The Personification of Wisdom
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Proverbs, because we are now going to consider what is presented to us in chapter 8 of the book of Proverbs. Chapter 8 is actually the thirteenth lecture on wisdom which Solomon delivered to his son. It is indicated that after the preface and the introduction to the book of Proverbs, we find the first division to be comprised of thirteen lectures on wisdom with a summary which Solomon presented to his son. We said that twelve of these lectures all began with the same words—“my son.” This lecture does not, for it represents the personification of wisdom as it begins its summary of what wisdom will do in the life of the believer.

The Holy Spirit has already set the precedent for the personification of wisdom by personifying wisdom in chapter 1 of the book of Proverbs. What do we mean by the personification of wisdom? We mean that wisdom is not presented in an abstract form as an abstract commodity which you might assimilate, such as doctrine, such as teaching, such as instruction. Rather, it is presented as a person. In most instances it is presented as the Lord Jesus Christ, as we shall see before we are through with this chapter.

I am going to suggest that you read with me just a portion of this chapter so that we might have a basis for our discussion. Follow as we read:

Proverbs 8:

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.
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.

I would like to pause and emphasize that there is a natural division in the chapter at that point, but so that we might have continuity of thought in relation to personification of wisdom, I ask you to read further with me, though we will not be commenting on this portion in this lesson. Notice verse 22:

Proverbs 8:

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.

We pause there because that represents another natural division in the chapter. Continue to read:

Proverbs 8:

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.

Thus the chapter concludes. I suggest to you that wisdom personified is presented in verses 1-21 of the chapter as a companion of men in everyday living. I suggest to you that in verses 22-31 wisdom is presented as a companion of God in the early days of creation.

Of course, this would immediately suggest that we are looking upon wisdom in this series not as an abstract quality, as we have emphasized, but as a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ. You may wonder if we are considering Him Wisdom, a Companion of Men in the first portion why you see so often the feminine pronoun in the English translation. That is a grammatical problem that we do not have the time to enter into now. In the Hebrew, words are often presented in the feminine form, though the context indicates that a male is the subject of discussion.

The third portion of the chapter we have labeled The Blessings of Wisdom's Companionship , which is described in verses 32-36.

Contrasts Between the Loose Woman and Godly Wisdom

I now want to share with you what is contained in verses 1-21, as the Holy Spirit has brought it to mind—Wisdom, a Companion of Men . We do not know how much time elapsed between these lectures which Solomon delivered to his son. They were delivered, then gathered together in a book as we have them before us. For example, how much time there was between chapters 7 and 8 we do not know; but there has only been a week between our comments on chapter 7 and the comments we want to make on chapter 8, so it should not be too difficult for you to recognize what we are going to point out to you, which I believe is in the text and which I believe Solomon, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, meant to emphasize. I believe Solomon meant to emphasize a contrast between what he presented in chapter 7 and what he is presenting in this portion of chapter 8.

In chapter 7, you will recall, he describes for us a loose woman, an adulteress, a prostitute and how she spent all of her energy to be a companion of men. In this portion we are going to see how godly Wisdom uses all of His energy that He might be the companion of men that will profit them in a very distinct and definite way.

I think that the proper way for us to discuss this portion is to discuss it in the light of the contrasts which are presented between the loose woman who seeks to be a companion of men and godly Wisdom, who also seeks to be a companion of men. You will remember that the loose woman sought out the man in the dark corners of the streets, crying to him for companionship.

If you will look back at chapter 7 you will notice in verses 8-10 that the young man was passing through the street near the corner of the prostitute. He went his way into her house in the evening, in the black and the dark night, and behold, there met him a woman with the attire of a harlot and subtil of heart. The woman is issuing her cry in the corners of the street; Wisdom is issuing His cry in the conspicuous places of the environment in which it is found. Notice again verse 1:

Proverbs 8:

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.

You see, there is no slinking, sly proposition where Christ is concerned, but His propositions are open and above board and are available to all men. The paraphrased Proverbs and Psalms suggest that the verses might be summarized in the words: “At the city gates, at every fork in the road and at the door of every house, the Lord Jesus Christ—Wisdom personified—is issuing a cry which men must face and which they cannot escape.”

