Proverbs 8:22-36
The Voice Of Wisdom

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. Nobody wants to be a fool. Probably everyone would hope to live wisely rather than foolishly. To live wisely one needs wisdom. But to get wisdom one needs to know the kind of wisdom that is truly needed. What does the Bible say in regard to wisdom? In today's passage we will hear the voice of wisdom saying, "I am wisdom. I make my abode with deep thought and I guard knowledge and discretion," (verse twelve). We need to listen to the voice of wisdom to acquire wisdom.

I Am Wisdom

2. For starters, please look from verses twenty-two to twenty-six. The text states here that wisdom existed even before the creation of the universe.

3.

22 The Lord created me at the beginning of [his] path [in this world].
    [I] came even before his [other] eternal works.

23 In eternity past, I was blessed into [being].
    At the very beginning, I came even before the earth.

24 I was brought forth
    When the deep and the rising waters had not yet existed.

25 The foundations of the mountains were not set, nor were there hills,
    But, I had been born.

26 The land, the field, or even the first dust upon the earth
    Were not made yet.

4. The Bible says, wisdom "was made by God." "Made" is the word translated as "obtained." Then as the text has "it was brought forth," it doesn't necessarily have the meaning "made" or "created" by God. Whatever the original meaning in the text may have to show, wisdom did precede the creation of everything made and had pre-existed. The text says that "[I] came even before his eternal works." In other words, this wisdom means the same kind of divine wisdom that was involved in the creation of the universe.

5. In the creation of this world, the acknowledgement that God's wisdom was involved in it, is a simple stated acknowledgement held in common by those who take a close look at this world. For example, in Psalm one hundred and four, the psalmist lifts up his voice of wonder, saying, "O Lord, how innumerable are your works! You accomplished it all through wisdom. The earth is filled with the things you have made," (Psalm 104:24). As they looked at this created world, those who wrote Proverbs also did not fail to recognize that this world had a wisdom in it that preceded it.

6. So, the text is emphasizing that when wisdom was brought forth, it preceded all else. The text says in it that "even the first dust upon the earth was not made yet." The creation story recorded in Genesis has it that "The Lord God fashioned a man from the dust of the earth and breathed the breathe of life into his nostrils," (Genesis 2:7). But, the wisdom of God was already there when even the dust was not in existence. Quite naturally then, wisdom was already there in existence ahead of time when humans had not been born and before they were even made.

7. Wisdom speaks through the intermediary of a person. It says in the text that the intention of The Book Of Proverbs is "to discern wisdom and discipline, to understand the distinction in words, and so forth," (1:2). As for wisdom, a person gives it and a person takes it. But, people do not bring it forth out of themselves. Humankind does not bring it forth. People do no more than act as recipients of the wisdom of God, the wisdom that has been since the beginning, that existed from of old, that existed before the creation of the heavens and the earth. We should not lose respect for that fact. People need to be effected by [God's] wisdom, [and so] first of all they must fear and be humble before him.

8. Next, please look from verses twenty-seven through twenty-nine. Here the text declares that wisdom set a boundary on chaos and brought order.

9.

27 I was there
    When the Lord set the heavens in place
    When he drew the lines on the surface of the deep and set their bounds

28 When the Lord let the clouds have power from heaven
    When he gave forth the spark of life into the springs of the deep

29 When he laid the boundaries in the original seas
    So that the water would not cross over its banks
    When he set the foundations of the earth.

10. "The deep" and "the seas" that we have here in the text are symbolical things in existence that represent chaos. But, with his wisdom God gave boundaries to the deep and gave boundaries to the original oceans, and he brought forth order into the disorder. What is written in the text in Genesis in regard to the condition that "the land was chaos, darkness was on the surface of the deep, the Spirit of God moved on the surface of the waters," (Genesis 1:1) fits in with the description that God commanded "Let there be light" and the light separated the darkness. Even in Genesis, the creation of the heavens and of the earth is depicted as a process in which order is brought forth out of deep chaos. Proverbs records that the wisdom of God was working especially there, where it came before creation and had been brought forth.

11. I mentioned earlier that "In the creation of this world, the acknowledgement that God's wisdom was involved in it, is a simple stated acknowledgement held in common by those who take a close look at this world." If I may add something else to that, people [most likely] have seen the wisdom of God especially in the "order" of the created world and that is a very important acknowledgement - because it fundamentally means that human wisdom did not bring about the order in this world.

