Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Proverbs 8: Wisdom at Creation

I'm preaching Proverbs 8-9 at the end of this month, and in November. Googling around I found a few references to it... Firstly, there is Michelangelo who famously portrays creation in the Sistine Chapel, notice the woman 'wisdom' next to God as he creates. Secondly, William Cowper wrote a hymn based Proverbs 8:22-31

Ere God had built the mountains, Or raised the fruitful hills;
Before he filled the fountains That feed the running rills;
In me, from everlasting, The wonderful I AM,
Found pleasures never wasting, And Wisdom is my name.

When, like a tent to dwell in, He spread the skies abroad;
And swathed about the swelling Of ocean’s mighty flood;.
He wrought by weight and measure, And I was with him then;
Myself the Father’s pleasure, And mine, the sons of men.

Thus wisdom’s words discover Thy glory and thy grace,
Thou everlasting lover Of our unworthy race!
Thy gracious eye surveyed us Ere stars were seen above.
In wisdom thou hast made us, And died for us in love.

And couldst thou be delighted With creatures such as we!
Who when we saw thee, slighted And nailed thee to a tree?
Unfathomable wonder, And mystery divine!
The voice that speaks in thunder, Says, “Sinner I am thine!”

Anyone aware of any other examples of the reception of this text in previous generations?

Cowpers hymn captures the flow of the latter half of Proverbs 8 well and is a great gospel shape for a sermon on the passage.We encounter Wisdom, the Father's delight who delights in us. But will we listen and live or refuse and die. Wisdom is particularly pertinent in the apparent crises of our day - call in the experts (Sir Alan...) - here is the ultimate expert, Wisdom.


  1. hey dave!

    have u heard wisdom in proverbs 8 being referred to as the Holy Spirit?

  2. I have, I'm not convinced. Clearly the Spirit plays a key role in us receiving wisdom, but its hard to evade texts that say "Christ our wisdom" or that the gospel is God's wisdom.

    We need not be thrown off by the female language - to personify Christ in the role of Lady Wisdom, one of two wives a father instructs his son about is great literature.

  3. have you thought of how Christ has wisdom?

    i've thought of it in the context of the eternal Christ with the eternal 'indwelling' or 'permeating' wisdom of the Spirit.. it might touch on the Q of filioque! and when we are elected in the Elect One, we are also given the indwelling Spirit Who Christ had before the incarnation.. or even creation.

    i'm personally thinking of luke 2:52 and 1 cor 2 when Christ grew in wisdom and the Spirit being an important aspect of both being Wisdom and testifying to Christ as a form of wisdom, so there must be some type of connection between Christ and Spirit as both defining "Wisdom" in Proverbs 8.. some type of perichoresis going on there.

    maybe the female language has to do with intra-trinitarian subordinationism... like BOTH Christ and Spirit 'inferior' to the Father. maybe.

    that sort of thing. :)