By Randy Dillon
Proverbs 8:10-21 “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. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honor are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherent substance; and I will fill their treasures.”
The eighth chapter of Proverbs is written as Wisdom speaks to humanity. The first nine verses serve as an introduction to the main section above. Three themes are provided which give enlightenment to things to which “wisdom” reacts. These are, roughly: (1) riches and treasure, (3) advice against pride, and (3) justice of rulers . We must read these verses as an anthropomorphic presentation of wisdom; that is, wisdom is presented as if it were human and speaking as a human being to its audience. As with many previous verses in this book, wisdom calls to mankind to “receive” instruction and knowledge. This indicates that wisdom originates external to mankind and that people must be open to receiving wisdom from its source, God.
First, we find that instruction and knowledge are better than silver and gold; better than rubies; better than anything which could ever be desired by a human being. In verses 8 and 9 wisdom declares that “riches” and “durable riches” are a part of its character, and that the fruit of wisdom is better than “gold” even “fine gold.” Its revenue (what it earns) is better than silver. This can be taken literally as in the sense of actual earthly riches or figuratively in the sense of spiritual riches or both. When Solomon asked God for wisdom to be able to lead Israel, he asked for the spiritual capability to make wise choices. Because he asked for a spiritual gift, God also granted to him earthly riches and treasure. Seeking wisdom is therefore related to the attainment of riches, whether on earth or in eternal life.
Second, wisdom results in a humble spirit. God despises evil, pride, arrogancy, and a froward mouth ( a mouth which is habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition.) Wisdom stands in direct defiance of these attitudes and actions. Wisdom leads one to the diametrically opposite position. Wisdom gives righteous counsel or advice. It is imbued with understanding and comprehension. And from these attributes it gains strength. One might here insert that wisdom garners its strength from truth. For while evil is always based on lies, wisdom knows truth which gives it strength to overcome evil and pride. Because it is based on truth, wisdom is also cautious and it is capable of discerning “witty inventions” which is an old way of saying it can see through the evil plans and schemes of those without Godly wisdom. The story of Esther comes to mind with the intrigue of Haman foiled by Mordecai and his niece Esther.
Third, wisdom is connected with the rule of kings and princes. Kings rule and princes give justice based on the wisdom they possess. History is filled with evil rulers who were not wise. Often, their dominance came to an end because they performed foolishly. Good rulers who were loved by their subjects, on the other hand, most often ruled wisely and often with Godly counsel. It is also often that these good leaders loved God and learned early in life that wise rule was directly connected to wisdom from scripture. Such is the case with Joseph, Moses and Joshua. This was the basis of their righteous guidance to their people and their ability to provide enlightened judgment for their people.
Verses 22-36 expound upon these themes and extol the existing eternal nature of wisdom even prior to the creation of the earth. Wisdom therefore is not simply knowing or comprehending things, but it results in objective realities on earth which are both physical and spiritual in nature.