Who is Proverbs 8 talking about, and what is he talking about?
The featured character in Proverbs 8 is named “Lady Wisdom.” It is clearly a feminine voice in this poetic passage. But at the same time, she represents so much more. She speaks as wisdom speaks. And the whole chapter is all about wisdom’s benefits and choosing to follow the course wisdom offers. Let’s outline the chapter so that we can see these points more clearly.
Listen to Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 8:1-11)
Lady Wisdom travels the streets of the city, looking for people to listen to her and follow her ways (Proverbs 8:1-3). The substance of her message is given to each of us to listen (Proverbs 8:4-11). She calls on the simple ones, those who want to know wisdom (Proverbs 8:4-5).
All of the things we want in life, wisdom, truth, nobility, righteousness, and what is right, the right path, all of these come from the lips of wisdom (Proverbs 8:6-9). She says that listening to wisdom is worth more than any treasure we can think of (Proverbs 8:10-11).
It’s a better choice than wealth and everything people usually pursue. When Solomon chose wisdom over everything else from the Lord, he realized that these other things come after a person is wise.
The Benefits of Following Wisdom (Proverbs 8:12-21)
How is wisdom worth more than the wealth most people see? Lady Wisdom outlines the benefits of following her instead of any other human pursuit. Wisdom offers the right choices in life (Proverbs 8:12). She hates all of the things that get us in trouble like evil, arrogance, and perverted speech (Proverbs 8:13).
Wisdom brings to the table counsel, sound wisdom, insight, and strength (Proverbs 8:14). She allows people to rise to power because they have the ability to make good and godly choices, the strength to pursue them instead of violence, and the ability to hear the best possibilities from godly counsel before they make decisions (Proverbs 8:15-16). Essentially, because of wisdom these kings and rulers judge rightly and bring justice to the land.
Not only power, but riches come your way when you follow wisdom (Proverbs 8:18-21). This is not just power and authority, or riches and wealth. It is the respect and honor that goes with them.
Although you might have power and wealth, people don’t see you as a jerk who lords your own personal gain over them. They respect you as a ruler. While it may be easy to become powerful over others, it doesn’t guarantee that they will have you respect. Wisdom does.
Wisdom As the Foundation of Creation (Proverbs 8:22-31)
Wisdom isn’t a new player in the game. She’s been around since the creation of the universe. In fact, wisdom is the engine of all of creation. When God spoke the world into existence, wisdom was the acting member (Proverbs 8:22-23).
Wisdom was established by God before the earth was spoken into existence (Proverbs 8:24-26). Even before the earth was formed, the heavens were formed according to Genesis 1. And wisdom existed before the heavens and the seas were created (Proverbs 8:27-29). The reason Proverbs mentions the heavens and the seas together is that they both existed simultaneously before God created the horizon in Genesis 1.
Proverbs 8:30-31 is probably the most interesting part of this passage for many Christians. We have been listening to Lady wisdom speak and make her case so far. But when she says that she as a person stood beside God as creation happened, as the acting force of God, it reminds us of John 1:1.
What I mean by this is that the Word, the Logos, Jesus, has the same idea wrapped up in it. The Greek philosophers understood and used this word Logos for the creative force in the universe. And John uses it the same way in John 1:1-3. Jesus is beside God as creation happens, equal with him.
Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Paul talks about that in 1 Corinthians 1:24. So Lady Wisdom, as wisdom personified, also points to Jesus who is the ultimate wisdom of God. To fear the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). And to know Jesus is to know God’s wisdom incarnate.
Call to Listen and Be Blessed by Wisdom (Proverbs 8:32-36)
Finally, Lady Wisdom once again, as the chapter opened, calls humanity to listen to her. This sort of summarizes the whole chapter. The reason we listen to wisdom is that it brings us God’s blessing in life (Proverbs 8:32-34).
Blessing comes to those who keep the ways of wisdom (practice wisdom), and persistently pursues wisdom and waits for it before he or she acts, Discovering and acting with wisdom brings life, good and long life (Proverbs 8:35). Not just life, but the Lord’s favor as you walk through it.
In the only contrasting verse in the whole chapter (for many times and Proverbs wisdom and foolishness are contrasted), those who don’t find wisdom, the foolish, will only indoor lifetime of injury leading to death (Proverbs 8:36).
The message of Proverbs 8 is quite clear. When we choose to listen to and practice wisdom, we will be blessed with many blessings from God. But if we don’t choose wisdom, we will only find a lifetime of injury, heartache, and one that leads to death.