|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:22-31 The Son of God declares himself to have been engaged in the creation of the world. How able, how fit is the Son of God to be the Saviour of the world, who was the Creator of it! The Son of God was ordained, before the world, to that great work. Does he delight in saving wretched sinners, and shall not we delight in his salvation?
Verses 22-31. - Wisdom speaks of her origin, her active operations, the part which she bore in the creation of the universe, her relation to God (see on Proverbs 1:20 and Proverbs 3:19, and Introduction). It is impossible to decide what was the exact view of the writer with regard to the wisdom of which he speaks so eloquently; but there can be no doubt that he was guided in his diction so as to give expression to the idea of him whom St. John calls the Word of God. The language used is not applicable to an impersonal quality, an abstract faculty of God. It describes the nature and office of a Person; and who that Person is we learn from the later Scriptures, which speak of Christ as the "Wisdom of God" (Luke 11:49) and "the Power of God and the Wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24). If we confine our inquiry to the question - What was in the mind of the author when he indited this wonderful section concerning Wisdom? we shall fail to apprehend its true significance, and shall be disowning the influence of the Holy Spirit, which inspires all Scripture, which prompted the holy men who spake to utter words of which they knew not the full spiritual significance, and which could only be understood by subsequent revelation. There is, then, nothing forced or incongruous in seeing in this episode a portraiture of the Second Person of the blessed Trinity, the essential Wisdom of God personified, the Logos of later books, and of the gospel. This interpretation obtained universally in the Church in the earliest times, and has commended itself to the most learned and reverent of modern commentators. That much which was contained in their own utterances was unknown to the prophets of old, that they did not fully perceive the mysteries which they darkly enunciated, we learn from St. Peter, who tells us that they who prophesied of the grace of Christ sought and searched diligently what the Spirit of God that was in them did point unto, and were shown that not unto themselves, but unto us, they ministered those things, secrets which angels themselves desire to look into (1 Peter 1:10, etc.). Wisdom as a human endowment, animating all intellectual and even physical powers; Wisdom as communicating to man moral excellence and piety; Wisdom as not only an attribute of God, but itself as the eternal thought of God; - under these aspects it is regarded in our book; but under and through all it is more or less personified. Khochmah is contrasted in the next chapter, not with an abstraction, but with an actual woman of impure life - a real, not an imaginary, antagonist. The personality of the latter intimates that of the former (see Liddon, 'Bampt. Lects.,' 2.). Verse 22. - The Lord possessed me. Great controversy has arisen about the word rendered "possessed." The verb used is קָנָה (kanah), which means properly "to erect, set upright," also "to found, form" (Genesis 14:19, 22), then "to acquire" (Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 4:5, 7, etc.) or "to possess" (Proverbs 15:32; Proverbs 19:8). The Vulgate, Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus, Venetian, give "possessed;" Septuagint, ἔκτισε, "made," and so Syriac. The Arians took the word in the sense of "created" (which, though supported by the LXX., it seems never to have had), and deduced therefrom the Son's inferiority to the Father - that he was made, not begotten from all eternity. Ben Sira more than once employs the verb κτίζω in speaking of Wisdom's origin; e.g. Ecclus. 1:4, 9 Ecclus. 24:8. Opposing the heresy of the Arians, the Fathers generally adopted the rendering ἐκτήσατο, possedit, "possessed;" and even those who received the translation ἔκτισε, explained it not of creating, but of appointing, thus: The Father set Wisdom over all created things, or made Wisdom to be the efficient cause of his creatures (Revelation 3:14). May we not say that the writer was guided to use a word which would express relation in a twofold sense? Wisdom is regarded either as the mind of God expressed in operation, or the Second Person of the Holy Trinity; and the verb thus signifies that God possesses in himself this essential Wisdom, and intimates likewise that Wisdom by eternal generation is a Divine Personality. St. John (John 1:1), before saying that the Word was God, affirms that "the Word was with God (ὁ Λόγος η΅ν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν)." So we may assert that Solomon has arrived at the truth that Wisdom was πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, if he has left it for later revelation to declare that ἡ Σοφία or ὁ Λόγος Θεὸς η΅ν. Whichever sense we assign to the verb on which the difficulty is supposed to hang, whether we take it as "possessed," "formed," or "acquired," we may safely assume that the idea conveyed to Christian minds is this - that Wisdom, existing eternally