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Paul Koptak: Here for the second time in the book personified Wisdom calls out like a street preacher, seeking hearers and followers.  She describes herself, her qualities, and her gifts and speaks of her existence at the dawn of creation. Her words not only contribute to our understanding of that creation but also to our understanding of the Word, who was with God in the beginning (John 1:1).

Roland Murphy: Chap. 8 is mind-boggling in view of the claims that Woman Wisdom makes. It is helpful to review these points. First we notice that she addresses all humankind, not just the naive or fools. The personification begins with relatively modest claims, those that are associated with wisdom in earlier chapters: truth, justice, value exceeding gold, etc. But there is an escalation when Wisdom becomes, as it were, a social worker, and is associated with kingship and universal rule, establishing justice and right by which rulers are to operate. The love relationship she has with her followers is a guarantee of prosperity, provided they walk in her ways. Then, in the astounding passage in vv 22–31, she affirms her origins from God, and from of old before creation.

David Hubbard: Scripture Outline

Introductory Call to Attention—Extended (8:1–9)

Self-Description of Assets (8:10–21)

Self-Description of Presence at Creation (8:22–31)

Concluding Call to Attention (8:32–33)

Beatitude as Summary (8:34)

Antithetic Summary (8:35–36)

The aim of the speeches in Proverbs 1–9 has been to accent wisdom’s worth and thus attract the young students who will be Israel’s future leaders to pursue it with might and main. This chapter is the core course in the teacher’s curriculum. It weaves together a number of key themes:

(1)  it features the attractiveness of wisdom by bringing to full bloom the buds of personification that sprouted in 1:20–33 and 7:4, as wisdom, in human guise, calls for attention and describes her credentials in most impressive terms;

(2)  it fills in the details of the picture of wisdom’s presence at creation sketched in 3:19–20;

(3)  it connects wisdom with the fear of the Lord by naming wisdom as the chief God-fearer (v. 13; see 1:7);

(4)   it links wisdom to practical deeds of righteousness and justice (v. 20; see 2:9–15);

(5)  it contrasts wisdom’s positive and profitable call with the seductive beckonings of the temptress whose face has appeared on virtually every page of these speeches (2:16–19; 5:1–23; 6:23–35; 7:1–27);

(6)  it illuminates the path of righteousness, the only viable route in life (v. 32; see 4:18–27);

(7)  it underlines the importance of choice by showing that issues which lead to life, on the one hand, or death, on the other (vv. 35–36), call for the strongest personal response—love (vv. 17, 36), the absence of which is tantamount to hate.

Jonathan Akin: Main Idea: You must be in a relationship with Wisdom in order to be wise in daily life.

  1. Marry Wisdom Because Jesus Tells You the Truth about Reality (8:1-11).
  2. Marry Wisdom Because Jesus Produces Right Living in His Followers (8:12-16).
  3. Marry Wisdom Because Jesus Rewards His Followers (8:17-21).
  4. Marry Wisdom Because Jesus Brings His Followers into Harmony with God, Others, and the World (8:22-31).
  5. Marry Wisdom Because Jesus Gives Abundant and Eternal Life (8:32-36).

One of the things I ask couples in premarital counseling is, “Why do you want to marry this person?” . . .  This is the question that Solomon wants to answer for his son in Proverbs 8. Solomon has told us repeatedly that wisdom is not a set of ideas; Wisdom is a person. Solomon has repeatedly tried to get his son to marry Wisdom. Here in Proverbs 8 he makes another push by telling him why he should marry her. He details all of her amazing qualities.


A.  (:1-3) Public and Universal Call

Does not wisdom call out?  Does not understanding raise her voice? 

On the heights along the way, where the paths meet,

she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city,

at the entrances, she cries aloud

Not restricted to some special elite group

David Hubbard: Wisdom’s call is certain (v. 1). The rhetorical question, clearly marked in Hebrew by the question indicator attached to the word “not,” tolerates no other answer but “yes.” Of course, wisdom does call. She shouts, in fact. She cares too much to keep silent. Her message is too important to be whispered. She has no intention of letting her righteous cause be drowned in the sea of wicked propositions that threaten to engulf the young — propositions from:

  • greedy savages (1:10–19),
  • from men of lying speech (2:12–15),
  • from women of smooth words (2:16–19),
  • from the perverters of righteousness (4:14–17),
  • from wretches who sow discord (6:12–15).

The battle is joined, and a shaky trumpet will not summon the troops. Wisdom leaves no doubt about the importance and meaning of her call.

Paul Koptac: The four terms of Proverbs 8:2 do not all describe the same place, but each is a prominent and public spot, near the place where public decisions were made and where speakers were heard.

