Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?Proverbs 8:1. Doth not wisdom cry — It is a great question what this wisdom is, of which Solomon discourses so largely and profoundly in this chapter. Some understand it of that attribute or perfection of the divine nature which is called wisdom, whereby God perfectly knows all things, and makes known to men what he judges it necessary or expedient for them to know. This is Bishop Patrick’s opinion, who says, “I take wisdom here, as it signifies in other places of this book, and hath been hitherto described; which Solomon now celebrates for her most venerable antiquity, and introduces like a most beautiful person, no less than a queen, or rather some divine being, who, having finished her own praises, concludes with an earnest invitation unto all to become acquainted with her instructions, if they mean to be happy, and to avoid the greatest miseries. Others, however, understand it of the Son of God, who is called the wisdom of God, Luke 11:49. And it cannot fairly be denied that some passages do best agree to the former, and others to the latter opinion. “Possibly,” says Poole, “both may be joined together, and the chapter may be understood of Christ, considered partly in his personal capacity, and partly in regard to his office, which was to impart the mind and will of God to mankind.” This he did, 1st, By revealing it to, and writing it upon, the mind of man at his first creation, John 1:1-4, &c. 2d, By publishing it unto the patriarchs in the time of the Old Testament, 1 Peter 1:11; and 1 Peter 3:18-20. 3d, By declaring it from his own mouth, and by his apostles and ministers under the gospel.
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.Proverbs 8:2-6. She standeth in the top of high places — Where she may be best seen and heard; not in corners, and in the dark, as the harlot did; by the way in the places of the paths — Where many paths meet, where there is a great concourse, and where travellers may need direction. She crieth at the gates — The places of judgment, and of the confluence of the people; at the entry of the city — To invite passengers at their first coming, and to conduct them to her house; at the coming in of the doors — Namely, of her house, as the harlot stood at her door to invite lovers. Unto you, O men, I call — To all men without exception, even to the meanest and most unworthy. O ye simple — Who want knowledge and experience, and are easily deceived; and ye fools — Wilful sinners. Hear, for I will speak excellent things — Hebrew, נגידים, princely things; things worthy of princes to learn and practise. Or such as excel common things, as much as princes do ordinary persons.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.Proverbs 8:7-10. For my mouth shall speak truth — Hebrew, יהגה, shall meditate, that is, shall speak, not rashly and hastily, but what I have well considered and digested. Wickedness is an abomination, &c. — I hate to speak it; therefore you may be assured I shall not deceive you. All the words of my mouth — All my precepts, promises, threatenings; are in righteousness — Are perfectly just and holy, and conformable to the rules of everlasting righteousness. There is nothing froward or perverse, &c. — Not the least mixture of vanity, or error, or folly in them, as there is in the words of the wisest philosophers. They are all plain — Evident and clear, or right, just, and good; to him that understandeth — To him who, with an honest mind, applies himself to the study of them, in the diligent use of all the means appointed by God to that end: or to him whose mind God hath enlightened by his Spirit, though they seem otherwise to ignorant and carnal men; to them that find knowledge — That are truly wise and discerning persons, and taught of God. Receive my instruction, and not silver — Rather than silver, that is, preferably to silver: or, the meaning may be, “Give not your heart to money, if you would possess wisdom.” For he seems to intimate the inconsistency of these two studies and designs, and the great hinderance which the love of riches gives to the study of wisdom. Indeed, it is impossible to join these two things together, the love of the world and the love of God, which is here implied in the love of wisdom.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.Proverbs 8:12. I wisdom dwell with prudence — I do not content myself with high speculations, but my inseparable companion is prudence, to govern all my own actions, and to direct the actions of others. This is said because some persons have much knowledge and wit, but not discretion. And find out — I help men to find out; witty inventions — Of all ingenious designs and contrivances for the glory of God, and for the good of mankind. “It is the eternal Wisdom that speaks here. She it is from whom all the light and all the knowledge of the wise proceed; all that is true and useful in the understanding and inventions of the human spirit; but above all, the sciences which tend to virtue, and which have God for their end.” —
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.Proverbs 8:13. The fear of the Lord — Which he had before said to be the beginning of wisdom; is to hate evil — It consists in a careful abstinence from all sin, and that not from carnal or prudential motives, but from real hatred to it, on account of its contrariety to the divine nature and attributes, its opposition to God’s word and will, its infinite evil in itself, and its eternally destructive consequences; pride — Which he mentions first, as that which is most hateful to God, and most opposite to true wisdom, and to the genuine fear of God, which constantly produces humility; and the evil way — All wicked actions, especially sinful customs and courses; and the froward mouth, do I hate — False doctrines, and bad counsels, and deceits.
