Wisdom: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. A résumé, this brief document, is essentially a summary, in outline form, of a job applicant’s qualifications. The list of qualifications usually includes the person’s objectives, education, experience, strengths, and skills.
In addition, the résumé provides names of previous employers and other people who know the applicant well and can be used as references. Employers evaluate this information and use it as a basis to determine whether or not to hire the applicant.
The present chapter of Proverbs could accurately be called “wisdom’s résumé.” Wisdom is again personified. She identifies her work, qualities, skills, and experience. She even provides references for all who will read her resume (this chapter), give her a hearing, and receive her.
Chapters eight and nine are the conclusion of everything the father has been teaching his son in the first seven chapters. This climax comes on the heels of the father’s exposure of the immoral woman’s deceptive and destructive vices.
In striking contrast he now presents the virtues of wisdom, strongly urging his son to choose her as his life’s partner (7:4). Old Testament professor and excellent commentator Bruce K. Waltke best summarizes this contrast:
“Although very different in style and substance, these poems about the unrestrained wife and about personified wisdom form [parallel lists].
The unchaste wife moves covertly at dusk and speaks falsely; Wisdom moves publicly and speaks direct and authoritative truth.…The foreign wife leads her victims to slavery, impoverishment, and death; Wisdom’s speech leads her followers to kingship, wealth, and life.
The foreign wife inhabits the earthly and mundane; Wisdom soars in heaven above space and time. Both rub shoulders in the city and appeal for the love of the uncommitted, gullible youth—the unchaste wife erotically, Wisdom, spiritually.
The house of the unfaithful wife is a death trap; the mansion of Wisdom is the abundant life (see also ch. 9). A critical decision to love Wisdom before entering the city is urgent to nerve [safeguard] the putty-like simpleton against the foreign woman. To gain his love, Wisdom extols her virtues and her rewards.1
Chapter eight is regarded as the most difficult and profound chapter in the book of Proverbs. This chapter presents a personification of wisdom.
It opens with a call to hear and recognize wisdom’s voice. Solomon presents wisdom as the voice that cries out to people as they go about their daily lives. Wisdom sees people making foolish, sinful choices, blindly groping about in the dark.
She distinctly beckons to them as they journey on the path that leads to destruction. Her voice is not weak; her tone is not hushed.
She bellows out her message, strongly projecting her voice above the roar of the hustle and bustle of the worldly influences that vie for people’s souls. She does not wait for an audience to gather and give her their attention.
She speaks out openly in venues where she cannot be ignored. Rejected yes – but not ignored. This is wisdom’s job, her objective. She beckons for everyone to make wise decisions, to do the right thing.