The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Proverbs 8:1 Does not wisdom call, And understanding raise her voice? 2 On top of the heights beside the way, Where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3 Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, At the entrance of the doors, she cries out: 4 “To you, people, I call, And my voice is to mankind. . . 22 “The Lord begot me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 From eternity I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 When there were no ocean depths, I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was brought forth; 26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. 27 When He established the heavens, I was there; When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, 28 When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 When He set a boundary for the sea So that the water would not violate His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; 30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was His delight daily, Rejoicing always before Him, 31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of mankind. (NASB)
The assigned Old Testament lesson this morning is from the book of Wisdom, the book of Proverbs. Proverbs was written by King Solomon. The book of Proverbs contains sayings and songs. This morning’s reading consists of two sections from the second Song of Wisdom in the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, also known as the book of Wisdom.
The first Song of Wisdom is recorded in Proverbs 1:20–33. It begins, “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the open squares she raises her voice.”
In keeping with the two major themes of the Bible, the songs and sayings of the of Proverbs comes in two kinds. Law and Gospel. The first Song of Wisdom, the one that began in Proverbs chapter one is a song of chastisement/law. Wisdom rebukes those who have rejected Wisdom’s words and speaks of the judgment that will come at the end.
Proverbs 1:25-26, “Because you disdained all my counsel, and my reproof you ignored—I, in my turn, will laugh at your doom; will mock when terror overtakes you.” That’s about as harsh as it comes.
The second Song of Wisdom is different. The second song begins again with the call for all people to listen, but the message is different. “Does not wisdom call, And understanding raise her voice?” Here Wisdom does not take the reader to the end and judgment of the wicked as did the first song. Rather, the second Song of Wisdom takes the reader to before the beginning of all things, before time itself.
The second Song of Wisdom is a hymn of fellowship, creation, and delight wherein Wisdom appeals to her children to listen. “32 Now, children, listen to me; happy are they who keep my ways. 33 Listen to instruction and grow wise, do not reject it!”
When we think of creation, we naturally and rightly think of the creation account of Genesis 1 and 2. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” Out of nothing, God brought all things into being and nothing came into being that came into being apart from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The second song gives us a glimpse the Godhead in eternity before and during creation. And what do we see? We see the persons of the Godhead in fellowship and in delight.
Delight is defined as “great pleasure; joy.” Before God made the heavens and the earth, the things visible and invisible the Godhead lived eternally in great joy. This delight among the persons of the Trinity is the reason God created the heavens and the earth. And God delighted in His creation. Genesis 1:31, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good….”
But God first delighted in the persons of the Godhead and in particular in the person of Wisdom who was there from eternity and before creation. The second person of the Trinity said, 22 “The Lord begot me [“created” is not a very good translation] at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 From eternity I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 When there were no ocean depths, I was brought forth [ some translations use the word “born,” but that too is not the best translation], When there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was brought forth; 26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. 27 When He established the heavens, I was there.” Wisdom Himself was eternally begotten, not made being of one substance with the Father through Whom all things were made.
In the book of Proverbs there are two kinds of wisdom. The one kind is what most people think of when they think of the book of Proverbs. For example 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he grows older he will not abandon it.”
But there is also Wisdom is personified, Wisdom the Son and Word of God. Proverbs 3:19, “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, established the heavens by understanding.” St. Paul wrote of this kind of Wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30 “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” . . . “It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy.’” Sounds to me like James is talking about Jesus.
The Father begot the Son from eternity, and the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son. There in eternity the three persons of the Godhead delighted in one another in the fellowship of the Godhead. And here in time the three persons of the Holy Trinity work together to recreate a mankind and delighted in what He had and is making.
The Wisdom of God delights in two relationships. First, the Lord God delights in Wisdom and Wisdom delights in the Lord God. Second, Wisdom delights in the Lord God’s in mankind. Vv 30–31 “Then I [Wisdom] was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was His delight daily, Rejoicing always before Him, 31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of mankind.”
The Son of God is Wisdom and the Wisdom of God was the creating agent in creation. The Son of God/Wisdom was the “master workman” who was with the Father before the world was created, but who worked with the Lord God in creating the world.
The Father delighted in Son and The Son of God rejoiced in His Father. The Father, Son, and Spirit worked together to bring all things into being, and after the world was created, God called all things good.
The Lord God delighted in Wisdom and Wisdom delighted in mankind. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For in him [Christ] were created all things in heaven and on earth the visible and the invisible.” (Colossians 1:15-16). That was St. Paul. John also wrote about Wisdom’s/the Word’s role in creation.
St. John doesn’t use the word “wisdom” in describing the Son of God’s role in creation. He uses the word “Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.”
Before the world began, the Son of God was filled with delight for people. After the fall into sin the salvation of the world became the Son of God’s delight. Out of love and joy, Jesus came to save the people and ultimately restore creation to its intended glory.
The story of our salvation begins does not begin with the angel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary. Proverbs 8 shows that the story of our salvation begins in the delight of God even before the world was made. Ephesians 1:4-5, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
God the Father delighted in Jesus, who is His master workman. Matthew 12:18 quotes Isaiah 42:1 and applies Isaiah 42:1 to Jesus. “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul delights; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.”
The Lord God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made us and found delight in us. After we fell into sin, God the Father still delighted in His Son. Why? Because Jesus chose to come, to die for your sin, and to raise to eternal life.
God the Father’s delight in His Son precedes creation and is not diminished by His Son’s incarnation. God the Fathers said at Jesus’s baptism and transfiguration, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” Again we are to listen to God’s Wisdom, that is to God’s Christ.
When reading or listening to the Book of Proverbs, it is easy to think about us pursuing wisdom. In the Book of Proverbs we expect to encounter short proverbial sayings that teach us how to walk in the ways of God.
But here in Proverbs 8 we are not faced with words about us pursuing God and His wisdom. Instead, we find words about God pursuing us. That’s verses 2-4. “On top of the heights beside the way, Where the paths meet, she takes her stand; Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, At the entrance of the doors, she cries out: ‘To you, people, I call, And my voice is to mankind.’”
Before we ever pursued God, God pursued us. Before we ever delighted in God and His Word, God delighted in us. Psalm 18:19, “He also brought me out into an open place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”
The only-begotten Son of the Father has given you new birth as sons and daughter of God. In Christ, the wisdom of God. “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-24
You are the Lord God’s delight and His joy. You are His new creation, made so in the water and the Word of God’s Wisdom– Christ Jesus, whom we nailed to a cross and put death. But whom God raised Him from the dead.
May the peace that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.