B.  (:4-5) Personal and Targeted Call

To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. 

You who are simple, gain prudence;

you who are foolish, gain understanding.”

Targeted to those who need wisdom

Tremper Longman: She refers to them as “sons.” Thus, the audience presumed up to this point in Proverbs continues: young men who are at the beginning of their professional and marital lives. They are at an impressionable crossroads.

Roland Murphy: What she [Wisdom] has to offer (v 5) is intellectual (“learn!”) but preeminently moral, as the following verses make clear. She presents a doctrine that is to be put into practice.

Max Anders: From this point on, Lady Wisdom is the speaker, and she begins by making a direct appeal addressed to all mankind. Whoever wants to gain wisdom can do so by coming to her. She addresses the invitation specifically to two groups badly in need of her help. To the simple, who are naive and gullible because of lack of experience, she offers to teach prudence, so they can avoid the pitfalls of life. To the foolish, she offers understanding. Solomon uses the word for a fool who chooses his own way rather than God’s path but is not yet confirmed in rebellion.

C.  (:6-9) Purposeful and Righteous Call

Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. 

My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. 

All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. 

To the discerning all of them are right;

they are faultless to those who have knowledge.”

True and Just and Worthwhile and Right and Reliable

David Hubbard: In a society that bristled with perverse speech—crooked, foolish teachings, unreliable opinions and advice (2:12; 6:12–15) — words that you could bank on were worth their weight in platinum. The cluster of terms describing wisdom’s teaching is a who’s who of commendable expressions: “Excellent” (or “outstanding,” v. 6) suggests a loftiness and nobility of subject matter; “right things” (v. 6) and “right” (v. 9) ring with integrity and uprightness; “truth” (v. 7) connotes accuracy and dependability; “righteousness” (v. 8) points to straight talk that has a helpful, healing intent; “plain” (v. 9) also means straightforward, on target in terms of truthfulness and moral rectitude. Part of wisdom’s reliability is her rejection (“abomination,” v. 7) of everything that is the opposite of truth: “Wickedness” (v. 7) is the inner turbulence of those who choose against God’s ways and consequently disrupt the stability of their communities; “crooked” and “perverse” (v. 8) both depict twistedness, contortedness of speech that bends the truth either by deliberate misstatement or by conscious omission of relevant facts.

Paul Koptac: Wisdom speaks what is noble and precious (:6-11). . .  Knowing that one needs wisdom is the first sign of having it. If the words are right and faultless to them, what are they to fools — insufficient, false, worthless? Most likely, fools see her message as no use to them and reject it (cf. 1:24). But Wisdom begins her appeal, not with benefits to the listener, but simply by declaring the quality of her words. Because they are true and right, they are precious and valuable.

Jonathan Akin: The perceptive person knows that Wisdom’s words are right and that they will help him or her to navigate through this life, so they submit to her (8:9). Following Wisdom’s instruction is better than riches because Wisdom is vastly superior to worldly wealth (vv. 10-11). Nothing you desire can compare with Wisdom. Wisdom is the pearl of great price.

D.  (:10-11) Priceless and Preeminent Call –

Based on Surpassing Value of Wisdom

Choose my instruction instead of silver,

knowledge rather than choice gold,

for wisdom is more precious than rubies,  

and nothing you desire can compare with her.”


Jonathan Akin: Wisdom has associates that she will share with you: shrewdness, knowledge, and discretion. If you want these qualities, you have to know Wisdom. If you want these qualities, you have to go to Jesus. The ability to make right decisions, the ability to carefully consider a situation without making a snap judgment, and the ability to read people are available through a relationship with Jesus. Wisdom teaches you how to navigate life in a way that avoids your ruining things.

Wisdom here first shows you who to associate with, and then she tells you whom to avoid. The fear of Yahweh, which is the beginning of wisdom, is to hate evil (v. 13). She hates pride, arrogance, the evil way, and perverted speech (we saw that earlier in the text). She despises those who won’t humble themselves under authority and counsel. She will keep you off the wicked path if you embrace her. She will produce counsel, sound wisdom, insight, and strength in her followers (v. 14). Strength reveals that wisdom is not simply the ability to discern the right decision, but it’s also the wherewithal to carry it out.

Allen Ross: Wisdom’s lesson is now developed in two parts of ten verses each, the first pertaining to historic time (vv.12–21) and the second to primordial time (vv.22–31). The first emphasizes Wisdom’s counsel, understanding, and strength, and the second her nobility and authority (Waltke, 1:399–400).

