By Sam E. Stone
After today we will be studying the Gospel of John each week during this quarter. There Jesus is presented as the one who holds the answer to all of life’s questions. Today’s text from Proverbs provides the backdrop for our future study.
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon describes wisdom as if it were a person. In this poetic way he explains both its characteristics and source. Using personal terms he sets forth the characteristics of wisdom. Proverbs 8 begins, “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?” (v. 1). Wisdom is personified, shown like one trying to get the attention of all who pass by. No one is overlooked in wisdom’s effort to reach and bless every individual (v. 31).
At prominent places where one might travel, wisdom is seen asking for a hearing (v. 20). Each individual must choose which voice he will heed. The simple person (v. 5) is open to any and every influence. He is immature and inexperienced. With understanding comes the ability to distinguish between what is right and wrong. Solomon himself had prayed for just such a discerning heart (1 Kings 3:9).
The entire 8th chapter of Proverbs offers insights on the value and effects of wisdom. The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works. Wisdom speaks of its role in creation. The qualities of wisdom described here are true in the highest sense of the Word that became flesh, God’s Son (John 1:1-14). Similar language is used to describe Christ elsewhere in the New Testament as well (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:2, 3).
I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. Here again is a description appropriate to Jesus. The psalmist speaks of the Messiah’s being “installed on Zion” (Psalm 2:6). Micah explained that Christ’s “origins are from of old, from ancient times,” literally “from days of eternity” (Micah 5:2). Jesus himself declared his eternal relationship with the Father (John 17:5).
Various poetic pictures are included to help the reader understand wisdom’s role. Before the rivers were brought forth (Job 15:7) and the mountains came (Psalm 90:2), wisdom was there. Wisdom is part of God’s nature, with him throughout eternity.
I was there when he set the heavens in place. Wisdom was present when God created the world. He “founded the world by his wisdom” (Jeremiah 10:12). The fountains of the deep is an expression used also by Moses to describe the fountains and springs of the earth (Genesis 7:11). He gave the sea its boundary refers to the Lord’s gathering the waters at the time of creation (Genesis 1:9).
Wisdom recalls, I was the craftsman at his side. This suggests a skillful, experienced worker, a master of his trade (Exodus 31:3). I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence. Wisdom rejoiced fully in the results of the Lord’s creative energy. Man, made in the very image of God, is the pinnacle of creation (Genesis 1:26). God himself pronounced the results of his labor “good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12).
In verses 22-31 wisdom has been shown worthy and desirable because of her “mediating place between God and the world” (Keil). Wisdom now exhorts those who hear to find and treasure what wisdom has to offer. Wisdom is as eternal as the Lord himself.
Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Wisdom demands to be heard and obeyed. Her children should pay close attention to the message. We are foolish if we do not listen (Proverbs 18:13; 4:1). Wisdom’s invitation continues just as urgently today. The Christian can claim the wonderful promise recorded by James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
One additional promise is included. Whoever finds me finds life. Earlier wisdom has been described as a “tree of life” (Proverbs 3:18). This calls to mind the tree of life that first existed in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9) and now is available in Heaven for all of the redeemed of the ages (Revelation 22:2). Wisdom’s role prepares us for Jesus Christ himself—the living Word—the one who is the way, the truth, and the life (John14:6).
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.