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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 8
8 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have insight, I have power.
15 By me kings reign
and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
and nobles—all who rule on earth.
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
and making their treasuries full.
22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.
32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death.”
Proverbs 8 is a speech from Lady Wisdom, calling us to moral living. Lady Wisdom is not literally a human character. Solomon is using a literary device called personification, giving human-like attributes to the non-human concept of wisdom throughout these couple of chapters. This section of Proverbs, chapters 1-9, is distinctly different from the pithy statements of most of the book. Instead of giving us specific advice for when we are at a crossroads, Solomon first takes time to introduce us to both wisdom and folly. The first third of this book serves as an introduction to the actual proverbs.
Verses 1-5 tell us who Lady Wisdom is giving her speech to. She raises her voice in the busiest and most visible parts of the city, and she addresses all mankind. By painting this word picture of a woman giving a speech in a city, Solomon teaches two things about wisdom. First, wisdom is available in all places. Second, wisdom is offered to anybody. We need neither to go anywhere special, nor possess a special level of intellect to obtain wisdom.
We see a repeated theme in verses 10-11 and 18-21, where wisdom is compared to gold, silver, and rubies. How is it that Solomon can say that wisdom is worth more than the most valuable possessions of his day? Wisdom can be defined as the ability to make moral decisions. For someone to be able to attain any sort of material wealth that is lasting, they must have this ability. If a thief steals gold, he can be caught and lose his wealth. But wisdom buys us far more than just an ability to attain precious materials, it also teaches us how to build up wealth that is not monetary. We are unable to live in a right relationship with our friends, family, and especially our Creator without having wisdom. We know that in these relationships we can find a type of joy that far outlasts anything that money can buy for us.
- What limits do you place on yourself when it comes to seeking wisdom?
- Does your life reflect the truth that wisdom is worth more than wealth?
- Where do you need to ask God for help in making a specific decision?
Check out this helpful video commentary on Proverbs 8 produced by The Bible Project. The Bible Project has only made a handful of chapter-specific videos and Proverbs 8 is one of them. It explains the concept of personification brilliantly.
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