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.Proverbs 8:14-15. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom — Hebrew, ותושׁיה, and essence, that is, all solid, substantial, and useful wisdom is natural and essential to me. I am understanding — By my nature and essence. Or, I am the author of understanding. I have strength — Courage, resolution, and power, to execute all my counsels, and to conquer all difficulties. By me kings reign — They obtain their kingdoms by my appointment and providence; and if they rule their kingdoms wisely and justly, it is by my counsel and assistance. And princes decree justice — Their injustice or wickedness is from themselves, but all the just and good things which they do they owe to my guidance and aid. “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.” — Dodd.
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.Proverbs 8:17-18. I love them that love me — I do not despise their love, though it be but a small and inconsiderable thing to me, but I kindly accept it, and will recompense it with my love and favour; and those that seek me early — That is, with sincere affection, and great diligence, and above all other persons or things in the world; shall find me — Shall not seek in vain, but shall obtain that wisdom which they so highly prize. Observe well, reader, in order that we may seek for wisdom with the earnestness she merits, we must know her value, and love her. We do not desire, much less do we earnestly seek that, the excellence and utility of which we do not know. We must therefore sincerely and importunately ask of God this knowledge, that, understanding the worth and necessity of wisdom, we may fervently desire and love her; and then, 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.” — Dodd. Riches and honour are with me — To bestow on those that love me, who shall have as much of them as infinite wisdom sees will be for their good: see on Proverbs 3:16; Proverbs 4:7-9. Yea, durable riches and righteousness — Riches honestly gotten, not by fraud and oppression, but in the way of justice and fair dealing; and riches charitably used, for alms are called righteousness. Those that have their wealth from God’s blessing on their industry, and that have a heart to do good with it, have riches and righteousness, and such riches will be durable. “Wealth gotten by vanity,” says Henry, “will soon be diminished, but that which is well got will wear well, and will be left to children’s children; and that which is spent in works of piety and charity is put out to the best interest, and so will be durable; for the friends made by the mammon of unrighteousness, when we fail, will receive us into everlasting habitations, Luke 16:9.”
Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:Proverbs 8:20-21. I lead in the way of righteousness — In the way of truth, justice, and mercy, of holiness and happiness; the way in which God would have men to walk, and which will certainly bring them to the desired end. In the midst of the paths of judgment, keeping at an equal distance from both extremes, and from the very borders of them. That I may cause, &c., to inherit substance — Substantial, true, and satisfying happiness; which is here opposed to all worldly enjoyments, which are but mere shadows, and dreams of felicity, Proverbs 23:5.
That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.
