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by David Phillips

A Broad Term
In Proverbs, the English word wisdom comes from about 4 different Hebrew terms meaning (1) skillful, as an artisan or craftsman; (2) prudent and circumspect, as with common sense; (3) upright, with a moral emphasis; and (4) understanding, implying discretion and patience. These terms are all used variously in the context of this book to impart to mankind the skills we need to live successfully before God in a very sinful world. This task will encompass right relationships with people, the correct response to daily circumstances which will arise to challenge us, the proper application of God's will to our daily living, and a sensible patience with and tolerance of earthly conditions that must be endured on our way to Heaven.

The wisdom enjoined upon us in Proverbs is personified in chapters 8 and 9 as a woman. Why is that? Are women wiser than men? Not necessarily, but just a cursory glance at all the fanciful theories that have grown out of this question will boggle your mind. But perhaps the most reasonable explanation lies in the textual presentation to the stated audience. The book of Proverbs opens with the wise man instructing his son, and each successive chapter (1-7) begins with the words son... In between the warnings about the adulteress of 7:5 and the woman of folly in 9:13, there is the detailed commendation of wisdom (8:1-9:6), personified as female. The personification seems to be for no other purpose than a consistent way of emphasizing the choice that the young man must make.

More profitable than silver or gold is the way wisdom is evaluated in 3:14, and 3:18 promises ...happy are those that hold her fast. Proverbs 8:11 declares that wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her. In its entirety, the book of Proverbs teaches us how to reach one's end by the use of the right means.

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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