Invitation to the Simple Ones

It is one thing for men to be issuing an invitation; it is another thing for men to be issuing an invitation to people who leadeth. I think it would be important for us to notice the object of the invitation which is presented in the two chapters and by the two individuals before us. The object of the cry in both places is the simple ones. Go back, if you will, to verse 7, of chapter 7, where Solomon said:

Proverbs 7:

7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,

To whom does the loose woman appeal? Simple ones, void of understanding. To whom does the son of thy wisdom appeal to? To simple ones and fools. If you will notice chapter 8, verse 5, you will see what is meant when where we read:

Proverbs 8:

5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

I wonder what we mean by these terms: “simple ones, void of understanding…fools.” You will remember that in our last study we told you that simple ones came from the Hebrew word pthaiy , which means “void of understanding,” “lacking in experience.” A new word is added in our thinking. It is the word fools . There are three basic words for fools in the Hebrew tongue, and one must be careful when he reads the English word that he learn which fool is intended. This particular word fool , comes from the Hebrew word kciyl , which means “stupid.”

Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ makes His appeal to people who are open to persuasion, and He makes His appeal to stupid people, for as He presents Himself as Wisdom, He must consider that kind of folk. That kind of folk are stupid enough to think that they can manage their own lives, that they can follow their own pathways and that they do not need the help that God has to give to them.

God is persistent. He does not let men depart from Him without making every effort to meet their needs, just as in chapter 7 we noticed the loose woman spent every effort she could to persuade the young foolish man, void of understanding, to follow her ways. So Wisdom personified in Proverbs, chapter 8, leaves no stone unturned to persuade men that His way is the best way. That will become evident by way of comparison and contrasts if we consider for a moment the contents of the two messages.

The Loose Woman's Message is Sensual

The content of the invitation from the loose woman was a sensual one. If you will glance back at chapter 7, the paragraph beginning with verse 14 and going down to verse 21, you will recall we presented a description of an atmosphere that lent itself to loose sexual living. It was this she used to trap the simple youth whom she led to ruin.

Wisdom's Message is Spiritual

Wisdom, on the other hand, has a message whose content is a spiritual one. Notice verse 6, where Wisdom speaks. He says:

Proverbs 8:

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.

If we wanted to list the words which Wisdom uses, we might first list them in a positive way and say that Wisdom always speaks of excellent things. Excellent things are things which are honorable, something that you don't have to whisper about in the dark, right things, right things in relation to God, truth always based upon the Word of God, never upon the mere figment of the imagination of men. A man, though a fool, need not err when it comes to the truth which Wisdom speaks because in the portion of the Word we read in verse 9:

Proverbs 8:

9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

He who speaks knowledge will always find the Word of God true.

From a negative standpoint, we say to you that Wisdom abominates wickedness, for wickedness in any form is an abomination to the Lord Jesus Christ, and what He has to say will not ever have any relation to wickedness, nor will it have any relation to perversity or the things which are opposed to that which is right. Everything that Wisdom gives in the call it presents will be right—balanced in the manner that it should be balanced for Wisdom is the personification of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We learned in our last lesson, when we were talking about the activity of the loose woman, that eventually she persuaded the man to come into her boudoir and there the sin of the heart was consummated by the act of the flesh.

Truth Concerning the Importance of Wisdom

Wisdom is making its appeal and Wisdom expects a consummation of the relationship as did the loose woman, so the Spirit of God is pleased to use that thought to bring to your attention the truth concerning the importance of wisdom in the life of the believer. When the act was consummated in relation to the loose woman and the young man, ruin was the end. Look at chapter 7, verse 22, where we read:

Proverbs 7:

22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.

Any union with the loose woman of chapter 7 will consummate in ruin; but any union with Wisdom will consummate in riches and in honor. If we want to be more explicit, reminding you that we are thinking of Wisdom as the Lord Jesus Christ in this particular discussion, we say to you that any union with the Lord Jesus Christ will result in riches and honor as is presented in the paragraph to which we called your attention. Notice verse 10, please:

Proverbs 8:

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.
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.

The Spirit of God is pleased to use two illustrations in this paragraph which we have read. I don't know if you noticed them or not, but I would like to picture one of them as some scales in which Wisdom is weighed against what the world has to offer. In this side of the balances we have Wisdom and in the other side we have all of the things that were mentioned in the paragraph above that the world would use to outweigh Wisdom—the things which oftentimes the world considers far more important than Wisdom. Really the Spirit of God is issuing you a challenge, suggesting you get out your balances. On one side put Wisdom. Then on the scale first put some silver and see if it outweighs Wisdom. Pile on some gold. Will it do any better? No, it won't. Add some rubies. Will that help balance the effects of Wisdom in the believer's life? It won't. The individual who would be absolutely sure is saying, “Surely these things will outweigh Wisdom. Surely these things are better than Christ.” We would add fine silver, thinking that with all the others it would surely make a difference. It won't. So he adds fine gold and he says, “I know that the balances will begin to move and that Wisdom will be outweighed,” but that is not the case. Finally, in sheer desperation, he is willing to add whatever might be included in the two words all things . He adds all things to gold, to silver, to rubies, to fine silver, to fine gold, and the balances do not move, for Wisdom is more important than any of these things here.

