Proverbs 8:1
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
VIII.

(n). Fourteenth Discourse:—The Praise of Wisdom (Proverbs 8)

(1) Doth not wisdom cry?—See above on Proverbs 1:20. In contrast with the secret allurements of Vice under the cover of night, is here represented the open invitation of Wisdom. (Comp. John 18:20 : “I spake openly to the world . . . and in secret have I said nothing.”)

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.

8:1-11 The will of God is made known by the works of creation, and by the consciences of men, but more clearly by Moses and the prophets. The chief difficulty is to get men to attend to instruction. Yet attention to the words of Christ, will guide the most ignorant into saving knowledge of the truth. Where there is an understanding heart, and willingness to receive the truth in love, wisdom is valued above silver and gold.A companion picture to that in Proverbs 7, and serving in some measure to generalize and idealize it. Wisdom also calls Proverbs 8:5 to the "simple" and the "fools," and they have to choose between her voice and that of the temptress. CHAPTER 8

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.).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.

Doth not wisdom cry?.... Christ, who is the Wisdom of God; See Gill on Proverbs 1:20; and which clearly appears from his subsistence with the Father, his eternal existence, and from many personal properties, characters, and actions ascribed to him throughout the whole of this chapter, and in the following. "Crying" is here attributed to him, which signifies proclaiming, publishing, preaching the everlasting Gospel, which directs men in the right way of enjoying peace, comfort, honour, and eternal happiness; the allusion is to an herald that this up his voice aloud at noon day in the public streets when he proclaims; and is opposed to the whispers of a harlot, at night, in a corner; truth seeks no corner, its voice is heard at noon day, it will bear the light. Now, "does not" or "shall not Wisdom cry", or Christ preach; verily he does or will, in his word, by his prophets under the former dispensation; in his own person, and by his apostles and ministers, under the present; who then would hearken to the alluring voice of a harlot, or hear Jezebel the wicked prophetess teach, when Christ himself preaches, or however by his faithful ministers?

and understanding put forth her voice? the same with Wisdom, or Christ, see Proverbs 8:14; by whose voice the Gospel is meant, which is the voice of Christ, which is heard and followed by the sheep of Christ, and not the voice of a stranger; and "putting it forth", giving or uttering it, signifies the publication of it.

Doth not {a} wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

(a) Solomon declares that man is the cause of his own perdition and that he cannot pretend ignorance, for God calls all men by his word and his works to follow virtue and flee from vice.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Proverbs 8:1-3. The call of Wisdom. Comp. Proverbs 1:20-21.

Verses 1-36. - 14. Fourteenth admonitory discourse concerning Wisdom - her excellence, her origin, her gifts. She is contrasted with the strange woman of ch. 7, and the exceeding greatness of the blessings which she offers exhibits in the most marked manner the nothingness of the deceiver's gifts. One is reminded of the celebrated episode of the choice of Hercules, delineated by Xenophon, 'Memorab.,' 2:1. 21, etc. The chapter divides itself into four sections.

(1) Introductory (vers. 1-3); Wisdom calls on all to listen, and gives reasons for trusting to her (vers. 4-11).

(2) She displays her excellence (vers. 12-21).

(3) She discourses of her origin and action (vers. 22-31).

(4) She again inculcates the duty of hearkening to her instructions (vers. 32-36). Verse 1. - Doth not Wisdom cry? (see on Proverbs 1:20, and Introduction). The interrogative form, which expects an affirmative answer, is a mode of asserting a truth universally allowed. Wisdom is personified, though we are not so plainly confronted by an individual, as in the preceding case of the harlot. But it must be remembered that, whatever may have been the author's exact meaning, however worldly a view the original enunciation may have afforded, we, reading these chapters by the light cast upon them by later revelation, see m the description of Wisdom no mere ideal of practical prudence and good sense, no mere poetic personification of an abstract quality, but an adumbration of him who is the Wisdom of God, the coeternal Son of the Father. The open, bold, and public utterances of Wisdom are in happy contrast to the secret and stealthy enticements of Vice. So Christ, the true Wisdom, says, "I have spoken openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and in secret spake I nothing" (John 18:20). The Septuagint changes the subject of this verse, and makes the pupil addressed: "Thou shalt proclaim (κηρύξεις) wisdom, that understanding (φρόνησις) may obey thee;" which seems to mean that, if you wish to acquire wisdom, so that it may serve you practically, you must act as a herald or preacher, and make your desire generally known. St. Gregory has some remarks about wilful ignorance of what is right. "It is one thing," he says, "to be ignorant; another to have refused to learn. For not to know is only ignorance; to refuse to learn is pride. And they are the less able to plead ignorance in excuse, the more that knowledge is set before them, even against their will. We might, perhaps, be able to pass along the way of this present life in ignorance of this Wisdom, if she herself had not steed in the corners of the way" ('Moral.,' 25:29). Proverbs 8:1The author has now almost exhausted the ethical material; for in this introduction to the Solomonic Book of Proverbs he works it into a memorial for youth, so that it is time to think of concluding the circle by bending back the end to the beginning. For as in the beginning, Proverbs 1:20., so also here in the end, he introduces Wisdom herself as speaking. There, her own testimony is delivered in contrast to the alluring voice of the deceiver; here, the daughter of Heaven in the highways inviting to come to her, is the contrast to the adulteress lurking in the streets, who is indeed not a personification, but a woman of flesh and blood, but yet at the same time as the incarnate ἀπάτη of worldly lust. He places opposite to her Wisdom, whose person is indeed not so sensibly perceptible, but who is nevertheless as real, coming near to men in a human way, and seeking to win them by her gifts.

1 Doth not Wisdom discourse,

   And Understanding cause her voice to be heard?

2 On the top of the high places in the way,

   In the midst of the way, she has placed herself.

3 By the side of the gates, at the exit of the city,

   At the entrance to the doors, she calleth aloud.

As הנּה points to that which is matter of fact, so הלא calls to a consideration of it (cf. Proverbs 14:22); the question before the reader is doubly justified with reference to Proverbs 1:20. With חכמה, תבונה is interchanged, as e.g., Proverbs 2:1-6; such names of wisdom are related to its principal name almost as אלהים, עליון, and the like, to יהוה. In describing the scene, the author, as usual, heaps up synonyms which touch one another without coming together.

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