We are using the C of E lectionary readings, which differ from the Revised Common Lectionary passages this week.
Proverbs 8:1 and 22-31
MONDAY, JANUARY 29
Proverbs 8:1 and 22-31
Wisdom is described like a personality, and as the first of God’s works, involved in Creation.
1 Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?
- Wisdom and reading on, from 9:13 Folly, are both given personalities and speeches. Both offer a similar initial appeal to the “simple” or undiscerning – but with very different outcomes.
- The next 20 verses set out why wisdom is good (or better), being trustworthy, true, hating pride and arrogance and leading in awe of the Lord. The next part of the discourse is like a hymn of praise setting out the long history of the Lord’s wisdom.
22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works, before His deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
- Wisdom is described in the same terms as the Word of God: present from the beginning and therefore eternal.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water…
- These verses are sometimes taken to be a description of Christ; better, to take them to show wisdom’s role in creation, alongside Christ as the divine Word (John 1:1-5).
- Wisdom is not a person, but it comes from a person, namely God Himself, and does not exist outside of God. The highest expression of wisdom is Jesus Christ, Col. 1:15-17, 2:3 and this wisdom is an expression of His character and nature.
25 …before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before He made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth.
- When God set about creating the world, Wisdom – His wisdom – was already operating.
- Verses 24-26 reflect the account of the Creation:
v.23 and day one, the earth;
v24 and day two, water; and
vv.25-26, day three, the land.
For further study, compare these verses with the Creation account, Prov. 8:23-26, Genesis 1:1-13.
27 I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when He established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when He gave the sea its boundary…
- “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb?” See Job 28:8-9.
…so the waters would not overstep His command, and when He marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly at His side.
- Where is this argument going? In v.27 above “I was there…” and v.30 “constantly at His side”, so reading ahead to v.33 (not shown) “listen to my instruction…” “…for those who find me (wisdom), find life and receive favour…”
- If Wisdom and the Word of God are not exactly the same, here it is shown that there is a close affinity. We could hear the Lord saying, “those who find Me, find life…”
I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence,
31 rejoicing in His whole world and delighting in mankind.
- God’s creation of man in His image was the high point of His creation, Genesis 1:26, Psalm 8:5.
It sounds at first as if ‘wisdom’ is a poetic name for the Lord, but it turns out that wisdom has been formed and fashioned, playing its part in Creation and in every aspect of God’s purpose subsequently.
Knowledge is one thing; how to use that knowledge is where wisdom comes in (which is also helpful in understanding the spiritual gifts, word of knowledge and word of wisdom, 1 Cor. 12:8).
This is a description of the outflow of the heart of God, particurlarly the part that knows how the world was created and therefore how everything works.
It is also (by context) a description of how we are constantly presented with choices, with encouragement to choose God’s way rather than the alternative.
How do we receive God’s wisdom? By having the humility to know we need it – and to ask for the Holy Spirit to give us His wisdom, with the intention of receiving and using it, rather than reverting to our own ideas, James 1:5-8.
For reflection or discussion
For further study: read on into Proverbs 9, beyond 9:13.
- Wisdom and folly can seem all too similar – and man’s wisdom can all too quickly turn out to be no wisdom at all. How do we recognise and choose God’s wisdom?
Also published on Medium.