Proverbs 8 deals with the concept of wisdom. Let me try to focus our discussion here by looking at three of the most important questions I believe this passage answers: what is wisdom? What is wisdom like? And who is wisdom for?
First, what is wisdom? Whole books could be written on this subject, but Proverbs 8:22-31 gives us a hint at where to start. Notice that these verses describe wisdom’s role in the design of creation, and its relationship to man. Essentially, wisdom boils down to living well, by living in accordance with how God designed His creation to function. For example, wisdom tells us, among other things, not to walk off of cliffs. God designed His creation to function in a certain way—according to the law of gravity, in this case—and walking off a cliff neglects the wisdom in that design. If you want to live well, then it must be in accordance with God’s design for His creation.
That’s a trivial example, of course, but it serves to demonstrate just how vital a life of wisdom is: in relationships, in finances, and in everything else. In fact, our reading today reminds us that there is virtually nothing which can compare with the value of a life lived well, a life lived in wisdom: “all desirable things cannot compare with [wisdom]” (8:11). This reveals what wisdom is like: it is better than anything else you could ask for in this life.
If you think about it, that’s quite a statement. Nothing desirable can compare with wisdom. Having a successful career? Wisdom is better. Getting married and raising a family? Believe it or not, wisdom is still better. Even having a ministry with unimaginable impact? If it comes at the expense of wisdom, it just isn’t worth it.
Put this way, we begin to see that living in wisdom has a lot in common with living from an eternal perspective. It’s not that the things we might substitute for wisdom are in themselves bad—wanting a godly husband or a booming ministry is anything but wrong—it’s that they pale in comparison to what matters eternally. That’s why wisdom is so preoccupied with “the fear of the Lord” (8:13): it is only the fear and love of the Lord which can ultimately displace the idols of our hearts, and replace them with an eternal perspective.
And this brings me to the final question: who is wisdom for? This is the part where things become truly amazing. See, most of us know that wisdom is something to strive for and aspire to. Many of us can even pin-point what wisdom is and why it matters. But the awesome thing is that wisdom is for you, today: “those who diligently seek me [i.e., wisdom] will find me” (8:17, emphasis added). What a wonderful promise to embrace. If you will seek it diligently, wisdom—something precious beyond all else—can be yours, today.
If we want to live well, we must seek wisdom. If we seek wisdom, we will find it. And nothing else we desire can compare with that glorious promise.
Join the conversation! What connects with you from this post or what struck you from Proverbs 8?
I am a postdoctoral scholar studying theoretical nuclear physics at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where I live with my wife Allyson and nine-month-old daughter Georgia Clementine. I am a regular blogger for various Christian ministries and blogs, including GotQuestions.org,blogos.org, and CompellingTruth.org. I also have a (rarely updated) personal blog which can be viewed at caelienarrant.blogspot.com. I love learning about theology, philosophy, science, and apologetics, and then sharing what I learn with others.