The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.Proverbs 8:22-26. The Lord possessed me — As his eternal Wisdom and Word, which was in the beginning with him, John 1:1, and in him, John 14:10, and was afterward made flesh, and dwelt among men, as the only begotten of the Father, full of truth and grace, John 1:14. Before his works of old — His works of creation, as it follows. He is before all things, says the apostle, and by him all things consist, Colossians 1:17. I had glory with the Father, says this eternal wisdom, before the world was, John 17:5. I was set up from everlasting — Hebrew, נסכתי, I was anointed, ordained, or constituted, to be the person by whom the Father resolved to do all his works, first to create, and then to uphold, and govern, and judge, and afterward to redeem and save the world; all which works are particularly ascribed to the Son of God, as is manifest from John 1:1, &c.; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3, and many other places. From the beginning — Before which there was nothing but a vast eternity; or ever the earth was — Which he mentions, because this, together with the heaven, was the first of God’s visible works. When there were no depths — No abyss or deep waters, either mixed with the earth, as they were at first, or separated from it; I was brought forth — Begotten of my Father. Before the mountains were settled — Or fixed by the roots in the earth. While as yet he had not made the earth — That is, the dry land, called earth, after it was separated from the waters, Genesis 1:10. Nor the fields — The plain and open parts of the earth, distinguished from the mountains and hills, and the valleys enclosed between them; nor the highest part — Hebrew, the head; the first part, or beginning; or, the best part; that which exceeds other parts in riches or fruitfulness; which he seems to distinguish from the common fields. Of the dust of the world — Of this lower part of the world, which consists of dust.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:Proverbs 8:27-29. When he prepared the heavens I was there — Not as an idle spectator, but as a co-worker with my Father. When he set a compass upon the face of the depth — Of that great abyss of water and earth, mixed together, which is called both earth, and water, and the deep, (Genesis 1:2,) when he made this lower world in the form of a globe. When he established the clouds above — Hebrew, strengthened them, by his word and decree, which alone upholds the clouds in the air, which otherwise would quickly be dissolved or dispersed. When he strengthened the fountains — When he shut up the several fountains in the cavities of the earth, and kept them there, as it were, by a strong hand, for the use of man and beast; of the deep — Which fountains have their originals from the deep, either from the sea, or from the abyss of waters, in the bowels of the earth. When he gave to the sea his decree — Its bounds or limits, namely, by those parts of the earth which border upon it; that the waters should not pass his commandment — Should not overflow the earth; when he appointed — Or fixed; the foundations of the earth — Hung the earth, self- balanced, upon its centre, or gave the earth its firm standing upon its foundations, notwithstanding all the assaults which the waters of the sea, or those in the bowels of the earth make against it.
When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;Proverbs 8:30-31. Then I was by him — Conversant with him, and united to him, as was said before; as one brought up with him — As one tenderly and dearly beloved by him. I was daily his delight — His elect; in whom his soul delighted, Isaiah 42:1. Rejoicing always before him — In constant and most intimate communion with him. Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth — In the vast variety of creatures wherewith the earth was beautified and enriched; and my delights were with the sons of men — Made after the likeness of God, and capable of converse with him. Then I delighted to uphold them by my power and providence, to reveal myself, and my Father’s mind and will to them, from age to age, to assume their nature, and to redeem and save them. “The wisdom of God,” says Calmet, “communicated itself to men preferably to all other sensible creatures; having given to them alone intelligence, and souls capable of the illumination of prudence, and of the practice of 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.”
Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.Proverbs 8:32-35. Now therefore hearken, &c. — Seeing I have a true love to you, and seeing I am so thoroughly acquainted with my Father’s mind, and so excellently qualified to be your Counsellor and Ruler; hear instruction and be wise — Hearken, I beseech you, and yield to the voice of your own reason, and of God’s holy word; and refuse not — Hebrew, ואל תפרעו, et non abstrahite vos, and do not withdraw yourselves: be so wise and considerate as not to decline hearing, receiving, and obeying it; do not, in any way, reject or slight it. But rather invite such instructions, by giving them thankful entertainment, and going thither where you may meet with them. For blessed is the man that heareth me — Who not only hearkens obediently when he is told his duty, but makes it his business to be rightly informed; watching daily at my gates — Neglecting no opportunity, but constantly and diligently attending there where he may be taught how he ought to live; waiting at the posts of my doors — As servants, and clients, and others wait at the doors of princes, or persons eminent for place, power, or wisdom, that they may be admitted to speak to, or converse with them. Whoso findeth me findeth life — The wisdom here intended, when attained, is the life, salvation, and happiness of men. Christ, the Wisdom and Word of God incarnate, to whom all these attributes agree perfectly, is peculiarly so. But he must be found; that is, known, believed in, loved, and obeyed; he must be revealed to and in us.
Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.Proverbs 8:36. But he that sinneth against me — By the neglect or contempt of, or rebellion against my commands; wrongeth his own soul — Doth the greatest injury to his own soul: he even destroys it, and is guilty of the worst kind of murder, of soul-murder. All they that hate me — That reject and disobey my counsels, living in the commission of known sin, which, in God’s account, is hating him, as is here and elsewhere implied; love death — Not directly and intentionally, but by consequence, because they love those practices which they know will bring certain destruction upon them.