previous chapter. This is especially true when the anointed eye discerns that wisdom as the uncreated Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God! Although the feminine form is used throughout, it is clear that in the latter part of the chapter it is Jesus who is before us.
Wisdom does not wait for men to seek her. She seeks to draw the simple from paths of error to the temple of knowledge and understanding. With yearning heart she takes her stand in the marketplace, the paths of pleasure, the courts of judgment, and the schools of learning. Anywhere and everywhere men are found, she is there- her cry and entreaty sounding above all the bustle of life. (See Pro_1:20-23.)
Wisdom incarnate is to be found in our Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word. Similarly the instructions of Wisdom are to be found in the written Word. The only true and lasting wisdom and knowledge are contained in this precious volume which “holy men of God [wrote] as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2Pe_1:21). Only true and right things are recorded there. Even when the sins of men and women are sharply delineated in all their grossness it is so we may learn from them.
Man may quibble; infidelity may sneer; pseudo-scholarship may reject; but He who cannot lie has declared, “the scripture cannot be broken” (Joh_10:35). It is an unhappy man who turns from this perfect wisdom to the vagaries of the human mind!
These verses are faith’s answer to the critic who prates of contradictions and errors in the inspired Word of God. Modesty alone should suggest that the fault might be in the reader-not in the Word. But man’s vanity and pride will not admit such a conclusion. Yet it will soon be proven to be true; for “one jot or one tittle [the smallest letter, or vowel-point] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Mat_5:18). How soon difficulties vanish when faith is exercised! Seemingly insurmountable objections are swept away in a moment when the light of Heaven shines into the soul and on the Scriptures. Jesus opened both the Scriptures and the understanding of the two with whom He walked to Emmaus. Difficulties vanish like mist before the rays of the sun when understanding is enlightened by the Word. “They are all plain to him that understandeth,” (Pro_8:9) for “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him” (Psa_25:14).
Incomparable treasure is found in the sacred Scriptures, which are relentlessly attacked by supercilious and unspiritual critics. The best writings of the best men can not compare with Scripture, for it is the very breathings of God. In Job 28 we have the account of the patriarch’s search for wisdom. All the precious metals and jewels of earth can not equal it, “for the price of wisdom is above rubies” (Job_28:18). Job finds it when he turns from everything on or under the earth to God Himself.
As noted earlier, wisdom is looked at as an essential part of deity. It is the very character of God-that character perfectly displayed in Christ. Evil, pride, and folly are all hateful to Him who is light and cannot abide the darkness.
These verses do not indicate that rulers always act according to understanding, but that none rule at all except by God’s appointment. “The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” (Dan_4:17). This gives the man of faith perfect rest in the midst of all the changing political scenes of earth. He can submit to any form of government or any character of chief magistrate because “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom_13:1).
Wisdom delights to reward those who seek her early in life, as in Solomon’s case. It is important to bear in mind that it is wisdom- and not God as such-that is referred to here. God also “is a re-warder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb_11:6). But it would be incorrect to limit His love only to those who return that love. Pro_8:17 refers to the active love of Wisdom.
In Pro_8:18-21 we see the treasures Wisdom gives to the one who loves her. The gifts bestowed are unspeakably precious and beyond all human valuation. She gives them lavishly to the diligent seeker who has learned to love her for her own sake. Apart from her the feet will stray in folly’s paths.
From this point on, the anointed eye loses sight of all else and is fixed on Christ; for it is He who is now presented for the contemplation of our souls. We see Christ as the uncreated Word, yet the begotten Son by eternal generation-titles admittedly paradoxical, but after all distinctly Scriptural.
Some have suggested that the term only begotten implies a period, however remote, when the Son did not exist. John’s Gospel clearly refutes this, for “the same was in the beginning with God” (Joh_1:2). He was begotten, not in the sense of beginning life, but as being of one nature and substance with the Father. There was never a moment in the past eternity when He was not with the Father. The apostle himself declares that the mystery is impossible to explain.
The Spirit carries us back beyond the beginning of Gen_1:1 to that beginning described in Joh_1:1. The Word who had no beginning was the Wisdom of God from eternity past. Pro_8:22 is a scene of fellowship-Jehovah possessed Him. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Wisdom was the object of Jehovah’s delight from everlasting.
“No man knoweth the Son, but the Father” (Mat_11:27). This is why the devout heart can rest and adore where the skeptic seeks in vain for rational explanations of a mystery beyond human understanding.
This picture of creation implies the unity of the divine nature. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (Joh_3:16). God’s thoughts are above ours. Our best human language is a poor vehicle for the expression of such wondrous truths. Christ is eternally the Son, yet truly the Begotten.
Creation is ascribed to the Son elsewhere: “Without him was not any thing made that was made” (Joh_1:3). “All things were created by him, and for him…and by him all things consist” (Col_1:16-17). He is superior to all creation because by Him the Father brought all things into being. Daily His Father’s delight, He shared in that display of power, always rejoicing in His presence (Pro_8:30). It is amazing grace that His delights were with the fallen sons of men. The love of His heart was set on those who did not deserve it (Pro_8:31). He speaks of the fallen sons of Adam-lost and guilty sinners.
Ere God had built the mountains,
Or raised the fruitful hills;
Before He filled the fountains,
That feed the running rills;
In Thee, from everlasting,
The wonderful I AM
Found pleasures never wasting,
And Wisdom is Thy name.
When, like a tent to dwell in,
He spread the skies abroad,
And swathed about the swelling
Of Ocean’s mighty flood,
He wrought by weight and measure;
And Thou wast with Him then:
Thyself the Father’s pleasure,
And Thine, the sons of men.
And couldst Thou be delighted
With creatures such as we,
Who, when we saw Thee, slighted
And nailed Thee to a tree?
And mystery divine!
The voice that speaks in thunder
Says, ‘Sinner, I am thine.’
The earnest request of these verses is based on Wisdom’s declaration of love for men. Those who refuse instruction and spurn understanding trample on divine affection and harden the heart against divine grace.
We are given strong incentives to heed the voice of Wisdom. They include blessing, life, and the loving favor of the Lord. The one who refuses to listen sins against his own soul and seals his own destruction.