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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 8

 

 

Verses 1-36

Proverbs 8:1. Doth not Wisdom cry? This woman is the reverse of the harlot, in the preseding chapter. She represents true religion clothed in every form of grace and glory: Christ, the Word and Wisdom of God. See on chap. 3.

Proverbs 8:3. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city. The gate was the usual place where the elders sat at proper times, and heard complaints. It is probable that the prophets often addressed the people in the area of the gate. Jeremiah delivered his prediction of the invasion of the Assyrians at the “horsegate.”

But who is this illustrious woman, bearing the appellation of Wisdom? It is in rhetoric a figure called prósopopæia, the essential, eternal, and uncreated Wisdom of God personified. This wisdom has also been expounded to be the law, the holy scriptures, which are able to make us wise to salvation. And again, the Messiah, the Christ, the wisdom and power of God, his person and his ministry, designated in the acts of crying and preaching. How sublimely is the true wisdom introduced,—teaching the nations, and commanding assent. She opens righteousness and life; she unveils immortality, to reclaim the mind from the vanities of the present world. Her lips speak the truth, her ministry is like a sunbeam, chasing before it the darkness of the present age. She presides in the councils of princes, dictates laws salubrious and wise, and leads nations to glory and honour.

Proverbs 8:15. Princes decree justice. Hebrews רזנים roznim, counsellors, the king’s ministers.

Proverbs 8:16. By me princes rule. Hebrews שׁרים sherim, rulers, or chiefs of the people.

Proverbs 8:17. I love them that love me. This matron from heaven casts encouraging regards on lovely youths, shocked at the horrors of vice, and desirous of finding the truth. Those whose judgments are gained by the glory of celestial doctrine, and whose hearts are touched with the drawings of grace; those who seek with contrite hearts, with intensity of mind, and watch and wait more than they who watch for the morning. To these belong the promise, those that seek me early shall find me. Not only those who seek in early years, but those who make religion their first and grand concern. They shall find their darkness and their fears chased away; the cheering rays of the sun of righteousness, the love of God shall be shed abroad in their heart, and their souls shall exult in the joys of remission. Oh what a contrast between the disciples of wisdom, and the victims of the harlot. Glory and virtue attend the one, while the shades and horrors of hell hide and overwhelm the other.

Proverbs 8:21. I will fill their treasures, with corn and wine, with gold and silver, with every blessing of the covenant. This is the double portion of temporal and spiritual good, everywhere promised and understood as the heritage of the righteous. Psalms 112.

Proverbs 8:22. The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way. Hebrews קנני kanani, he created me, he possessed me. The latter acceptation is here the true reading, as is evident from Genesis 4:1. Eve exclaimed, on the birth of Cain, kaniti, I have gotten a man from the Lord. Now Eve did not create, but possessed her son. So is the sense of the new-testament assertions, that Christ is the word, the wisdom, and power of God. He is the only-begotten in the bosom of the Father. His words are, “I and my Father are one: as the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father.” But the LXX having translated the text, εκτισε με, created me, which is evidently the wrong acceptation, both here and in Sirach 24., Arius contended that “if the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence; from which it is apparent that there was a time when the Son was not; from which this is a plain consequence, that he derived his existence from nothing;—that being a creature, he was liable to change;—and that, had it not been for our sakes, Christ had never existed.” These are the bold words of Arius, and of the Socinians.

Against these, and all such allegations, it was in vain that Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, affirmed, that no paternity could be added to the Father, and no filiation could be added to the Son. In vain did he allege that the Son was begotten before the womb of the morning, Psalms 110:3; that his goings forth were of old from everlasting, Micah 5:2; that he is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person; that he who hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father; and that Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Arius presently had a dozen presbyters and bishops to espouse his cause. The eastern churches were shook to their centre, yet they could not shake the rock on which the church is built, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. The issues were, that nearly a hundred bishops and presbyters assembled in council at Alexandria, and deposed Arius and his adherents. After awhile the emperor Constantine convened three hundred and eighteen bishops and presbyters at Nice, a city on the Asiatic shore, near Constantinople; and all of them, excepting five, drew up and subscribed the Nicene creed, That Christ is God of God, Light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.

Those three hundred and eighteen bishops comprised every thing in the church which was venerable in age, illustrious in wisdom and virtue, and that could hand down to us the christian faith, as once delivered to the saints. They were spiritually the grandchildren of the apostles, and apostolic men. There is neither doubt, nor shadow of doubt, but that the Omoousion faith, that the Son is one substance with the Father, was the faith of the whole primitive church. So are their sweet and most delightful hymns, sung in the church from the beginning, and cited about the year 200 by Clemens of Alexandria.

λογος αεναος, The Word perennial, αιων απλετος, To ages infinite, φος αιδιον. The Light eternal.

Proverbs 8:23. I was set up from everlasting. Hebrews מעולם mai-ôlam, ab eternitate. Psalms 90:2, and Micah 5:2, agree with this. When the word is used of God, or his attributes, it properly designates eternity.

Proverbs 8:27. When he prepared the heavens, I was there. The words in Psalms 102:25 are similar, which an apostle has applied to Christ. Hebrews 1:10. John 1:3.

Proverbs 8:31. My delights were with the sons of men. He who appeared to the patriarchs was the Christ, the wisdom, the word of God. On this head, the christian fathers are agreed. Read their works, and study their apologies for the christian religion. See extracts, fair and faithful extracts from their writings, in bishop Bull’s defence of the faith of the Nicene fathers, as above.

The testimony of heathen writers is in perfect accordance with this faith. Their mythology is built on the traditions, that the gods appeared to their fathers. The temples in China, in India, in Egypt, in Greece, in the Gothic nations, on this head, speak one language.

Proverbs 8:32. Now therefore hearken unto me. I who made you have a right to teach you. He who sins against me wrongs his own soul. He who hates me loves death.

Proverbs 8:35. Whoso findeth me findeth life. Length of days is in her right hand: Proverbs 3:16. But is this all that is here to be understood? If so, many wicked men attain great age. Those commentators who, admitting the divinity of Christ, declare that this chapter is a mere personification of Wisdom, and has no reference to Him, are not entitled to serious refutation. (1) They admit that the Wisdom here personified is divine; therefore the life that flows from it must be divine; that is, it must be spiritual and eternal life. (2) What is here affirmed of wisdom is strictly true of Christ, the Word and the Wisdom of the Father; but it is not true, except in relation to Him. No finding of man, no discoveries of divine wisdom, nor of any other perfection of the Deity, can give life to man, except in Christ Jesus. “Our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29. (3) Hence the true and only effectual personification of the divine wisdom, is the WISDOM INCARNATE. Whatever perfections of God are personified in scripture, they all relate to and are exemplified in Christ; and that not by any fanciful accommodation, but by direct allusion and application of Him who inspired the scriptures. “The scriptures,” said the Saviour, “testify of me,” John 5:39; and, “to Him give all the prophets witness.” Acts 10:43. It is sufficiently ridiculous to hear men abusing the fathers for their uniform application of this chapter to Christ; and professing to take high protestant ground, and to stand on the scriptures alone in a matter in which the fathers do but follow the apostles, all of whom saw the scriptures, both of the old and the new testament, to be full of Christ.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 8:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/proverbs-8.html. 1835.

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