Wisdom Calls

Text: Proverbs 8:1-36

Wisdom can’t be missed

(Proverbs 8:1-3)

We return to the same points introduced in Proverbs 1:20ff. In chapter 1 we saw a juxtaposition of gangs and Wisdom so we might notice the difference in their operations. Here, too, is juxtaposition, but this one is between the seductress and Wisdom.

Wisdom isn’t easily overlooked. She is doing everything she can to be noticed (Deuteronomy 30:11). The teachings of truth are spoken openly (Hebrews 12:25).

Wisdom teaches straightforward truth

(Proverbs 8:4-11)

Wisdom’s message is for every human being. The simple are invited to learn to think ahead (prudence). The fools are invited to learn. Notice that in order for the simple to think ahead, they must give up being simple-minded. In order for a fool to learn wisdom, he must stop being a fool.

Proverbs 8:6-9 forms an introverted (nested) list of two styles. The outer levels are synonymous comparisons. The inner levels are antithetic comparisons.

Listen, for I will speak noble things;
And the opening of my lips will reveal right things.

For my mouth will utter truth;
And wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness;
There is nothing crooked or perverted in them.

They are all straightforward to him who understands,
And right to those who find knowledge."

What wisdom has to offer are noble things worthy to hear. She teaches what is right and true, and never what is evil because those things are disgusting to her. These are things Christians are commanded to speak (Ephesians 4:25, 29). This should be expected since the source of wisdom is God (Proverbs 2:6).

Interestingly, what wisdom offer is not complex. Truth is plain and understandable when the person makes an effort to learn (Psalms 119:98-100). Wisdom is straightforward and not perverse or crooked.

The conclusion is that instruction, knowledge, and wisdom are more valuable than wealth, so much more valuable they can’t be compared.

For discussion:

  1. Why do some people find truth hard and difficult to understand?
  2. What can you gain with wisdom that you can’t purchase with money?
  3. Can you use wisdom to improve your financial situation?
  4. Does having wealth make you wise?

What comes with wisdom

(Proverbs 8:12-21)

Wisdom is not an isolated subject. Those who learn wisdom naturally also pick up prudence -- the ability to think through situations in advance. They also gain knowledge and insight into truth. Those who are wise show discretion – the ability to make good choices. Thus, wisdom is a package deal.

In Proverbs 1:7 we learned that the fear of the Lord was the beginning of knowledge. In Proverbs 8:13 we are presented with its antithesis: The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. This is because there is no evil in God (I John 1:5). Therefore, the things wisdom teaches contain nothing that is wrong: pride, arrogance, evil ways, or perversion. Wisdom hates these evil things, thus it is implied that wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Wisdom has advice, solid and substantial wisdom, reason, and power. To prove her point, it is by wisdom that government operates and justice is served.

But to have wisdom, you have to desire it and diligently seek wisdom. She isn’t impossible to find, but you have to put in the effort to gain wisdom.

And it is worth the effort because with wisdom comes riches and honor. It isn’t like the wealth of the wicked whose plunder may disappear at any moment. This is wealth that endures (Matthew 6:19-21). This is because wisdom is the way of righteousness and justice. Those who follow wisdom gain true wealth in abundance. It is inherited wealth and not earned wealth.

Wisdom is old and powerful

(Proverbs 8:22-31)

Wisdom has always been one of God’s tools, even before His works were started. Thus, wisdom is eternal. She is older than the world and was present when the universe was created. Wisdom was used to create the world. And wisdom continues in God’s joy of the world He made. Thus, this section shows a progression of time. This section forms a poem of great complexity with several ideas interwoven. A key point to take from this section is that the world is not random – it was carefully designed and that design reflects the wisdom of the Maker (Psalms 19:1; Romans 1:20-21).

Proverbs 8:30-31 forms a short introverted poem:

“Then I was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.”

The benefits of listening and the dangers of not listening

(Proverbs 8:32-36)

Having proven that wisdom is worth listening to, she points out that those who follow wisdom are blessed. We need to learn from wisdom and become wise. Learning cannot be passive, we have to want it and look for it patiently.

Proverbs 8:32-36 forms a complex poem of synonyms and antonyms.

"Now therefore, O sons, listen to me,
For blessed are they who keep my ways.
Heed instruction and be wise,
And do not neglect it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.
For he who finds me finds life
And obtains favor from the LORD.
But he who sins against me injures himself;
All those who hate me love death."

The first line sets the theme: “O sons, listen to me.” The next three lines define what it means to listen. Listening is:

  • Keeping Wisdom’s ways
  • Heeding instruction
  • Not neglecting it

The next three lines tell us the proper attitude and behavior:

  • Listening
  • Watching
  • Waiting

The results of listening with the proper attitude are blessings.

Finally, Proverbs 8:35-36 forms a small introversion. You either find wisdom, thereby gaining life and favor from God or you hate wisdom, thereby gaining death and injuring yourself. There is no middle ground you are either for God or against Him (Matthew 12:30).

For discussion:

1.         Contrast the seductress and wisdom.

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