This is part eight in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of this study is to learn what God has to say in this book about wisdom and discernment. Yesterday I learned that wisdom is to complement, not contradict, God’s laws to form a pure, godly life. I am to guard my heart against sin, realizing that once my heart has turned, my mind and body will follow.
Proverbs 8 is an incredible poem that personifies wisdom as a teacher. Where in previous chapters the teacher has usually been a father instructing his children, we now see wisdom as the supreme teacher.
In the first eleven verses wisdom cries out at the top of the hills, the crossroads and the gates of the city, crying for simple people to learn prudence and fools to learn sense. She will share what is noble and right and true. She has no choice but to speak truth for foolishness is incompatible with wisdom and would be an abomination to her lips. She tells me to seek her more than gold and more than jewels, for nothing I can obtain in this world can compare to her value.
In verses 12 to 21 wisdom shows her effects on the world. She speaks of the fear of the Lord. “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” The hatred of evil is the love of wisdom. If I search to find a truth that is based on experience I will be led astray by my own pride and arrogance. To know the fear of the Lord I need to first know wisdom.
Human rulers are to use wisdom to carry out the offices they have been appointed by God, for by wisdom “rulers decree what is just; … princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.” Justice proceeds naturally from wisdom. Just as a life of godliness is premised on wisdom, so properly carrying out an office depends on understanding wisdom.
Again we see that it is my responsibility to seek out wisdom and if I do so she will by no means turn me away for she loves those who love her. And as we saw in earlier chapters, the normal reward for a life of wisdom is material blessings. Solomon, as author of this passage and one of the richest men in all of human history, could understand this well and could ascribe his wealth to his wisdom.
Verses 22 to 31 show that wisdom existed before the creation of the world and formed the basis for Creation. “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.” God is the source of wisdom and necessarily possesses perfect wisdom for it issues forth from Him. Before he began His act of creation he perfectly planned it. This passage forms such an awesome testament to the wisdom of the Creator:
The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
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,
then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.
The final five verses form a final exhortation for me to heed wisdom’s call. Wisdom goes so far as to equate herself with life, saying “whoever finds me finds life.” A life lived to the full will be a life lived with wisdom. I cannot be truly alive without being engaged in the continual search for wisdom. This search will allow me to obtain favor from the Lord. Conversely, if I continue to sin and reject wisdom, I turn my back on God, hating wisdom and showing my love for the foolishness that leads to death.
My prayer is that my life would be a continual search for and growth in wisdom; that I would “listens to [wisdom], watching daily at [her] gates, waiting beside [her] doors.”
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the eighth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- Wisdom and foolishness are incompatible. Wisdom is unable to express perversity or foolishness.
- Earthly rulers are to use wisdom to form the basis of their judgments as it forms the basis for justice.
- Wisdom existed in its perfect form with God before the earth was formed and was present in the planning and creative process of Creation.
- To truly live requires the search for wisdom, for it allows me to obtain God’s favor. To reject wisdom is to lead myself on the path to death.