Proverb’s personification of God’s wisdom, as Lady Wisdom, is at first a little perplexing.
Proverbs 8:4-5 –“To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.
To see God’s character personified, and then to see this character speak in the first person is quite curious.
Even more shocking, we find “Lady Wisdom” with Christ at creation:
Proverbs 8:22-31 – “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.Ages ago I was set up, at the first,before the beginning of the earth.When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.
To the untrained eye, this text brings up a lot of questions. In fact, the early Arians pointed to this text as proof that Christ was created, and, in fact, not Deity.
I am not a Hebrew scholar. I own the ESV Study Bible because I trust the scholarship in its study notes. Here is what the ESV study notes teach us in this matter:
“In the first few Christian centuries it was widely accepted that Christ was the incarnation of Wisdom in chapter 8. The Septuagint translation of 8:22 was read to mean, “the Lord created me” (see esv footnote; the Gk. might not be that specific), and thus the Arians (who denied the deity of Christ) found here a proof that the Logos (the “Word” of John 1:1) was a creature, and not God. But Athanasius, defending the deity of Christ, took the text to refer to Christ’s incarnation, and not to his preexistence. The esv renders the Hebrew verb qanah as “possessed,” which is a more accurate translation. The verse means that wisdom is the character of God by which he created (cf. 3:19), and therefore should not be taken as his creature; this is the wisdom he gives to those who will learn from Proverbs. In this light, neither side of those who based their discussion on the Septuagint had the correct understanding of the original Hebrew text.”
With this understanding, we are to pursue “Lady Wisdom” with all our might. Listen to her last words, in this chapter:
“And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:32-36)
There is a great deal of doctrine in those last two verses. As it says, we would all do well to seek, and understand. Those who don’t, are happy to be in their dead state, and will find great injury.
Did you find this personification curious when you first read it?