12. At times we arrogantly think as if it was we humans who drew the boundary lines out onto the chaotic seas. We think that if humans don't preserve the world some way or another, it will go back to its chaotic state and that if we don't guard ourselves somehow, our lives will fall apart and go back to chaos. But, that's way off. It was the wisdom of God, that gave order to this world, a wisdom that was already there when humanity wasn't even in existence yet. Whether the world or our lives, it is not because we don't preserve and guard it that unraveling comes, that it heads toward disorder. Rather, it is because we think as if we preserve the order with our own wisdom. By doing that, we deny God who fundamentally has given order to everything, and we deny God's wisdom.

13. Third, please look from verses thirty to thirty-one. Here the text states that human joy comes along with the wisdom that pleases the Lord.

14.

30 At his side I am a skilful person
    Day after day, it lets me take pleasure in the Lord
    Unceasingly I play music before the Lord

31 I play music with the people on the earth whom the Lord has made
    I take delight with the children of humankind.

15. It says, wisdom makes a "skilful" person. This is a craftsperson. In The Book Of Exodus, we find some craftsmen named Bezalel and Oholiab who took part in the construction of holy places. "The Lord filled him (Bezalel) and Oholiab son of Ahisamach from the tribe of Dan with hearts of wisdom, and allowed them to engage in every craft, he made them engravers, inventors with designs, weavers and embroiderers using blue, purple and scarlet wools and linens, he made them workers and designers engaged in every kind of craft," (Exodus 35:34-35). Perhaps, the wisdom of God, which took part in the creation of the universe, is being spoken about here with this imagery given.

16. But, it is not a joyless toil that is assumed there in the text. Quite so on the other hand, it speaks of this wisdom as a being that lets them take pleasure in the Lord day after day. Freely translated, to "play music" is "to have fun", "to laugh." With that phrase it expresses the joy and the pleasure [of the workers].

17. So, "children of humankind" appears here for the first time. It is we humans. Along with wisdom, humans also enjoy themselves. The Bible does not disallow joy and pleasure for people on this earth. We should enjoy the world God made with his wisdom. We should deeply enjoy the lives we live in God's world. But, the main thing then is why we can in a true sense enjoy it. Humanity can in a true sense enjoy this world because God's wisdom has been with us, it has been with us in the creation of the world, it had been there already even before the world was created. Fools, without the wisdom of God with them, cannot in a real sense enjoy this world no matter how much their aspirations come true or despite how many things they are given.

Obey Me

18. Therefore, as a result, we are commanded to obey this "wisdom." Please look from verses thirty-two to thirty-six.

19.

32 Well now, children, obey me.
     How blessed are those who keep my way!

33 Follow my instructions and obey wisdom.
    Do not take me lightly.

34 The one who obeys me asks at my door from day to day
    How happy is the one who guards the posts of my doorway!

35 The one who finds me finds life
    He or she will be able to have joy with the Lord.

36 The one who loses sight of me will harm his or her soul.
    The one who hates me loves death.

20. So, where should we find this "wisdom?" In The Book Of Sirach, written at a later time (in The Apocrypha, a sequel of sorts to the OT), this "wisdom" is on the same order as the law of Moses. In it there are columns where "wisdom" still speaks, but then afterwards, the text explains that "All these things are the book of the covenant of the most high God, even the law which Moses commanded for an heritage unto the congregations of Jacob," (Sirach 24:23). We see that the people of about the second century before the common era (B.C.) thought that the law was the wisdom of God that built this world, they found the law and that to keep the law was to find life.

21. But, we know that at the beginning of The Gospel According To John it says the following: "In the beginning was the word. The word was with God. The word was God. This word was with God at the beginning. The universe became through the word. It became and nothing that became did not come except through the word," (John1:1-3). Here we have in the text the "pre-existent Christ" who was with God, who is "the word," that is, that [essence] which [had existed] before he became human and had taken on flesh, he is on the same order as "the wisdom" that we had before in the text.

22. In sum, Christians found the wisdom of God, not so much in the law of Moses, but in the person of the one who was revealed on this earth, in the person of Jesus Christ, in his life, death and resurrection. They found the wisdom of God, which was before the creation of the universe, which was along side God at the creation of the universe. Therefore, for the Christian, the invitation of "O children, obey me," is not one to obey the letter of the law, but to follow the Christ who was crucified, and risen, and lives even now.

23. I said it at the very beginning. We need wisdom in order to live smart. We must obtain wisdom. This wisdom is Jesus Christ. Whoever finds Jesus Christ finds life.

 
Home | Translations | Both J-E | Chapel | Email