1 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.[a]
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.[b]
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,[c][d]
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[e] 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.”
Written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus, the poem, “The New Colossus,” was once memorized by schoolchildren across the United States. Not unlike the Gettysburg address, boys and girls would stand and recite the famous Statue of Liberty’s poem until at least the final stanza made its way into the cultural zeitgeist of America:
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Like the original colossus before her, the Statue of Liberty has towered as a declaration of welcome, a larger-than-life symbol that what you were about to enter was different than what you previously knew.
Proverbs 8 tells a similar story, one of Wisdom’s position at the entrance to a city with a message to convey. But while the Colossus at Rhodes and the Statue of Liberty were imagined with human minds and constructed with human hands, Lady Wisdom’s beginning is of a much more ancient origin, brought forth by much more powerful hands.
Why does this matter to us? Why does Solomon transition immediately from warning us about the disadvantages of sexual sin into the tremendous, divine history of Wisdom? Perhaps it is because we are fickle creatures, too easily swayed by the allure of the new and now. We fall in love easily and out even more quickly. We know it, and God certainly knows it. Our attention must then be called entirely to something far more ever-lasting than ourselves.
The Colossus at Rhodes was a marvel of the world and yet only stood for 54 years. The Statue of Liberty has only endured for 135 years. Wisdom was brought forth by the Lord as one of His first works, formed before the creation of the watery depths that would eventually take shape and become the Earth. She was there before the mountains settled and before the hills emerged. She was before we were, constantly at God’s side, rejoicing in His presence and eventually delighting in His creation, Humanity.
No human mind imagined this Wisdom who is calling out to us today, and she certainly was not created by human hands.
So when you read her words today, when the ancient path to a God-fearing and prosperous life is laid out in front of you on the page, heed her call. Rejoice that God is sharing this eternity-old wisdom with you freely, that he is doting on you as a devoted Father who wants nothing more than to bless His child.
Lord God, Ancient of Days, thank You. Thank You that You see me, know me, and still love me so thoroughly that You are giving me the wisdom to live a life worthy of being called Yours. I bless Your Name, God, You who deserve all my affection and attention. Please return my eyes to You and my feet to Your path when I am prone to wander. Help me to turn away from the cries for attention thrown by the wind of a desperate and dying world.