First Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31

The Person of Wisdom

22 "YHWH possessed me in the beginning of his work,
before his deeds of old.
23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning,
before the earth existed.
24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
26 while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields,
nor the beginning of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he set a circle on the surface of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above,
when the springs of the deep became strong,
29 when he gave to the sea its boundary,
that the waters should not violate his commandment,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth;
30 then I was the craftsman by his side.
I was a delight day by day,
always rejoicing before him,
31 Rejoicing in his whole world.
My delight was with the sons of men.

World English Bible

Proverbs was a book of wise sayings. Living according to the direction of the wise enabled the faithful to live in God's Law. Hence, the emphasis on the virtue of wisdom would not be surprising. But, the author of Proverbs wanted to state more. He wanted to vault the virtue to the highest. Wisdom came from God, the author insisted, and had a place of honor in creation..

In these verses, the speaker "wisdom" celebrated its priority in God's creation. First came "wisdom" before anything that was created [8:22-29]. Then, as God created everything, "wisdom" delighted in the Lord's work as his companion [8:30-31]. Finally, "wisdom" beckoned all to follow the Lord's ways (that could be found in Proverbs?) [8:32].

Scholars have fought over the meaning of wisdom's source ("create" in 8:22) and its place in creation ("master craftsman" in verse 8:30). Did YHWH beget wisdom like a mother? Or did he acquire it as a personal virtue? And, did wisdom have an active part in creation itself? Or, is it the way God created? The argument raged between those who took the language of an independent "wisdom" literally (as a "person") or figuratively (as a personal attribute).

Obviously, Christians have favored the more literal view. They have identified this person of wisdom at various times with the Word (Jesus) or with the Spirit. But, no matter how people interpret the author's meaning of "wisdom," there can be no doubt these passages (and those like them) were critical in the development of Christian view for God as three persons.

Have you sought wisdom? Did you prayer for the virtue? What happened?