A.  (:12-17) The Companions of Wisdom

  1. (:12-14) Those Exercising Good Judgment

a.  (:12)  Positive Companions

 1)  Prudence

2)  Knowledge

3)  Discretion

Tremper Longman: Although first-person speech begins in v. 4, a formal autobiographical introduction is found in v. 12, where the first-person speaker identifies herself as Wisdom and then proceeds to characterize herself. She does so first by talking about those qualities (and these may also be personified characteristics) with which she is associated — prudence, knowledge, and discretion — and then those from which she distances herself: evil, pride, arrogance, a perverse mouth.

Max Anders: Wisdom, you might say, lives with a family of other wonderful virtues. Prudence can refer to trickery (Josh. 9:4), but in Proverbs it always means good, sensible behavior. Knowledge describes not just academic attainment but knowledge of truth. And discretion in Proverbs means the careful behavior that arises from clear thinking. It is the opposite of recklessness. All three words refer to the ability to form sound plans.

b.  (:13)  Negative Contrast – “to fear the Lord is to hate evil

                                1)  “I hate pride

2)  “and arrogance

3)  “evil behavior

4)  “and perverse speech

c.  (:14)  Positive Companions

                               1)  “Counsel and sound judgment are mine

2)  “I have understanding and power

  1. (:15-16) Those Ruling Righteously

By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just;

by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth.”

Paul Koptac: This first mention of just government sums up all that has been said about right and just behavior, even as it looks ahead to the topic of kings and just government in the individual sayings of chapters 10–22. While many suggest that Proverbs was designed to train princes and courtiers, like other ancient Near Eastern instructions, there is no evidence in the speech that this feature of Wisdom’s activity is limited to court personnel. Wisdom stands in the public places, and her message goes out to all. She offers the same guidance to kings and commoners so that readers of the instructions can put the principles of good government into practice with one’s neighbor, doing justice, coveting neither goods nor spouse. Likewise, the pride, evil ways, and crooked speech that became the downfall of so many kings is rejected by the citizens as well.

Ray Ortlund: Even in the tough world of human leadership, Christ is the secret to success.  He knows his way around hardheaded deals and aggressive negotiations.  He knows how to get things done with agility, versatility, keenness, competence.  Oh, how we underrate his abilities and resources when everything is on the line!  And for a church, success does not require human rules.  Rules do not make people thrive.  Success requires wise, seasoned, humble, mature, Christlike leaders.  And in Christ you can become one of them.  He is generous with himself.

  1. (:17) Those Loving and Seeking Wisdom

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”

B.  (:18-21) The Rewards of Wisdom

With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. 

My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. 

I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice,

bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.”

David Hubbard: Wisdom’s rewards are listed as the climax of this section (8:17–21). Part of what makes wisdom different is her care (“love”) of those who value her (v. 17). Her call conceals no plan to exploit, no desire to use and then abandon. She is not only bright, she is good; she makes herself available to all who single-mindedly pursue her. Their welfare is her aim. And that welfare is detailed in spectacular terms: “riches,” “honor” (or “glory”), “enduring” material wealth (the second Hebrew word for “riches” is a synonym of the first), and “righteousness,” which here means “victorious success” based on maintaining right relations with God and His people (v. 18). She is like a productive orchard or vineyard whose “fruit” and “revenue” (or “crop”) are priceless. Righteousness and justice (see 2:8–9) may well be the fruit she refers to (v. 20). They describe how she comports herself (“traverse” or “walk”) and what accordingly she has to teach others (for righteousness and justice as fruit, see Is. 5:7). “Wealth” and “treasuries” may also be understood as more than materials. To would-be leaders charged with the implementation of righteousness and justice (see Ps. 72:1–2), what would be a greater boon than to have a vault stocked with those precious necessities.

Jonathan Akin: Getting Wisdom is most important, but there are blessings that will be added to you if you do. The rewards of wisdom are lasting riches, a good name, and righteousness (v. 18). This is not teaching a prosperity gospel because, as Proverbs has already shown us, the rewards may not come immediately in a fallen world. But there will be eternal blessings for getting Wisdom—Jesus. Wisdom says that what she produces in you—wisdom and righteousness—is better than money. It is better than money because she will lead you down the right path (i.e., obedience to the law), which means a greater reward later. She will reward you with an inheritance if you love her, and she will fill your treasuries (v. 21). Again, these kinds of physical rewards may come now, especially the rewards of a good reputation and walking in righteousness, but they will surely come in the new creation.


Paul Kopac: The second half of Wisdom’s speech is organized chronologically:

  • Wisdom was there before anything else (8:22–26)
  • Wisdom was present when the orders of creation were set in place (8:27–31)
  • Wisdom is now the one to whom we must listen (8:32–36)

This structure highlights the authority of her ways and words (8:32–33). To ignore them is to hate them, and to hate her is to love death (8:36).

