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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Proverbs 8

 

 

Verse 1

VIII.

(n). Fourteenth Discourse:—The Praise of Wisdom (Proverbs 8)

(1) Doth not wisdom cry?—See above on Proverbs 1:20. In contrast with the secret allurements of Vice under the cover of night, is here represented the open invitation of Wisdom. (Comp. John 18:20 : “I spake openly to the world . . . and in secret have I said nothing.”)


Verse 2

(2) She standeth in the top of high places.—i.e., in the higher parts of the city, where her voice will best be heard.

By the way . . .—She goes everywhere where she may find the greatest concourse of people, “God not being willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). So the apostles made large centres of population such as Antioch, Ephesus, or Corinth, the headquarters of their missionary enterprise.


Verse 4

(4) O men—i.e., “great ones;” “sons of man” are those of inferior rank; comp. the Hebrew of Isaiah 2:9, where the same words are translated “great man,” and “mean man.” Comp. the generality of the invitation of Psalms 49:2.


Verse 5

(5) O ye simple.—See above on Proverbs 1:4 for an explanation of “simple,” as also of “wisdom” (‘ormah) there translated “subtilty.”

Ye fools.—(khesîlîm), see above on Proverbs 1:22.


Verse 6

(6) The opening of my lips shall be right things.—That is, I will open my mouth to speak them.


Verse 8

(8) Froward.—That is, twisted, or crooked.


Verse 9

(9) They are all plain . . .—Because “the secret of the Lord is (only) with them that fear Him “(Psalms 25:14), and God reveals such things unto them by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10), while the “natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him” (ibid., Proverbs 8:14).


Verse 11

(11) Rubies.—See above on Proverbs 3:15.


Verse 12

(12) Dwell with prudence.—(‘ormah), literally, inhabit it, have settled down and taken up my abode with it, am at home there.

Witty inventions.—Literally, well thought out plans (mezimmôth) translated “discretion” (Proverbs 1:4).


Verse 13

(13) The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.—Because there can never be any truce between the kingdoms of light and darkness (Matthew 6:24), so if we are the friend of one, we must be the enemy of the other.

Pride and arrogancy . . . do I hate.—See above on Proverbs 6:17.


Verse 14

(14) Sound wisdom.—See above on Proverbs 2:7.

Strength.—Comp. Ecclesiastes 7:19. For these various gifts of wisdom, comp. Isaiah 11:2.


Verse 15

(15) Princes.—Literally, men of weight, or, importance.


Verse 16

(16) All the judges of the earth.—By the aid of heavenly wisdom only can they give right and just judgments, and so fulfil the high office delegated to them by God Himself, from the possession of which they are themselves termed “gods” (Exodus 22:28; Psalms 82:1). For the same reason kings, as ruling by His authority, have the same title accorded to them (Psalms 45:6).


Verse 17

(17) I love them that love me.—Comp. John 14:21 : he that loveth me. . . . I will love him.


Verse 18

(18) Riches and honour are with me.—“If this passage is taken in a material sense, Psalms 112:3 and the promises in the Pentateuch of wealth as the reward of obedience might be compared with it. But doubtless the “true riches” (Luke 16:11) are here alluded to, the consciousness of possessing God’s honour and favour, called in Ephesians 3:8 the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”


Verse 19

(19) My fruit. . . . my revenue.—i.e., the gain and profit which come from possessing me.


Verse 20

(20) I lead in the way of righteousness.—Comp. Psalms 37:23; also a prayer for such guidance, Psalms 119:33; Psalms 143:8; and a promise of it Isaiah 30:21


Verse 21

(21) That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance.—The work which each one by my help shall do will be stored up for him in heaven (Matthew 6:20), it will be as “gold tried in the fire” (Revelation 3:18), which will abide the trial of “the day” (1 Corinthians 3:13).


