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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Proverbs 8



Verses 1-5

Wisdom as guide8:1-5

By personifying wisdom Solomon was able to illustrate two things about it in these verses, both of which concern the guidance that is available in wisdom (understanding, insight). Wisdom is available everywhere ( Proverbs 8:2-3) and to anyone ( Proverbs 8:5). It does not take a superior intellect to be wise in the biblical sense.

Verses 1-36

13. The function of wisdom ch8

Chapter8 is an apology (defense) of wisdom. The argument of this section develops as follows. Wisdom would be every person"s guide ( Proverbs 8:1-5; cf. Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:22-23). She is morality"s partner ( Proverbs 8:6-13), the key to success ( Proverbs 8:14-21), the principle of creation ( Proverbs 8:22-31), and the one essential necessity of life ( Proverbs 8:32-36). Chapter8 contains the longest sustained personification in the Bible. [Note: Merrill, p490.]

Verses 6-13

Wisdom and morality8:6-13

Wisdom and godliness are practically synonymous (cf. Proverbs 1:7). Proverbs 8:9 means that the person who already has walked down wisdom"s path for a distance can appreciate the moral rightness of wisdom better than someone who has not.

"What the verse says is not that Wisdom"s words are clear, intelligible, simple to the instructed, but that they commend themselves as true . . ." [Note: Toy, p163.]

"The simplicity of integrity is the profundity of wisdom.... Integrity is the moral dimension that separates wisdom from intelligence, learning and cleverness." [Note: Larsen, p73.]

True wisdom is resourceful and discreet ( Proverbs 8:13). This pericope speaks of the essential excellence of wisdom.

Verses 14-21

Wisdom and success8:14-21

Wisdom is the key to many material and immaterial benefits, but mostly the latter type. Wisdom is better than gold in two senses: the wise man is able to earn gold, but he is able to use wisdom to do more than he can with gold. Yet wisdom is available only to those who seek it; unlike gold, wisdom is not something one can inherit.

Verses 22-31

Wisdom and creation8:22-31

As Creator, God counted wisdom most important. Wisdom is older than the universe, and it was essential in its creation. Nothing came into existence without wisdom. Wisdom leads to joy because creation produces joy ( Proverbs 8:30-31) both for the Creator and for the creature. God made and did nothing without wisdom. Therefore it is very important that we obtain it. That is the point.

"What has the voice of wisdom to say concerning the integration debate in Christian counseling? The wisdom literature of the Old Testament invites the study of human nature, behavior, and change from sources outside the canon of Scripture as well as in Scripture itself. Wisdom also exemplifies the use of methods that neither emerge exegetically from the Bible nor utilize the words of Scripture itself. Even when Scripture is used, wisdom often dictates which texts are most appropriate for a given situation and how application needs to take shape. At the same time, wise counselors recognize that the Bible is the only perfect authority for guiding faith and practice. Since the essence of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, a heart of adoration and submission to God is the foundation for skillful living, especially in the face of life"s most severe experiences. Not only in counseling, but in all aspects of life, wisdom calls for a deeper reverence for God in conforming one"s life to the Creator"s design." [Note: John W. Hilber, "Old Testament Wisdom and the Integration Debate in Christian Counseling," Bibliotheca Sacra155:620 (October-December1998):422.]

"The beginning of God"s way" ( Proverbs 8:22) probably refers to the beginning of His creative work ( Genesis 1), since that is what Solomon described in the verses that follow. [Note: See Hans-Jurgen Hermission, "Observations on the Creation Theology in Wisdom of Solomon ," in Israelite Wisdom: Theological and Literary Essays in Honor of Samuel Terrien, pp43-47 , 54-55.] Wisdom always existed as an attribute of God. [Note: William A. Irwin, "Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?" Journal of Biblical Literature80 (1961):142.] Proverbs 8:30 pictures wisdom as God"s constant and intimate companion. As such we should value it highly. One writer concluded that wisdom is a link or bond between the Creator and His creation. [Note: R. B. Y. Scott, "Wisdom in Creation: The "AMON of Proverbs VII:30 ," Vetus Testamentum10 (1960):211-23.]

Verses 32-36

The appeal to gain Wisdom of Solomon 8:32-36

On the basis of all that precedes, Solomon exhorted his sons to live by his words and thereby gain wisdom. Again, wisdom leads to life, but those who lack wisdom begin to die.

"Many have equated wisdom in this chapter with Jesus Christ. This connection works only so far as Jesus reveals the nature of God the Father, including his Wisdom of Solomon , just as Proverbs presents the personification of the attribute. Jesus" claims included wisdom ( Matthew 12:42) and a unique knowledge of God ( Matthew 11:25-27). He even personified wisdom in a way that was similar to Proverbs ( Matthew 11:19; Luke 11:49). Paul saw the fulfillment of wisdom in Christ ( Colossians 1:15-20; Colossians 2:3) and affirmed that Christ became our wisdom in the Crucifixion ( 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30). So the bold personification of wisdom in Proverbs certainly provides a solid foundation for the revelation of divine wisdom in Christ. But because wisdom appears to be a creation of God in Proverbs 8:22-31, it is unlikely that wisdom here is Jesus Christ." [Note: Ross, p943.]


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 8:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

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