There are several occasions in the Bible, where prominent men stood before large crowds and preached Christ – or prophesied judgment – or simply gave their testimony. I suppose the first recorded was Moses; then besides the apostles, there were prophets and others. And here in Proverbs 8 we have perhaps the most unique speaker of them all.
I have decided to look at this chapter – this testimony – as a unit. We could cut it apart and consider some of the more memorable verses, and perhaps we will next week. But tonight, I’d like us to rearrange some of the verses according to their subject and simply let the speaker tell her story.
Who is it that cries out and puts forth her voice?
She identifies herself as “wisdom.” I know we must not remove this speaker very far from the eternal Son of God. Christ is wisdom personified and perhaps even deified. “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” But for the sake of this lesson, let’s think of wisdom as simply the highest and most practical form of knowledge. And that begins with the knowledge of God. And this wisdom is female; the Hebrew word is feminine, and the pronouns used here are feminine.
Part of who she is can be seen in how she “cries.” There are two closely related Hebrew words translated “to cry”. One is basically, “Hey you over there, come listen to what I have to say.” But this word is more personal, intimate – she calls certain people by name; she calls us – you and me.
She can do that because was created by the almighty, omniscient God with that ability before creation. Verse 23 – “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth.”
Who is the speaker in this chapter? Why should we listen to her? Because this wisdom has been and still is God’s delight. “I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” Not every man has a right to be heard; not every woman should be given our attention. But by her special relationship to the Lord, this woman, “Wisdom,” should be diligently heeded.
From where does Wisdom cry?
She calls to us from the most prominent places she can find. Verse 2 – “She standeth in the top of the high places.” In this case, I’m not going to apply these “high places” to the cathedrals and idolatrous high places. Wisdom pleads to us from our mother’s favorite chair, and the head of the dinner table and the pulpit.
She calls to us from the busiest places of commerce and government. Verse 2 – “She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.” Every place where decisions are to be made and lives are changed, there she is.
And why is she so busy about her crying?
Because we are all fools by nature. “O, ye simple, understand wisdom; and ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.” She wouldn’t have to plead with us, if we weren’t already as dumb as the ox or a stump.
She cries out in the market place, because she is more the key to wealth than the commodity we are trading. Verse 10 – “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” Verse 17 – “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.” What is more valuable and what will God more abundantly bless – the $100 we earn through stupid dishonesty or the $10 earned through honest hard work?
Wisdom has a very practical gift for the person who harkens to her. Verse 12 – “I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.” Not only can wisdom point out the bad investment or invention, but she can guide us toward the best. She is at the root of genuine and eternal wealth. Verse 21 – “I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill her treasures.” Verse 32 – “Now therefore harken unto me, O ye children; for blessed are they that keep my ways.”
Wisdom provides the basis of sound government. Verse 15 – “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” The person who rules his own heart well is a prince or a princess.
And in wisdom is safety. Verse 20 – “I lead in the way for righteousness, in the mist of the paths of judgment.” If you aren’t sure that righteousness and judgment are places of safety, then you don’t know the Lord.
Taking us back to the Lord Jesus – Wisdom is the source of life – abundant life on earth and eternal life as well. Verse 35 – “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.”
Can we be more specific – about what is it that wisdom cries?
She speaks of only the very best of things; you don’t need to question what it is she tells you. Verse 6 – “Hear, for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.” The word “excellent” speaks of nobility; and the “right things” are sweet as well as right.
The word “wisdom” is sometimes used by wicked men to speak of cleverness and the ability to maneuver successfully in a wicked world. But the wisdom of which I speak; the wisdom of God involves nothing but truth. Verse 7 – “For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” “All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.”
Remember, wisdom may be out in the streets, calling people to listen to her words and her testimony. But only those upon whom the Lord has bestowed His grace will give her any serious consideration. How many hundreds of people, or how many thousands of times, has the gospel entered the ears of lost people in our church, but they have not responded? Yet, the testimony of Wisdom is obvious. Verse 9 – “They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.”
If I invented the next greatest thing in technology; if I held it in my hand, and demonstrated its usefulness; if I told you that I had funding to produce my invention and I had marketing to sell it around the world; if I clearly proved to you that if you invested a mere $10, you would become a millionaire in less than 3 months, you would be a fool not to invest your $10.
This scripture tells us that this divine creation – wisdom – is infinitely more valuable than a million dollars. And the only investment we have to make in order to enjoy this infinite wealth is to listen and heed. We are fools not to commit ourselves.
That is what Proverbs 8 is telling us.