The sad thing that most of us do not realize is that many people do not have that spiritual protection, and they remove Wisdom as the dust of the scales—not important at all. They beat themselves to death for everything that is on this side of the balance and it accomplishes absolutely nothing. God, in His mercy, is issuing an appeal here in chapter 8 to you and me to take the wisdom which He so freely offers and to recognize, though you may not know it by experience, what He knows already by experience: Wisdom is far better than anything this world has to offer.

Companions of Wisdom

Perhaps you noticed it and perhaps you didn't as I read, but there was another illustration in the paragraph and that was the illustration that Wisdom is constantly on the move because you are on the move. You don't sit still in this life. You are constantly on the move, and Wisdom never travels alone. He has quite a retinue in His company, so that if you get Wisdom, you get a number of other traveling companions of Wisdom. What are they? They are all mentioned in the paragraph that we read.

First, there is prudence. When you have wisdom, you have prudence. You have the ability to make the right decisions in the right way because you have good advice always at your fingertips. You don't need to be stumbling about in the dark saying, “I wonder what is going to be the end of this or the outcome of that.” Good advice is always at your beck and call—advice that is described as good, common sense .

Sometimes individuals feel that it is impractical to be a Christian, and folk often say, “Christians are so impractical.” Well, not the kind of Christians that have their roots in the Word of God. Those who have accepted Wisdom as a traveling companion have common sense and understanding traveling right along with them.

There is so much that the unsaved man does not understand. The Word of God is a mystery to them. He cannot explain it and he wonders why. The answer is a simple one. He needs to come to know the Savior, and when he has received Jesus Christ as Savior, then he is a spiritual man who is able to understand spiritual things.

Another traveling companion is strength, for the individual who travels with Christ finds the truth of the text, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Another companion is riches. Lest there be any question as to the kind of riches, you will remember that in verse 18 the riches are qualified by the word durable . Some of you may have enjoyed material riches at some time or other, but they have a way of slipping through your fingers. You cannot be guaranteed them permanently, but the riches which are provided by Wisdom are durable riches, and durable riches always result in honor that is God given.

The last thing that we will call to your attention is that righteousness is a traveling companion of Wisdom. That is the reason the Apostle Paul could say in I Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 30:

I Corinthians 1:

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

Solomon said, in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter.” Wisdom has something yet to say. Notice in verse 17:

Proverbs 8:

17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Think for a moment about that verse. “I love them that love me…” You say, “That doesn't speak of Christ. Christ loves those who don't love Him.” That is true; He does. He does love those who love Him. The Bible teaches that there is a special relationship between the individual who is in fellowship above the individual who is not. Notice in the last part of verse 17:

Proverbs 8:

17 …and those that seek me early shall find me.

I suppose I could spend some time in an application and suggest that this word early has a number of connotations, but the correct interpretation in light of the original tongue refers to the early days of youth. Some people say sometimes concerning young people, “They haven't lived long enough to have wisdom.” Well, in a sense, that is true, but a born-again young person (listen carefully to what I am saying to you), yielded to the Spirit of God, acquainted with the Word of God, oftentimes has more wisdom than an older person with no spiritual perception and no knowledge of the Word. It is never too early to teach the Wisdom of which we speak.

Notice verse 20:

Proverbs 8:

20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:

The individual who responds to the call of Wisdom need not walk alone any longer. He has the assurance there will be One who will be walking with him to point out the way. The individual, if you will glance down at verse 21, who receives Wisdom personified as the Lord Jesus Christ, will find the satisfaction for which we speak, for there you read:

Proverbs 8:

21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

You may find people out of fellowship who are dissatisfied with Jesus, but you will never find anyone who is walking in the Spirit that is dissatisfied with Him. When you find individuals speaking of their dissatisfaction with Christ, before you accept their word too freely, you might ask them what their relationship to Him is. People out of fellowship are dissatisfied because they are miserable. They are dissatisfied with anything, but when they are restored to fellowship, satisfaction is renewed.

Conclusion

May I suggest to you that if you find the lack of interest in spiritual things on your part, if you think this is not what you thought it was when first you knew the Lord, check your relationship with Him. It could be that you are out of fellowship. Will you remember that you do not have to commit murder to be out of fellowship. I mean by that, you do not have to commit some horrible, terrible sin to be out of fellowship. That root of bitterness that springs up so easily in so many of our hearts can put us out of fellowship almost more quickly than anything else I know of, and fellowship can't be restored until the bitterness is plucked up by the roots.


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