Roland Murphy: This striking passage describes, in a mysterious way, the relationship of Woman Wisdom to the Lord. There is a strong emphasis on her origins and age. She was begotten of the Lord, and before anything else in creation. The style is unusual in its constructions: four times the use of the preposition “from” (“of old,” etc., in vv 22–23), and five times the implication of “not yet” (“when,” “before,” in vv 24–26). These constructions underline Wisdom’s origins before all else. But where was Wisdom? She was already present with God, at the very least witnessing if not cooperating in the creative acts that were taking place (vv 27–29); in addition to her special relationship with God, she finds delight in human beings (vv 30–31). This description is not only unexpected, but mysterious.

A.  (:22-23) Co-Existence from Eternity Past – Her Antiquity

The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, before his deeds of old;

I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.”

Louis Goldberg: We need to understand more fully, however, what is meant when 8:22 describes wisdom as being “brought . . . forth.”  The context suggests the clue for further information.  In 8:23 wisdom declares, “I was appointed,” and in 8:24-25 she says twice, “I was given birth.”  In the one instance, the emphasis is on an appointment in office, while in the other reference is made to a kind of “birth.” Since wisdom is linked to an eternal God, it is best to see her (1) as always existing, and then (2) appointed and brought forth for a ministry in the creation process.

Paul Kopac: Wisdom’s presence at creation suggests that she knows how the world was put together and therefore knows how it works, inspiring the poetry of later wisdom writers like the son of Sirach. The scene also inspired certain New Testament writers, who found fitting language to describe the exalted Christ, risen from the grave and ascended to the heavens.

B.  (:24-26) Co-Existence from before the Creation of Waters and Earth – Her Priority

When there were no oceans, I was given birth,

when there were no springs abounding with water;

before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world.”

C.  (:27-29) Co-Existence from before the Creation of Heavens and Seas

I was there when he set the heavens in place,

when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,

when he established the clouds above

and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,

when he gave the sea its boundary

so the waters would not overstep his command,

and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.”

Tremper Longman: The five specific acts are as follows:

  1. The establishment of the heavens
  2. The decree that constructs the horizon on the deep
  3. The strengthening of the clouds
  4. The intensification of the fountains
  5. The decree that sets the boundary of the sea

The first concerns the making of the heavens, while the last four describe elements of the construction of earth. In terms of the latter, all four describe manipulation of water.

D.  (:30-31) Delighting in Partnering in God’s Creative Activity

Then I was the craftsman at his side.  I was filled with delight day after day,

rejoicing always in his presence,

rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.

Tremper Longman: The most tantalizing part of Wisdom’s self-revelation is the section where she describes her association with God at the time of creation (vv. 22–31). As the section on exegesis pointed out, Wisdom was, in sum, the first act of God’s creation, the firstborn, so to speak. She was there before anything else was created and then witnessed the creation process itself. Indeed, the implication is not only that she was present but that she also participated in the creation. Her reference to herself as a “craftsman” (8:30) may indicate that she helped in the project. The result of her participation is that she had an intimate, joyful relationship both with God and with the human race. . .

If one wants to know how the world works and therefore how to navigate life with its problems and pitfalls, then Wisdom is the one to get to know. Who would know better how to act in the world than the one through whom it was made?

Max Anders: Wisdom was not only an observer during creation but an active participant. God used Wisdom in creating the universe. And if God used Wisdom for such a task, surely we need his wisdom for the problems we face. We can also conclude that the principles of Wisdom are built into the very structure of the creation, so it would be foolish to ignore them.


Lindsay Wilson: [This wisdom speech] ends in verses 32–36 on the theme of the two pathways, with a strong emphasis on wisdom as the way of life and thus the only sensible choice to make.

Max Anders: The way to happiness is to fall in love with Wisdom, constantly turning your attention to that pursuit.

Listen to Wisdom, and you will receive blessing! Wisdom closes her message with this appeal. The way to find blessing is to devote oneself to Wisdom. Listen to her words; keep her instructions; take every opportunity to spend time in her presence like a young man who devotes hours daily waiting near his loved one’s doors—just to make sure he misses no opportunity to be in her presence.

A.  (:32-33) Caution to Listen and Obey

Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. 

Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.”

B.  (:34-36) Blessing vs Cursing

Blessed is the man who listens to me,

watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. 

For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. 

But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”

David Hubbard: The tug of war between wisdom and folly for the loyalty of the heart is perpetual in Proverbs. It will dominate the argument of chapter 9. Here it is featured as a stark and simple summary of how wisdom sees the issues. They are white and black. The form is antithetic in that the first verse states the positive results of choosing wisdom, and the second the negative. Beyond that it is chiastic. The first line opposes the fourth, and the second line counters the third.