Matthew Poole's Commentary
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?Wisdom’s fame, call, and exhortation, Proverbs 8:1-9. Her excellency, nature, and hatred of evil, Proverbs 8:10-13. Her power, Proverbs 8:14-16; and love to the godly, Proverbs 8:17. Her riches, Proverbs 8:18,19. Her eternity, Proverbs 8:20-30. Her delight in the children of men, Proverbs 8:31. An exhortation to true wisdom, Proverbs 8:32,33; and the blessedness of them that are truly wise, Proverbs 8:34,35. The fruits of sin, Proverbs 8:36.
It is a great question what this wisdom is, of which Solomon discourseth 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 knoweth all things, and maketh known to men what he judgeth necessary or expedient for them to know. Others understand it of the second person in the Godhead, 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 both may be joined together, and the chapter may be understood of Christ, considered partly in his personal capacity, and partly in regard of his office, which was to impart the mind and will of God to mankind, which he did,
1. By revealing it to and writing it upon the mind of man at his first creation; for it was Christ who then gave being, and life, and light to mankind, as is undeniably evident from John 1:1-4, &c.
2. By publishing it unto the holy patriarchs and prophets in the time of the Old Testament; for it was Christ who spake and discovered things to them from time to time, as is manifest from 1 Peter 1:11 3:18-20, and from many other scriptures, both of the Old Testament, as I have formerly noted in their proper places, and in the New Testament, as we shall see hereafter.
3. By declaring it from his own mouth, and by his apostles and ministers under the gospel.
Put forth her voice; clearly and audibly instruct men how to avoid those fleshly lusts. He opposeth the inviting words of wisdom to the seducing speeches of the harlot.
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.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. 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, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.At the gates; the places of judgment, and of the confluence of 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 at the doors, to wit, of her house, as the harlot stood at her door to invite lovers:
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.To all men without exception, even to the meanest, who are thus called, Psalm 49:2.
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.Ye simple; who want knowledge and experience, and are easily deceived.
Ye fools; wilful and obstinate sinners.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.Of excellent things, Heb. of princely things, worthy of princes to learn and practise them; or such as excel common things as much as princes do ordinary persons.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.Shall speak, Heb. shall meditate, i.e. shall speak not rashly and hastily, but what I have well considered and digested.
Is an abomination to my lips: I hate to speak it; therefore you may be assured that I shall not deceive you.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.All the words of my mouth; all my precepts, promises, threatenings, &c.
Nothing froward or perverse in them; not the least mixture of vanity, or error, or folly in them, as there is in the words of the wisest philosophers, &c.
They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.Plain; evident and clear to their minds; or, right, just and good.
To him that understandeth; either 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-minded men.
That find knowledge; that are truly wise and discerning persons, and taught of God.
Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.And not silver, i.e. rather than silver, as such negative expressions are understood, Genesis 45:8 Exodus 16:8 Jeremiah 7:22 16:14,15, and in many other places. Though withal 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.
For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.No text from Poole on this verse.
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.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, by good counsels. This he saith, because some persons have much wit and knowledge, and nothing of discretion.
Find out knowledge, i.e. I know them as clearly and certainly as if I had found them out by diligent searching. Or, I find out, is put for I help men to find out, as the Spirit is said to intercede, Romans 8:26, when it helpeth us to do so.
Of witty inventions; of all ingenious designs and contrivances for the service and glory of God, and for the good of ourselves and others. But why may it not be rendered, of wicked devices, as this very word is translated, Proverbs 12:2 14:17 24:8? For surely this is one great work of prudence, to discover, and so avoid, all evil counsels or devices, and the effects of them. But this I propose with submission, because I have not the concurrence of any interpreter in this exposition.
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.The fear of the Lord; which he had before noted to be the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs 1:7.
Is to hate evil; it consists in a careful abstinence from all sin, and that not from carnal or prudential motives, but from a true dislike and hatred of it.
Pride; which he mentions first, as that which is most hateful to God, and most opposite to true wisdom and to the fear of God, which constantly produce humility.
The evil way; all wicked actions, especially sinful custom: and courses.
The froward mouth; false doctrines, and bad counsels and deceits.
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.Sound wisdom: all solid, and substantial, and useful, yea essential wisdom, is natural and essential to me, for the word properly signifies essence.
I am understanding, or, my nature and essence, as was now said. Or, I am the author of understanding; as John 17:3. This is life eternal, i.e. this is the cause or means of it. I have strength courage and resolution to execute all my counsels, and to conquer all difficulties.
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.By me kings reign: either,
1. They get their kingdom by mine appointment and providence. Or rather,
2. They rule their kingdoms wisely, and justly, and happily, by my counsel and assistance; for this best suits with the next clause.
And princes decree justice: their injustice or wickedness is from themselves, but all the just and good thing: which they do they owe to my conduct.
By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.No text from Poole on this verse.
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.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.
That seek me early, i.e. with sincere affection, and great diligence, and above all other persons or things in the world; which he mentions as the effect and evidence of their love; for otherwise all men pretend to love God.
Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.Which he mentions here, either,
1. As the best and surest way to get and to keep riches; for estates unjustly gotten quickly vanish, as is manifest both from Scripture and from common observation. Or,
2. To signify that this wisdom gives both worldly and spiritual or heavenly blessings together to its followers, whereas God gives riches alone to ungodly men, and they are to expect no other portion.
My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.No text from Poole on this verse.
I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:Keeping at an equal distance from both extremes, and from the very borders of them; which is called a
putting away iniquity far from us, Job 22:23.
That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.Substance; substantial, and true, and satisfying happiness; which is here opposed to all worldly enjoyments which are said not to be, Proverbs 23:5; which are but mere shadows and dreams of felicity.
The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.Possessed me, as his Son by eternal generation, who was from eternity with him, as is said, John 14:10; and in him, as he also was in me, John 14:10.
In the beginning; yea, and before the beginning, as it is largely expressed in the following verses.
Of his way; either,
1. Of his counsels or decrees. Or rather,
2. Of his works of creation, as it follows.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.Set up, Heb. 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 afterwards 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 Heb 1:3, and many other places, as we may see hereafter in their several 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, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.No depths; no abyss or deep waters, either mixed with the earth, as they were at first, or separated from it.
Brought forth; begotten of my Father’s essence.
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:Settled; or, fixed by their roots in the earth.
While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.The earth, i.e. the dry land, called earth after it was separated from the waters, Genesis 1:10.
The fields; the plain and open parts of the earth, distinguished from the mountains and hills, and the valleys enclosed between them.
The highest part; or, the first part, or beginning; or, the best part, Heb. the head; 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 consisteth of dust.
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:I was there, not as an idle spectator, but as a co-worker with my Father.
Of the depth, i.e. of that great and deep 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 round, or in the form of a globe, agreeable to the form of the upper world.
When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:Established, Heb. strengthened, by his word and decree, which alone upholds the clouds in the air, which of themselves are thin and weak bodies, and 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 song hand for the use of mankind.
Of the deep; which have their original 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, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:His decree; or, his bound or limits, to wit, those parts of the earth which border upon it.
Not pass his commandment, i.e. not overflow the earth.
Appointed, or laid, the foundations o the earth; either,
1. The centre of the earth; or,
2. The earth itself, which is the foundation of the world; or rather,
3. The firm standing of the earth upon its foundations, notwithstanding all the assaults which the waters of the sea or within the earth make against it; which is a singular work of God’s providence.
Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;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.
Rejoicing always before him; he and I had constant, and intimate, and sweet converse together.
Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; in contemplating the wonderful wisdom and goodness of God in the making and ordering of all his creatures, and of man especially.
My delights were with the sons of men, 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, which I would not do for the fallen angels.
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.Now therefore; seeing I have such 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, and refuse it not.Or, do not make it void or unprofitable to you by your own sloth or wilfulness.
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.As servants, and clients, and others wait at the doors of princes or persons of eminency for place, or power, or wisdom, that they may be admitted to speak or converse with them.
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.No text from Poole on this verse.
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.He that sinneth against me, by the neglect or contempt of or rebellion against my commands,
wrongeth his own soul; is guilty of self-murder and of soul-murder.
They that hate me, i.e. who reject and disobey my counsels, and live wickedly, which in God’s account is a hating of him, as is here implied and elsewhere, as Exodus 20:5 Deu 7:10 32:41.
Love death; not directly or intentionally, but by consequence, because they love those practices which they know will bring certain destruction upon them.