in the Godhead, was said to be "formed" or "brought forth" when it operated in creation, and when it assumed human nature. In the beginning of his way. So the Vulgate, in initio viarum suarum. But the preposition "in" does not occur in the original; and the words may be bettor translated, "as the beginning of his way" (Septuagint, ἔκτισέ με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ); i.e. as the earliest revelation of his working. Wisdom, eternal and uncreated, first puts forth its energy in creation, then becomes incarnate, and is now called, "the Firstborn of all creation (πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως)" (Colossians 1:15). Thus in Psalm 2:7, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee" (Hebrews 1:5); and, "When he bringeth in the Firstborn into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him" (Hebrews 1:6). In the present clause, the ways of God are his works, as in Job 26:14 and Job 40:19, where behemoth is called "chief among the ways of God" (comp. Psalm 145:17, where "ways" stands as a parallel to "works"). Before his works of old. These words are better regarded (with Delitzsch) as a second parallel object, קֶדֶם (kedem), translated "before," being not a preposition, but denoting previous existence. Hence we translate, "The foremost of his works of old;" i.e. the earliest revelation of his energy. There is a curious passage in the 'Book of Enoch,' ch. 42, which speaks of the personality and pre-existence of Wisdom, of her desire to dwell among men, frustrated by man's wickedness: "Wisdom found no place where she could dwell; therefore was her dwelling in heaven. Wisdom came forth in order to dwell among the sons of men, and found no habitation; then she returned to her place, and took her seat among the angels." We may add Wisd. 8:3, "In that she dwelleth with God (συμβίωσιν Θεοῦ ἔχουσα), she magnifieth her nobility."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,.... Not "created me", as the Targum and the Septuagint version; which version Arius following gave birth to his pernicious doctrine; who from hence concluded Christ is a creature, and was the first creature that God made, not of the same but of a like nature with himself, in some moment or period of eternity; and by whom he made all others: the Word, or Wisdom of God is never said to be created; and if as such he was created, God must have been without his Wisdom before he was created; besides, Christ, as the Word and Wisdom of God, is the Creator of all things, and not created, John 1:1; but this possession is not in right of creation, as the word is sometimes used, Genesis 4:1; it might be more truly rendered, "the Lord begat me", as the word is translated by the Septuagint in Zechariah 13:5; it denotes the Lord's having, possessing, and enjoying his word and wisdom as his own proper Son; which possession of him is expressed by his being with him and in him, and in his bosom, and as one brought forth and brought up by him; as he was "in the beginning of his way" of creation, when he went forth in his wisdom and power, and created all things; then he did possess his Son, and made use of him, for by him he made the worlds: and "in the beginning of his way" of grace, which was before his way of creation; he began with him when he first went out in acts of grace towards his people; his first thoughts, purposes, and decrees concerning their happiness, were in him; the choice of their persons was made in him; God was in him contriving the scheme of their peace, reconciliation, and salvation; the covenant of grace was made with him, and all fulness of grace was treasured up in him: the words may be rendered, "the Lord possessed me, the beginning of his way" (h); that is, who am the beginning, as he is; the beginning of the creation of God, the first cause, the efficient of it, both old and new; see Colossians 1:18. So Aben Ezra, who compares with this Job 40:19. This shows the real and actual existence of Christ from eternity, his relation to Jehovah his Father, his nearness to him, equality with him, and distinction from him: it is added, for further illustration and confirmation's sake,
before his works of old; the creation of the heavens and the earth; a detail of which there is in the following verses.
(h) "possidet me principium viae suae", Pagninus, Michaelis, Schultens; "habuit me principium viae suae", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
22-31. Strictly, God's attributes are part of Himself. Yet, to the poetical structure of the whole passage, this commendation of wisdom is entirely consonant. In order of time all His attributes are coincident and eternal as Himself. But to set forth the importance of wisdom as devising the products of benevolence and power, it is here assigned a precedence. As it has such in divine, so should it be desired in human, affairs (compare Pr 3:19).
possessed—or, "created"; in either sense, the idea of precedence.
in the beginning—or simply, "beginning," in apposition with "me."
before … of old—preceding the most ancient deeds.
Proverbs 8:22 Parallel Commentaries
Proverbs 8:22 NIV
Proverbs 8:22 NLT
Proverbs 8:22 ESV
Proverbs 8:22 NASB
Proverbs 8:22 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible