“Sir, I perceive by the Book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to Judgment; and I find that I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second”…Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field, “Do you see yonder Wicket Gate? The man said, No. Then said the other, Do you see yonder Shining Light? He said, I think I do. Then said Evangelist, Keep that Light in your eye, and go directly thereto, so shalt thou see the Gate; at which thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.” (Pilgrims Progress, Bunyan)
Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress stands as one of Christianity’s greatest written works. It is the story of a man named Christian who goes on a quest to relieve himself of the great Burden on his back. In the passage above he meets a man named Evangelist who is able to tell him where to go to remove his Burden. Along his way, Christian meets a whole cast of characters identified by their attributes: Obstinate, Pliant, Mr. Worldly Wisdom, Good-will, Faithful, etc. Each character that Christian meets offers help—in the case of Faithful, the help is good; in the case of Mr. Worldly Wisdom, the help is bad. As I read Proverbs 8, I cannot help but think of Pilgrims Progress as we consider the attribute of wisdom as a real person.
Proverbs 8 personifies Wisdom as a woman who invites people to come and learn (1–5)—“To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.” She is a companion by whose virtues (6–11) we should all hope to live. To follow Wisdom brings reward (12–21). Wisdom existed before creation and has been with God since the beginning (22–31). In finding Wisdom, life is found; hating Wisdom is a love of death (32–36).
While all of Proverbs encourages the reader to pursue wisdom, Proverbs 8 encourages us to consider Wisdom as a life-companion. As we encounter the daily events and struggles, she is there to whisper in our ear how we should respond, how to think and feel, and to give us God’s perspective.
It should be said that many people have interpreted Wisdom as a reference to Christ—it is not, that was a heresy crushed at the first council of Nicaea. As one commentator writes, “The connection works only insofar as Jesus reveals the nature of God the Father, including his wisdom, just as Proverbs presents the personification of this attribute. Jesus’ claims included having wisdom (Mt 12:42) and a unique knowledge of God (11:25–27). He even personified wisdom in a way that was similar to Proverbs (11:19; Lk 11:49). Paul saw the fulfillment of wisdom in Christ (Col 1:15–20; 2:3) and affirmed that Christ became our wisdom in the crucifixion (1 Co 1:24, 30).” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary) The commentator goes on to point out that Wisdom, in this passage, was created by God (24), while Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, was not. He has existed with the Father and the Spirit from eternity past to eternity future.
While Wisdom does not join us in life as a companion, we do have an Interpreter, the Holy Spirit, who functions to constantly share with us God’s wisdom (John 14:26, John 16:7-11, 1 Corinthians 2:10). How are you doing living with Wisdom? Does your life exhibit the fruit of Galatians 5, as one submitted to the Spirit? What is one recent choice in which you’ve seen your decision-making change in light of the Spirit’s activity in your life?
Then said Interpreter [to Christian], “Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee.”
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate