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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 8

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. VIII.

The fame, and evidence of wisdom. The excellency, the nature, the power, the riches, and the eternity of wisdom. Wisdom is to be desired for the blessedness that it bringeth.


Verse 1

Proverbs 8:1. Doth not wisdom cry, &c.— We may consider this chapter as connected with the preceding, and making one continued discourse. The wise man has represented in what goes before, the dangerous seductions of pleasure, in the language of an adulterous woman. Here he describes wisdom inviting us to her love, in a noble, grand, elevated discourse, and by magnificent promises of the most solid advantages. From the 1st verse to the 12th she commends her doctrine and precepts; from the 12th to the 32nd she extols her divine and excellent works; and from the 32nd to the end, she invites to the search of her by the view of the richest recompences. Some of the ancient fathers who have written against the Arians, and many of the most able and pious moderns, understand by this eternal wisdom the second person of the Divine Trinity; so as to apply some part of the attributes of this wisdom to the divinity, and some to the humanity of the Son of God. See Calmet.


Verse 2

Proverbs 8:2. By the way, &c.— Upon the way, within, or amidst the paths. The LXX read, She hath stood in the middle of the paths.


Verse 10

Proverbs 8:10. Receive my instruction, and not silver Rather than silver; that is to say, preferably to silver; or it may be, "Give not your heart to money, if you would possess wisdom." It is impossible to join these two things, the love of this world, and the love of wisdom.


Verse 12

Proverbs 8:12. And find out knowledge of witty inventions And penetrate the knowledge of right things. Schultens; who observes, that the first clause contains a very splendid image, "I wisdom inhabit prudence." So Jehovah is said to inhabit eternity. Calmet says, that the last clause, according to the Hebrew, is, And have invented the knowledge of thoughts; or of prudence, of reflection, of the judicious attention of wise men. It is the eternal wisdom which speaks here. It is she from whom proceed all the lights, and all the knowledge of the wise; all that is true and useful in the understanding and inventions of the human spirit; but, above all, the sciences which tend to holiness and virtue, and which have God for their end.


Verse 14

Proverbs 8:14. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom Good government: Houbigant; who renders the next clause, Prudence is mine; mine is fortitude.


Verse 15

Proverbs 8:15. By me kings reign All authority and power come from God; and all those who are established over others have received from the author of this wisdom all their superiority. Whether God gives a prince in his anger, or in his mercy, it is he who hath established him; nor can they worthily exercise their power without the succours and assistance of wisdom. A prince may be a prince without having wisdom; but without it, he can neither be a good nor a happy prince. Wisdom is the very first of royal qualities. "The best and most excellent present which God can give to men, is a just and virtuous prince, and one like himself:" Nullum est praestabilius et pulchrius Dei munus erga mortales, quam castus, sanctus, et Deo smillimus princeps, says Pliny in his Panegyric of Trajan.


Verse 17

Proverbs 8:17. I love them that love me In order to seek for wisdom with the earnestness that she merits, we must know her, and love her: we must by our continual prayers seek for this excellent good, and intreat God to increase in us the love of wisdom, holiness, and virtue; because, in proportion as this love increases, wisdom will more abundantly communicate herself to us; and the more early in life we begin this search, the more shall we engage the love, and consequently the encouragement, of this divine and blessed monitor.


Verse 22

Proverbs 8:22. The Lord possessed me in the beginning All this, says Calmet, respects the Eternal Wisdom, the Word of the Father. This verse is very similar to John 1:1. The LXX render it, He created me the beginning of his ways; which many interpreters refer to the Incarnate wisdom. The word which Calmet renders, from the LXX, created, is εκτισε, which may certainly as well signify, agreeably to the Hebrew and Aquila, He possessed, or established, or ordained, or created.


Verse 23

Proverbs 8:23. I was set up from everlasting According to the Hebrew, I have been anointed from all eternity; which is particularly applicable to Jesus Christ, the anointed of the Father.


Verse 26

Proverbs 8:26. Highest part Sum, or first atom. Schultens.


Verse 30

Proverbs 8:30. As one brought up with him The Hebrew signifies, As one co-operating, or working with him. This sense is favoured by the LXX, who read, I was harmonizing, or disposing things together with him. The French render it, I was with him and regulated all things. The expression in the next clause denotes the facility, the pleasure, the address of the Almighty work-master, and of Wisdom, by whom, and with whom he created all things; and the admirable variety of the works of nature, where the wisdom of the Creator appears to have rejoiced with so much order and beauty. See Calmet.


Verse 31

Proverbs 8:31. My delights were with the sons of men The wisdom of God communicated itself to men, preferably to all other sensible creatures here below; having given to them alone intelligence, and a soul capable of the illumination of prudence, and the practice of holiness and virtue. The Son of God, the Eternal Wisdom abundantly proved his delight to be with the sons of men, when for their instruction and salvation he took upon him a human form. See Baruch 3:37. Calmet.


Verse 35

Proverbs 8:35. And shall obtain favour Wisdom is the salvation, the happiness, the life of men. All these attributes apply admirably to Jesus Christ. We observe from this chapter, that if it be at all to be understood of the Son of God, which the ancient Arians believed, and of which I have no doubt, then not only his eternity is here most plainly asserted, but also his distinct substance and personality. See Proverbs 8:22; Proverbs 8:30. The practical lessons to be learned from hence are, first, that it is a vain pretence which we make to wisdom, if the fear of God and true holiness be wanting. Secondly, the whole chapter supposes, and the last verse more particularly expresses, that every man's death and destruction is from himself who wrongs his own soul, and that against the desire and earnest importunities of the wisdom of God. See Bishop Patrick.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, When Jesus came to teach poor mortals the way to life eternal, a voice from the Excellent Glory proclaimed, This is my beloved Son; hear him. Let, therefore, every ear attend the divine instructions which he condescends to give.

1. His words are publicly proclaimed in the places of chief concourse, that whosoever will, may come and learn of him. Thus Jesus in the days of his flesh preached openly on mountains, in the city, at the gates of the temple; and his prophets of old, his apostles and evangelists, went forth publishing his word and gospel through the land. All are addressed; high and low, rich and poor; and the fools and simple, the fallen sinful sons of men, whose understanding is darkened, are invited to come, and find wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in him. Note; The gospel excludes none who do not exclude themselves. If sinners perish for lack of knowledge, it is because they would not come to him, that they might have life.

2. The importance of the subject demands our most serious attention. The things spoken of are excellent; the doctrines of grace, the person, offices, and undertaking of the Redeemer, and the inestimable blessings obtained thereby; the knowledge of God and an eternal world, with all the glories there provided for wisdom's children. They are right, most becoming in God to command, and most fit for us to obey.

They are doctrines of truth, they concern him who is the truth, and cannot deceive; for WICKEDNESS is an abomination to his lips: and, as lying is his abhorrence, it should be also ours. All his words are in righteousness, perfectly corresponding thereunto. There is nothing froward or perverse in them, but the most entire harmony and suitableness. They are plain, and easy to be understood by all whose minds are spiritually enlightened, and really desire without prejudice to come to the sacred oracles of truth for information; though to the wisest scholar, a stranger to divine teaching, they are foolishness and darkness; and right to them that find knowledge, who readily submit to the dictates of wisdom, and approve of the perfect path that God's word points out to them. They are preferable to the riches of both the Indies, more desirable than gold and silver, or rubies, and all the delights of the sons of men. And in proportion as we have learned Christ, and been taught of him, in such measure will our hearts be weaned from all inordinate delight in earthly things, and count them dung and loss, compared with the excellency of the knowledge of him and his truth.

2nd, Thus speaks he, like unto whom never man spake. His own glory and excellence are the subject; and we may truly say, He is the chief of ten thousand, and altogether lovely.

1. In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I wisdom, the essential wisdom, the all-wise God, dwell with prudence, possess it in all its fulness, and find out knowledge of witty inventions; either detect the devices of the crafty, and search into the hearts of the children of men; or the inventions here spoken of relate to the astonishing contrivance of the covenant of grace, wherein all the perfections of God, his free grace and inexorable justice, inviolable truth, and boundless mercy, are so eminently displayed, and so highly magnified; and wherein the miserable sinner beholds in Jesus Christ a holy God, righteous and just in forgiving his sins.

2. He hath a perfect hatred of sin; and all who are taught of him abhor the thing which is evil. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; this is the constant effect produced wherever that fear is implanted, and this because God hates it. Pride and arrogancy, high thoughts of ourselves and services, he abhors. The evil way, sin of every kind, and the froward mouth, which speaks in violence or rage, do I hate. If we are spiritually proud, and our passions and frowardness unmortified, we are not wisdom's children, but of our father the devil.

3. In him resides all wisdom and strength in perfection for the government of all things; and out of his fulness must we in every station receive wisdom and power for all the work and duty to which he calls us. By him ordained, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, his vicegerents upon earth, kings, princes, and judges, are commissioned to bear rule; and resistance against their lawful authority is rebellion against God. He can endue them with capacities for their high station; and they then rule well, when their own hearts are brought under the guidance and government of his word and Spirit.

4. He will shew all affection and favour to those who love and seek him. I love them that love me; and they that seek me early, with eagerness, or in the morning of youth, or the accepted time, shall find me, and therewith every blessing of grace and glory.

5. He hath all riches and honour to bestow, as much as is for their good in this world; and with what peculiar satisfaction, that they are obtained in righteousness under the divine blessing. But rather the riches of grace, and the honour which cometh from God are intended; riches which are durable, not like the perishing substance of earth, but incorruptible, in the heavens; and honours transcendently great, and abiding to eternity; possessed in virtue of the infinite merit of Jesus, the great meritorious cause of all our present and eternal happiness. My fruit is better than gold, yea than fine gold; the fruits of his undertaking for us; such as redemption, reconciliation, adoption, &c. the fruits of his Spirit in us, love, joy, peace, &c. compared with these, the glittering tinsel of this world's wealth vanishes into nothing, and is less than nothing, and vanity.

6. He guides his followers in the paths of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; neither deviating from it to the right hand nor to the left, that he may bring them to an inheritance in glory; and gives those that love him mansions in the skies, filled with all the treasures of immortal bliss. Happy, for ever happy, the souls that he leads in these blessed paths, and brings, as inheritors of his kingdom, to the thrones provided for them in heaven.

3rdly, That not a quality, but a person, is here meant under the character of wisdom, is evident; for to such alone can these properties be ascribed; and that person is the eternal Son of God. Compare John 1:1-4. We have,

1. His eternal co-existence with the father. In person distinct, in essence the same. In the beginning, before the earth had a being, before ever the mountains rose, or the waters retired to the bottom of the deep, the Lord possessed me, in that mysterious union which subsists between the divine persons in the Godhead. I was set up from everlasting, as the wisdom of the Father and the Word of God.

2. His agency in the creation of all things; for by him God made the worlds, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Ephesians 3:9. Hebrews 1:2. In each day's work he was present, not as a spectator merely, but as the great agent; and was first the Creator of all things, before he became incarnate for the redemption of sinners.

3. He was his Father's delight; brought up with him: from everlasting the relation subsisted, co-eternal, and co-equal; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; which may refer to the fulness of delight subsisting mutually between the sacred persons in the ever-blessed Trinity; or to the complacence of the Father in the Son, and of both in the work of creation, whereof they expressed their approbation, Genesis 1:31 or to their satisfaction in the great work of man's redemption, God the Father being well-pleased in the Saviour's undertaking, and God the Son rejoicing to fulfil the work which the Father had given him to do.

4. Toward the sons of men he entertained the most enlarged affection, rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth, bestowing upon all, in rich profusion, the bounties of his providence, and the offers of his grace; and his delights were with the sons of men; but more especially with those who believe, in whose hearts he takes up his abode, and for whose sake he was content to take our nature upon him, and, through a scene of the most astonishing sufferings, with cheerfulness to accomplish our redemption, satisfied to see at last in his faithful people the redeemed travail of his soul. What amazing love and grace! how are we bound to praise him, trust him, and love him with all our heart!

4thly, When one so great and glorious speaks, yea, and one to us withal so inexpressibly good and gracious, well may it be expected that every ear should be attention, and every heart obedience.

1. The exhortation is, Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children; hear instruction, and be wise; so hear, as to mark, learn, and inwardly digest the sacred truths of gospel grace, and from them obtain sound wisdom: and refuse it not; however contrary to flesh and blood the precepts may appear, and mortifying to our fallen nature, we shall find them most healthful to our souls. Watching daily at my gates, in prayer, meditation, and all the ordinances and means of grace, public or private, where God dispenses liberally to all who lack and seek wisdom, and upbraideth not, James 1:5 waiting at the posts of my doors, humbly, patiently, perseveringly, for then he will never send the hungry empty away.

2. Great will be the blessedness of those who hear and obey the dictates of wisdom, and yield up themselves to Christ, to be governed by his word and spirit. Favour with God, acceptance of their persons, forgiveness of their sins, a sense of his love, the spirit of adoption, the grace of the Sanctifier, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost: these are the present blessings provided for the faithful in Christ Jesus, and life, spiritual and eternal, found in him, derived from him, and to be enjoyed with him in the world of bliss and glory. May this blessedness be mine!

3. Dreadful will be the misery of all who reject the Lord Jesus and his gospel. He that sinneth against me, by hardened impenitence refusing to return, or in proud self-dependance trusting in their own doings and duties, instead of his grace and merits, wrongeth his own soul: they sin against their own mercies, refuse the only remedy which can heal them, and bring down upon themselves wrath to the uttermost. All they that hate me, love death. Our fallen nature is enmity against God; every sinner is practically a hater of God; yea, is avowedly so, when he murmurs against the restraints of God's law as severe, and against his threatenings as hard or cruel: but all such love death, not intentionally indeed, but it is the necessary consequence of their ways; they choose the paths of sin, and thereby court their own destruction. They perish because they will perish, and in hell will have none to upbraid but themselves.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 8:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/proverbs-8.html. 1801-1803.

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