Verse 22

(22) The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way.—The Hebrew word translated” possessed” in this passage (qânah) seems originally to have signified to” set up” or “establish,” and is applied (1) to the “forming” of the heavens (Genesis 14:19) and the “begetting” of a son, (Deuteronomy 32:6); next it signifies (2) to “acquire” (Genesis 4:1), (3) to “purchase” (Genesis 25:10), and (4) to “own,” as in Isaiah 1:3. From the fact that “set up” and “brought forth” are used just after as synonyms to it, it is most likely that (1) is the proper meaning of the word here, and that the sense of the passage is that Wisdom was “formed” or “begotten” before the Creation, comp. Psalms 104:24. This agrees with the rendering of the most important Greek translation, the Septuagint ( έκτισε). When in Christian times it was observed how well the description of Wisdom in Job and Proverbs harmonised with that of God the Son in the New Testament, such passages as this were universally applied to Him, and the present one was rightly interpreted as describing His eternal generation from the Father. Such was the view, for instance, of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. But when the Arian controversy arose, this phrase was seized upon by the opponents of our Lord’s Divinity, and claimed as teaching that He was, though the highest of created beings, still only a creature. The Catholics then changed their ground, some standing up for the rendering of Aquila, ἐκτήσατο (“acquired” or “possessed”), others applying the term έκτισε to Christ’s Incarnation (comp. “first-begotten among many brethren,” Romans 8:29), or to His being appointed to be the first principle or efficient cause of His creatures, the “beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). For references to the Fathers see Bishop Wordsworth’s note, and, for a like variation in the rendering of “first-begotten of every creature,” comp. Bishop Lightfoot’s note on Colossians 1:15.

In the beginning of his way.—That is, His way of acting, His activity in the Creation. But the preposition “in” does not occur in this passage, and from a comparison of Job 40:19, where behemoth (the hippopotamus) is termed the “beginning of the ways of God,” i.e., chief of His works, it is probable that this verse should be translated, “He brought me forth as the beginning of His way, as the earliest of His works from of old,” i.e., before the depths, and mountains, and hills, &c


Verse 23

(23) I was set up.—An unusual word; also applied to our Lord in Psalms 2:6 when “set” as King on Zion.


Verse 24

(24) I was brought forth.—i.e., born. The same word is used in Psalms 51:5 (7), and Job 15:7.


Verse 26

(26) The earth.—i.e., the cultivated and enclosed part of it.

The fields.—The open country.

The highest part of the dust of the world. Literally, “the head of the dusts of the fertile earth” i.e. the heaps of the clods of arable land, or better perhaps, “the sum of the atoms of dust.” Some refer to Genesis 2:7, and interpret the words of man, as formed out of the dust.


Verse 27

(27) When he set a compass upon the face of the depth—i.e., when He stretched the vault of heaven over it: the same expression is used in Job 22:14. It is also interpreted of the circle of the horizon.


Verse 28

(28) When he established the clouds above.—Literally, made firm; comp. Genesis 1:6.

When he strengthened the fountains of the deep.—More probably, when they flowed forth with strength.


Verse 29

(29) When he gave to the sea his decree . . .—Compare the same thoughts in Job 38:4; Job 38:10-11.


Verse 30

(30) As one brought up with him—i.e., his foster child; as Mordecai “brought up” Esther (Esther 2:7). But the word may also bear the sense of “artificer.” It probably occurs in this meaning in Jeremiah 52:15 (though translated “multitude,” in accordance with 2 Kings 25:11), and in a slightly different form, Song of Solomon 7:1. This meaning is much more suitable, and harmonises with Psalms 104:24; Psalms 136:5, and Hebrews 1:2.

I was daily his delight.—The pronoun “his” does not occur in the Hebrew, which is, literally, I was delights, i.e., all joy, delight, as Psalms 109:4 : “I am prayer,” i.e., give myself wholly to it. The words express the joy with which Wisdom carried out the work of God.

Rejoicing always before him.—The same expression is used in 2 Samuel 6:21 by David (there translated “play”), to describe his “leaping and dancing before the Lord.”


Verse 31

(31) Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth.—Rather, the fertile part. (Comp. Genesis 1:31, where the satisfaction of God with His creation is described; and Psalms 104:31.)

My delights were with the sons of men.—Or rather, in them. (Comp. Genesis 3:8, where it would seem that the “Lord God” had been in the habit of assuming human form, and admitting man to His presence.) Such appearances as this, and that to Abraham in Genesis 18, and to Joshua in Joshua 5, were supposed by the Fathers to have been anticipations of the Incarnation of God the Son, who is here described under the name of Wisdom.


Verse 32

(32) Now therefore hearken—i.e., now that ye know how great my power is, and what love I have to you, in that I rejoice in you, and call you my sons. (Comp. 1 John 3:1.)


Verse 34

(34) Watching daily at my gates.—A figure taken from an ardent scholar waiting till the doors of the school are opened, and he can begin his studies. Or it represents a courtier expecting the appearance of his sovereign, or a lover that of his mistress. (Comp. Wisdom of Solomon 8:2.)


Verse 35

(35) Whoso findeth me findeth life.—Comp. 1 John 5:12; John 8:51; and above, Proverbs 3:18, where Wisdom is described as a “tree of life.”


Verse 36

(36) He that sinneth against me.—Rather, He that misses me does not find me. So in Greek, sin ( ἁμαρτία) is a “missing” of the true object of life.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 8:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-8.html. 1905.

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