Today: [Proverbs 8] The Pre-Existence of Wisdom. Proverbs chapter 8 puts for a poem of sorts that personifies wisdom as a woman. Gnostic influences take this passage and humanize wisdom as the lady Sophia. Watchtower adherents use this passage to show (in their view) that Jesus is not God and that Christ is a created being not part of the god-head. Proverbs 8 is one of the most discussed and even debated passages in the book of Proverbs and even the Old Testament itself because it touches on theological issues of deep import. The need for us however as devotional readers is to look past the controversy fueled by commentators and theologians and see the wisdom of God that calls out to us in order to instruct us and bring us into the blessedness of relationship and communion with the Father.
[Pro 8:1-36 KJV] 1 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? 2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. 3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. 4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice [is] to the sons of man. 5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. 6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips [shall be] right things. 7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness [is] an abomination to my lips. 8 All the words of my mouth [are] in righteousness; [there is] nothing froward or perverse in them. 9 They [are] all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. 10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. 11 For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. 12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
Proverbs 8 begins with a declaration of the excellence of wisdom. Solomon speaks of wisdom as a woman crying out in the gate of the city. We know from 1 Cor. 1:30 that the apostle Paul states that God made Jesus to be our wisdom. By this we understand that wisdom comes to us in the person of Christ. Because of this interpreters of various doctrinal positions see Proverbs 8 as an exposition of Christ as our wisdom. The Watchtower Society, or Jehovah witnesses read this passage and based on what they claim it asserts they suggest that Jesus is not God for Christ or wisdom is portrayed in this passage as a created being. Ancient gnostics anthropomorphize wisdom as a woman they name lady Sophia and from that point come up with 100’s if not 1000’s of demi-urges, god-like creatures and beings in a plethora of expressions and fanciful suppositions throughout the bible.
To any devotional reader it seems apparent that in speaking of wisdom as a woman Solomon is employing a literary artifice to emphasize the universality of wisdom and the availability of wisdom to even the least learned of men and woman.
13 The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. 14 Counsel [is] mine, and sound wisdom: I [am] understanding; I have strength. 15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. 16 By me princes rule, and nobles, [even] all the judges of the earth. 17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. 18 Riches and honour [are] with me; [yea], durable riches and righteousness. 19 My fruit [is] better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. 20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: 21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.
Verse 13 speaks of the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, pride and arrogance. We do not first hate these things in others for that would make us hateful, evil, proud and arrogant. We must first hate these things in ourselves. As all anger is not sinful (see Eph. 4:26) likewise all hatred is not wrong. There is a pure and holy hatred that we should pause and consider. David wrote of hating those who spoke against God:
[Psa 139:21-22 KJV] 21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
In Proverbs 6:16-19, previously studied – we see 7 things that God Himself hates:
[Pro 6:16-19 KJV] 16 These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
We should make no mistake that there is hatred in God. We are created in God’s image. The fact that we have the capacity to hate is a God given trait because God has the ability and does in fact hate. He hates:
1. A proud look.
2. A lying tongue.
3. Hands that shed innocent blood.
4. Hearts that device wicked imaginations.
5. Feet that are swift to mischief.
6. A false witness (corroborating lying tongues)
7. He that sows discord among the brethren.
Notice that 6 of the items on the list are things – but the 7th thing is a person, specifically a person who sows discord among brethren. We can see this echoed in the life of Jesus. He was the friend of publicans and sinners. He shows throughout the gospels great restraint toward many. He seems to have reserved His denunciations for those such as the Pharisees who stirred up strife, division and contention constantly among the people, fostering a culture of “us vs. them” hypocrisy in the culture of 1st century Judaism. This gives us pause, or should give us pause in considering what role we as Christians are taking in the divisiveness of our own culture. We divided by race, color, creed, political stripe and sometimes Christian voices are the most strident among us but what of God’s hatred for discord and those that sow discord? The writer of Hebrews said:
[Heb 12:14 KJV] 14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Paul exhorted the community of believers at Rome:
[Rom 12:16-18 KJV] 16 [Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Sometimes the only peaceable thing we can say is nothing at all. Sometimes the only peaceable thing we can do is nothing at all. The term “love one another” appears 5 times in the scripture. In John 13:35 Jesus stated that the world would recognize us as His disciples by our love one for another. Our passion to love one another and to show love to the world at large should be the most prominent feature of our character as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. If that is not so then we need to ask ourselves just how far we are straying by our words and actions into the persona of that person spoken of in Proverbs 6:16-19 that God hates?
22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24 When [there were] no depths, I was brought forth; when [there were] no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 27 When he prepared the heavens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30 Then I was by him, [as] one brought up [with him]: and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him; 31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights [were] with the sons of men. 32 Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed [are they that] keep my ways. 33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. 34 Blessed [is] the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. 35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. 36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
Here in the final passage of the chapter we find reference to the pre-existence of Wisdom. While some suggest that this passage speaks of the creation of wisdom the wording doesn’t actually say that. The statement here speak of wisdom as being present with God before the world was created but there is no intimation of wisdom as a created thing. The point is that wisdom was a part of God’s nature that preceded creation and reaches down to us today. Because wisdom is pre-existent from even the earth itself verse 32 tells us then we should seek her and listen to her instruction.
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