|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:20-33 Solomon, having showed how dangerous it is to hearken to the temptations of Satan, here declares how dangerous it is not to hearken to the calls of God. Christ himself is Wisdom, is Wisdoms. Three sorts of persons are here called by Him: 1. Simple ones. Sinners are fond of their simple notions of good and evil, their simple prejudices against the ways of God, and flatter themselves in their wickedness. 2. Scorners. Proud, jovial people, that make a jest of every thing. Scoffers at religion, that run down every thing sacred and serious. 3. Fools. Those are the worst of fools that hate to be taught, and have a rooted dislike to serious godliness. The precept is plain; Turn you at my reproof. We do not make a right use of reproofs, if we do not turn from evil to that which is good. The promises are very encouraging. Men cannot turn by any power of their own; but God answers, Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you. Special grace is needful to sincere conversion. But that grace shall never be denied to any who seek it. The love of Christ, and the promises mingled with his reproofs, surely should have the attention of every one. It may well be asked, how long men mean to proceed in such a perilous path, when the uncertainty of life and the consequences of dying without Christ are considered? Now sinners live at ease, and set sorrow at defiance; but their calamity will come. Now God is ready to hear their prayers; but then they shall cry in vain. Are we yet despisers of wisdom? Let us hearken diligently, and obey the Lord Jesus, that we may enjoy peace of conscience and confidence in God; be free from evil, in life, in death, and for ever.
Verses 20-33. - 2. Second admonitory discourse. Address of Wisdom personified, exhibing the folly of those who wilfully reject, and the security of those who hearken to, her counsels. The sacred writer, in this section, as also in ch. 8, uses the rhetorical figure of prosopopceia, or impersonation. Wisdom is represented as speaking and as addressing the simple, scorners, and fools. The address itself is one of the noblest specimens of sacred eloquence, expressing in rapid succession the strongest phases of feeling - pathetic solicitude with abundant promise, indignant scorn at the rejection of her appeal, the judicial severity of offended majesty upon offenders, and lastly the judicial complacency which delights in mercy towards the obedient. The imagery in part is taken from the forces of nature in their irresistible and overwhelming violence and destructive potency. Verse 20. - Wisdom crieth without. Wisdom. The Hebrew word (khochmoth) here used to designate Wisdom seems to be an abstract derivation from the ordinary khochmah. The form is peculiar to the Proverbs and Psalms, in the former occurring four times (Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 9:1; Proverbs 14:1; Proverbs 24:7), and in the latter twice only (viz. Psalm 49:4; Psalm 78:15). As in Proverbs 9:1 and Proverbs 24:7, it is a pluralis excellentiae of the feminine gender, a variety of the pluralis extensivus, as Bottcher prefers to denominate it. The feminine form may he determined by the general law which associates purity and serenity with womanhood (Plumptre). The idea of plurality, however, is not that of extension, but of comprehension, i.e. it is not so much all kinds of wisdom which is presented to us, as all the varieties under which wisdom par excellence may be regarded and is comprehended. The plural form of the word denotes the highest character or excellence in which wisdom can be conceived; or, as the marginal reading expresses it, wisdoms, i.e. excellent wisdom. Other instances of the pluralis excellentiae are met with in Holy Writ, e.g. Elohim, God, i.e. "God of Gods," either from the polytheistic view, or from the monotheistic view as expressive of God's might in manifestation, passim; k'doshim, "the Holy (God)," Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 30:3; adonim, for adon "lord" (Gesenius, 'Gram.,' § 108. 2 b). In the conception of Wisdom here presented to us in the text we have the germ of an idea which, on the principles of expansion, developed subsequently in the consciousness of the Christian Church into a definite identification of Wisdom with the Second Person of the blessed Trinity. There is a striking parallel to this passage in Luke 11:49, where Christ speaks of himself as ἡ Σοφία τοῦ Θεοῦ, "the Wisdom of God," that shall send prophets and apostles into the world, and thereby identifies himself with Wisdom (cf. this with vers. 20, 21; ch. 7.). Again, a striking similarity is observable between the teaching of Divine Wisdom and that of the Incarnate Word, as much in their promises as in their threats and warnings. But it is difficult to determine with accuracy to what extent the Messianic import of the personification was present to the consciousness of the sacred writers, and whether Wisdom as here presented to us is simply a poetic and abstract personification or a distinct by-postatizing of the Word. Dorner ('Pers. of Christ,' Introd., p. 16), with reference to ch. 8:22, etc., says that though Wisdom is introduced speaking as a personality distinct from God, still the passage does not lead clearly to an hypostatizing of the Khochmah. Dollinger ('Heidenthum und Judenthum,' bk. 10. pt. 3. sec. 2 a, and Proverbs 8:22, etc.) maintains that Wisdom is "the personified idea of the mind of God in creation," rather than the presence of "a distinct hypostasis." Lucke (see references in Liddon, 'Bampton Lects.') holds that in Proverbs Wisdom is merely a personification It is clear that whatever is predicated of Wisdom in ch. 8. must be also predicated of her in the passage before us, in reference either to the hypostatic or opposite view. On the other hand, a large number of expositors, dating from the earliest periods of the Christian Church down to the present time, see in Wisdom a distinct hypostasis, or person - the Lord Jesus Christ. A fuller investigation of this subject will be seen in our remarks on ch. 8. For the present we observe that Wisdom is essentially Divine. Her authority, her utterances, whether of promise, threat, scorn, or vengeance, are the authority, the utterances, of God. Crieth; rather, crieth loudly, or aloud. The Hebrew verb ranan (רָנַן) is "to vibrate the voice," and conveys the idea of the clear loud ringing tones with which proclamations were made; cf. the Vulgate praedicare, and the Arabic clamitate, "to cry with a loud voice." Fleischer remarks that the Arabic rannan, which is allied to the Hebrew verb, is used of a speaker who has a clear piercing voice. In such a way does Wisdom cry without when making her address. She elevates her voice that all may hear. The verb in the original is tazonnah, the feminine singular of ranan, and predicate to "Wisdom," according to the rule that verbs in the singular are construed with plural nouns having a singular signification, especially the pluralis excellentiae (see Gesenius, 'Gram.,' § 146. 2). Without. בַּהוּצ (bakhuts) is here used adverbially, as in Genesis 9:22, and signifies "in the open places," i.e. abroad, without, as opposed to the space within the walls. The writer here begins his enumeration of the five places wherein Wisdom preaches, viz.
