After considering the appeal of wisdom – both from a father and from wisdom itself – it is important to consider whether or not this same wisdom is good for us today. The wisdom we are considering in the book of Proverbs is not worldly wisdom but wisdom that comes from above. As Solomon explains in the following passage, godly wisdom will never become obsolete or irrelevant. For this reason, wisdom also appeals to us.
“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was brought forth; while He had not yet made the earth and the fields, nor the first dust of the world. When He established the heavens, I was there, when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when the springs of the deep became fixed, when He set for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth; then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the world, His earth, and having my delight in the sons of men.
“Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways. Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. But he who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death” (8:22-36).
Wisdom is timeless. It existed before, during, and after the Creation. The wise man explains here why this is important.
“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old” (8:22). Wisdom is speaking here, reminding us that the wisdom we are considering is not the worldly wisdom of man. Therefore, the wisdom that we are to pursue is older than the world itself. It belongs to God, not to man; so we must look to God and to what He has revealed in order to acquire this wisdom.
“From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth” (8:23). There are three periods of time mentioned in this verse. First, there is the time before Creation (“from everlasting”). Second, there is the time of the Creation (“from the beginning”). Finally, there is the time in which man has inhabited the earth “from the earliest times of the earth”) – which has been since the sixth day at the end of the Creation week, right before God “completed His work” and “rested on the seventh day” (Genesis 1:26-2:2). This means that divine wisdom predates any human society or culture. Man often takes pride in how the culture in which he is a part has grown and progressed throughout generations, gaining collective wisdom along the way. Much of this wisdom, though, is worldly wisdom. Godly wisdom came before all of this, and so it is independent of human reasoning. Therefore, what may be considered “common sense” or some enlightened realization by a particular society – even our modern society – is not necessarily true or wise. True wisdom existed since before Creation, during the Creation, and from the beginning of man. In the following verses, Solomon expands on these time periods.
“Before the mountains…before the hills…while He had not yet made the earth…nor the first dust of the world” (8:24-25). Before “the beginning” in which “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), God “brought forth” wisdom. This wisdom that appeals to us to “listen” (8:32) is older than time. Therefore, we should not expect it to change with time.
“When He established the heavens…when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies…when the springs of the deep became fixed, when He set for the sea its boundary…when He marked out the foundations of the earth” (8:27-29). Wisdom existed with God prior to Creation, then was used by God in creating the heavens and the earth. These verses describe that work of Creation. All that was created and continues to be sustained by His providence is a testament to the wisdom of God.
“Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the world, His earth, and having my delight in the sons of men” (8:30-31). Wisdom is closely connected to God’s work in Creation, being “beside Him,” with Him “daily,” and “always before Him.” This suggests that for us to possess true wisdom, we must acknowledge God as the Creator. To reject Him as the Creator is to reject the wisdom that existed “beside Him, as a master workman.” At the end, we learn that Wisdom’s “delight [is] with the sons of men” (KJV). This wisdom exists for our benefit. The creation and subsequent providence, which are grounded in wisdom, are for our good. In the same way, the divine message of wisdom that is revealed from above is for our good. As we continue this study, we will see many ways in which wisdom benefits those who follow after it.
“Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways. Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it” (8:32-33). Similar to what we have already noticed, Wisdom invites all to listen, heed, and become wise. Following this type of instruction must invariably lead to obedience. If we keep the ways of wisdom, we will be blessed. Conversely, if we neglect the ways of wisdom, then not only can we not expect the blessings, but we can expect negative consequences for this neglect. Not only must we gain wisdom; but we must regularly be reminded of the things which we have been taught so that, as the Hebrew writer stated, “we do not drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord” (8:34-35). To be blessed we must listen to the words of wisdom. Furthermore, we must exhibit patience and a willingness to wait daily upon wisdom’s instruction. Wisdom will never be obtained overnight. Therefore, we must diligently study so that we can have its teachings firmly planted in our minds. If we do this and follow after this wisdom, then we will find life and the Lord’s favor.
“But he who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death” (8:36). While there are certainly benefits to following wisdom, there are also negative consequences for rejecting it. To forsake the wisdom that comes from above, we bring harm to ourselves and demonstrate that we “love death.”
The next section of our study will focus on the good that is gained and the evil that is avoided by following wisdom so that we might develop a proper appreciation of wisdom.