Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
Pr 8:1-36. Contrasted with sensual allurements are the advantages of divine wisdom, which publicly invites men, offers the best principles of life, and the most valuable benefits resulting from receiving her counsels. Her relation to the divine plans and acts is introduced, as in Pr 3:19, 20, though more fully, to commend her desirableness for men, and the whole is closed by an assurance that those finding her find God's favor, and those neglecting ruin themselves. Many regard the passage as a description of the Son of God by the title, Wisdom, which the older Jews used (and by which He is called in Lu 11:49), as Joh 1:1, &c., describes Him by that of Logos, the Word. But the passage may be taken as a personification of wisdom: for, (1) Though described as with God, wisdom is not asserted to be God. (2) The use of personal attributes is equally consistent with a personification, as with the description of a real person. (3) The personal pronouns used accord with the gender (feminine) of wisdom constantly, and are never changed to that of the person meant, as sometimes occurs in a corresponding use of spirit, which is neuter in Greek, but to which masculine pronouns are often applied (Joh 16:14), when the acts of the Holy Spirit are described. (4) Such a personification is agreeable to the style of this book (compare Pr 1:20; 3:16, 17; 4:8; 6:20-22; 9:1-4), whereas no prophetical or other allusions to the Saviour or the new dispensation are found among the quotations of this book in the New Testament, and unless this be such, none exist. (5) Nothing is lost as to the importance of this passage, which still remains a most ornate and also solemn and impressive teaching of inspiration on the value of wisdom.
1-4. The publicity and universality of the call contrast with the secrecy and intrigues of the wicked (Pr 7:8, &c.).
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
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.
5. wisdom—literally, "subtilty" in a good sense, or, "prudence."
fools—as Pr 1:22.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
6. excellent things—or, "plain," "manifest."
opening … things—upright words.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
7. For … truth—literally, "My palate shall meditate," or (as Orientals did) "mutter," my thoughts expressed only to myself are truth.
wickedness—specially falsehood, as opposed to truth.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
8. in righteousness—or, "righteous" (Ps 9:8,11:7).
froward—literally, "twisted," or contradictory, that is, to truth.
They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
9. plain … understandeth—easily seen by those who apply their minds.
that find—implying search.
Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
10. not silver—preferable to it, so last clause implies comparison.
For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.
11. (Compare Pr 3:14, 15).
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
12. prudence—as in Pr 8:5. The connection of "wisdom" and "prudence" is that of the dictates of sound wisdom and its application.
find … inventions—or, "devices," "discreet ways" (Pr 1:4).
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
13. For such is the effect of the fear of God, by which hatred to evil preserves from it.
froward mouth—or, "speech" (Pr 2:12; 6:14).
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
14. It also gives the elements of good character in counsel.
sound wisdom—(Pr 2:7).
I … strength—or, "As for me, understanding is strength to me," the source of power (Ec 9:16); good judgment gives more efficiency to actions;
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
15, 16. of which a wisely conducted government is an example.
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.
17. early—or, "diligently," which may include the usual sense of early in life.
Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
18. durable riches … righteousness—Such are the "riches," enduring sources of happiness in moral possessions (compare Pr 3:16).
My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
19. (Compare Pr 8:11; 3:16).
I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:
20, 21. The courses in which wisdom leads conduct to a true present prosperity (Pr 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.
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.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
23. I was set up—ordained, or inaugurated (Ps 2:6). The other terms carry out the idea of the earliest antiquity, and illustrate it by the details of creation [Pr 8:24-29].
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
24. brought forth—(Compare Ps 90:2).
abounding—or, "laden with water."
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
25. settled—that is, sunk in foundations.
While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
26. fields—or, "out places," "deserts," as opposite to (habitable) "world."
highest part—or, "sum," all particles together,
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
27. when he set … depth—marked out the circle, according to the popular idea of the earth, as circular, surrounded by depths on which the visible concave heavens rested.
When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
28. established … deep—that is, so as to sustain the waters above and repress those below the firmament (Ge 1:7-11; Job 26:8).
When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
29. commandment—better, the shore, that is, of the sea.
foundations—figuratively denotes the solid structure (Job 38:4; Ps 24:2).
Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
30, 31. one brought up—an object of special and pleasing regard. The bestowal of wisdom on men is represented by its finding a delightful residence and pleasing God.
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.
32-36. Such an attribute men are urged to seek.
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.
34. watching … waiting—literally, "so as to watch"; wait, denoting a most sedulous attention.
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.
35. (Compare Lu 13:23, 24).
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
36. sinneth … me—or better, "missing me," as opposed to "finding" [Pr 8:35].
love death—act as if they did (compare Pr 17:9).