(2) in the streets,
(3) in chief places of concourse,
(4) in the opening of the gates,
(5) in the city, all of which are public, and thus indicate the publicity of her announcements (with those comp. Proverbs 8:1; Proverbs 9:3). She uttereth her voice; or, causeth her voice to be beard; represented in the Vulgate by dat vocem suam. and in the LXX. by παῥῤησίαν ἄγει (equivalent to "she observes free-spokenness"). The instrumentality which Wisdom uses in her public preaching are the prophets and teachers (Ecclus. 24:33; Zockler, Vatablus, Mercerus). In the streets; literally, in the wide spares; the Hebrew, רחֹבות (r'khovoth), being, as in Genesis 26:22, "wide spaces," and corresponding to the πλατεία of the LXX.; plateae, Vulgate. The same places are indicated in Luke 14:21, where, in the parable of the marriage supper, the servants are bidden to go out into the streets (πλατείαι) and lanes of the city. The word is connected with the adjective rakhav (רָחַב), "broad," "wide;" and in 2 Chronicles 32:6 is used to designate the ample space at the gates of Oriental cities (Gesenius), though here it seems to refer rather to "squares," large open spaces, not uncommon in Oriental cities - I saw one such at Aden - or it may refer to the broad crowded thoroughfares. The Syriac reading, in compitis, gives a different sense, as compitum, equivalent to "crossroads."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Wisdom crieth without,.... Here the person instructing throughout this whole book is represented under the name of "Wisdom"; by which we are to understand not the attribute of divine wisdom displayed in the works of creation; nor the light of nature in man; nor the law of Moses given to the Israelites; nor the revelation of the divine will in general, as it is delivered out in the sacred Scriptures; nor the Gospel, and the ministry of it, in particular; but our Lord Jesus Christ; for the things spoken of Wisdom, and ascribed to it in this book, especially in the eighth and ninth chapters, show that a divine Person is intended, and most properly belong to Christ; who may be called "Wisdoms" (b), in the plural number, as in the Hebrew text, because of the consummate and perfect wisdom that is in him; as he is a divine Person, he is "the Logos", the Word and Wisdom of God; as Mediator, "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid" in him, Colossians 2:3; and, as man, "the Spirit of Wisdom" rests upon him without measure, Isaiah 11:2. This, with what follows to the end of the chapter, is a prophecy of the ministry of Christ in the days of his flesh, and of the success of it; and of the calamities that should come upon the Jews for the rejection of him: and Wisdom is here said to "cry", as Christ did, John 7:28; the word signifies to cry both in a sorrowful way, as Jesus did when he cried to Jerusalem, weeping over it, Matthew 23:37; and in a joyful one, which well suits with the Gospel, as preached by him; a joyful sound expressed by piping, in opposition to John's ministry, which was a mournful one, Matthew 11:17; for crying here means no other than the preaching of the word; which is such a cry as that of heralds, when they publicly proclaim peace or war; so Wisdom or Christ, is said to "proclaim liberty to the captives", and "the acceptable year of the Lord", Isaiah 61:1. This cry was made "without" the city of Jerusalem, and without that part of the country which was properly called Jewry; Christ first preached in the land of Galilee; or this may mean the Gentile world, where Christ preached, though not in person, yet by his apostles, whom he sent into all the world to preach the Gospel to every creature;
she uttereth her voice in the streets: of the city of Jerusalem, and other places; nor is this contrary to Matthew 12:19; which is to be understood of crying in a bawling and litigious way, of lifting up the voice in self-commendation, neither of which Christ did; and yet might cry and utter his voice in the streets, that is, publicly preach his Gospel there, as he did; and he also sent his servants into the streets and lanes of the city to call in sinners by the ministry of the word, Luke 14:21; which perhaps may be meant of places in the Gentile world; nor is this sense to be excluded here; it may be figuratively understood of the public ministration of the word and ordinances in the church called the streets and broad ways of it, Sol 3:2.
(b) "sapientiae", Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20-33. Some interpreters regard this address as the language of the Son of God under the name of Wisdom (compare Lu 11:49). Others think that wisdom, as the divine attribute specially employed in acts of counsel and admonition, is here personified, and represents God. In either case the address is a most solemn and divine admonition, whose matter and spirit are eminently evangelical and impressive (see on Pr 8:1).
Wisdom—literally, "Wisdoms," the plural used either because of the unusual sense, or as indicative of the great excellency of wisdom (compare Pr 9:1).
streets—or most public places, not secretly.
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