May 13th 2018 – Proverbs 8:1-5

Does not wisdom call?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
    at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
“To you, O men, I call,
    and my cry is to the children of man.
O simple ones, learn prudence;
    O fools, learn sense.

After the solemn and indeed frightening emphasis of the past two chapters, it is almost a relief to come to this admittedly 'high-water mark' of the book of Proverbs - the wonderful delineation and personification of wisdom. We must bear in mind that wisdom has been the main theme of the introductory section of the book (chapters 1-9). Repeatedly it has been held up as something wonderfully desirable and urgently necessary in life, and always the emphasis on the mind and reason rather than on feelings or emotions. And now we have this sublime personification of wisdom in one of the most exalted passages in all the Old Testament. It is impossible not to read into it what the New Testament says about Christ being 'made unto us wisdom' (1 Corinthians 1:30); in the latter half of the chapter the 'identification' becomes irresistible (comparison should be made with Paul's words in Colossians 1:16ff and 2:3). Kidner's analysis of the chapter is, as always, helpful as a guide to study: Wisdom is the would-be guide of everyman (1- 5); the partner of morality (6-13); the key to all success (14-21); the very principle of creation (22-31); and the one necessity of life (32- 36). The picture in the opening verses is of wisdom down among men, in the streets, where they are a down-to-earth reality, on the initiative to seek men and impart to them its treasures, appealing to them to heed the voice that entreats them. It is not something remote, and inaccessible except to the few, but readily available to all. Since this is so, the implication is clear: lack of wisdom is culpable and inexcusable in us. If we are still unwise, we have turned to our own way when wisdom was at hand for us. One is reminded of the words quoted from Deuteronomy by Paul in Romans 10:8 about the righteousness by faith, 'The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart', not far off and difficult of access. It is there for the taking, nay more, thrusting itself upon men. This is why Israel was so inexcusable - all day long God had held out His hands to a disobedient and perverse people. This is how it is with wisdom.