Growing up, sleepovers at my Grandma’s meant one thing—rolled pancakes! This was her signature recipe and my favorite breakfast. She invented and perfected these buttery, sweet, crepe-like, yet pancake-like, powdered sugar-dusted, spiraled gems stuffed full of calories. She shared this top-secret recipe with me…the problem? I’ve never been able to perfect it like her. I watched her cook these countless times and participated in the prep just as often, but still mine just aren’t as tasty as Grandma’s. I follow the master’s instructions closely, and after I burn the first couple, I create the closest replicas I possibly can of her melt-in-your-mouth delicacies. But it just isn’t the same! The only way I even get close is by replicating every detail, down to the apron I wear, just like my Grandma. I have decided that my Grandma will forever be the rolled pancake role model! Our quest for biblical wisdom can be a lot like my sub-par pancake skills, trying our best and getting it almost right. Lady Wisdom sets the standards for biblical wisdom and gives instructions for us to follow suit. The biggest help for us to get things right is to know the method, the skills, and the person we’re copying. To be wise, we must know the Most Wise.
The book of Proverbs is classified as “wisdom literature,” defined by the ESV Study Bible as “the writings that reflect on or inform that orientation which allows one to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world.” Wisdom literature, simply put, tells us how to live the way we are supposed to before our God. Our passage, Proverbs 8:22-36, is part of the “Invitation to Wisdom” where the reader is taught the contrast of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly, while instructed to discern the path of wisdom. At this point, it is Lady Wisdom’s turn to speak, and she declares some very important clues from her biography to inform us of her real identity.
Wisdom always has been. When God was creating all things at the very start, she was there for it. She was—before the sun, before the flowers, and before the “love at first sight” romance novel called Adam and Eve. Lady Wisdom shares, “Before the beginning of the earth, when there were no depths or springs, before the mountains and hills, before the fields and the dust (or humans); I was; therefore, I saw the establishment of the heavens, I was a part of the making of the skies, and I helped establish the limits of the sea at the shoreline” (verses 22-31). The reader can see that this wisdom mentioned is the very same wisdom the Creator God relied upon for the fashioning and establishment of the heavens and the earth. This is not a different brand, shade, or even model of wisdom. It is the original! The best! She was the wisdom of God.
Lady Wisdom did not lose credibility at the turn of a decade like my Limited Too fashion choices. The wisdom we still call on, look for, and listen to is God’s wisdom seen from the start. In verse 32 she switches to the present tense with the transition, “And now.” She asks for the reader to listen presently, to hear, to do, to watch, to wait, to find, and to obtain. The tense of these verbs demands the present response of the reader. This means that wisdom is unchanging because it is still current. Following godly instruction still results in blessings for the believer (verses 32, 34), even though we rejected godly wisdom with the fall of man in Genesis and our modern culture looks way different than the perfection of the Garden of Eden. The wisdom that was from the start and is revealed and explained to us in Scripture is still the same wisdom we are to consult before every ambition. When we think the experience and opinion of someone who has “been there and done that” before is more relevant and dependable than Lady Wisdom’s timeless input, we set ourselves up for injury (verse 36). Lady Wisdom still is.
So, Who Is She?
She is our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ poetically personified. She is the description of the most righteous and wise man who would later walk the earth. We know this because humans did not experience the breath of life until the 6th day of creation when God said, “Let US (the trinity) make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness” (Gen.1:26a). Lady Wisdom insists on her partnership in creation and inserts herself in the Trinitarian “Us”. John 1:1-4 describes Jesus just as Wisdom’s self-description with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” 1 John 1:1-2 also adds, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.” This means that the description of the proverbial character, Lady Wisdom, is ultimately a description of the sinless and most wise Savior, Jesus, who bestows eternal life to those who put their faith in Him.
In our lives as we seek to do what is wise, it isn’t just the good advice of Lady Wisdom we agree to apply, but the standard of Christ’s holiness that we strive toward as our example. His demeanor, His style of communication, His work ethic, His ordering of important things, and His leverage in relationships for the sake of other’s salvation is what wisdom perfected looks like. Like my Grandma set the rolled pancake standard, so did Christ with the standard of wisdom.
As a girl who loves a good coffee date (or froyo date if that’s your thing), I am guilty of giving and accepting “coffee shop wisdom” and crediting it as more trustworthy than Jesus’ righteous wisdom that is displayed for us. I make the lame excuse that I need to hear the truth from someone who loves lattes and has “real life experience with this type of thing.” I neglect the fact that Jesus was in fact tempted in every way and still didn’t sin (Heb. 4:15). I have to realize that the women I look up to for wisdom can give me no advice more accurate or practical than the recorded Gospels of the incarnate Wisdom of God. Since we know that wisdom has always been and will always be what we seek as Christians, we should look to the righteous life of Jesus to answer our present “what do I do, where do I go, how do I respond?” questions.
Praise to you, the wise God who creates and sustains. Thank you for giving me access to that type of wisdom through my relationship with Jesus. Empower me to seek your advice first in Scripture and to model my life to look like Christ’s because He is true wisdom.
ESV Commentary on the book of Proverbs