Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary

Verses 22-31 (Proverbs 8:22-31)

That it is an intelligent and divine person that here speaks seems very plain, and that it is not meant of a mere essential property of the divine nature, for Wisdom here has personal properties and actions; and that intelligent divine person can be no other than the Son of God himself, to whom the principal things here spoken of wisdom are attributed in other scriptures, and we must explain scripture by itself. If Solomon himself designed only the praise of wisdom as it is an attribute of God, by which he made the world and governs it, so to recommend to men the study of that wisdom which belongs to them, yet the Spirit of God, who indited what he wrote, carried him, as David often, to such expressions as could agree to no other than the Son of God, and would lead us into the knowledge of great things concerning him. All divine revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, and here we are told who and what he is, as God, designed in the eternal counsels to be the Mediator between God and man. The best exposition of these verses we have in the John 1:1-4 of St. John?s gospel. In the beginning was the Word, etc. Concerning the Son of God observe here,

I. His personality and distinct subsistence, one with the Father and of the same essence, and yet a person of himself, whom the Lord posses 5550 sed (Prov. 8:22), who was set up (Prov. 8:23), was brought forth (Prov. 8:24, 25), was by him (Prov. 8:30), for he was the express image of his person, Heb. 1:3.

II. His eternity; he was begotten of the Father, for the Lord possessed him, as his own Son, his beloved Son, laid him in his bosom; he was brought forth as the only-begotten of the Father, and this before all worlds, which is most largely insisted upon here. The Word was eternal, and had a being before the world, before the beginning of time; and therefore it must follow that it was from eternity. The Lord possessed him in the beginning of his way, of his eternal counsels, for those were before his works. This way indeed had no beginning, for God?s purposes in himself are eternal like himself, but God speaks to us in our own language. Wisdom explains herself (Prov. 8:23): I was set up from everlasting. The Son of God was, in the eternal counsels of God, designed and advanced to be the wisdom and power of the Father, light and life, and all in all both in the creation and in the redemption of the world. That he was brought forth as to his being, and set up as to the divine counsels concerning his office, before the world was made, is here set forth in a great variety of expressions, much the same with those by which the eternity of God himself is expressed. Ps. 90:2; Before the mountains were brought forth. 1. Before the earth was, and that was made in the beginning, before man was made; therefore the second Adam had a being before the first, for the first Adam was made of the earth, the second had a being before the earth, and therefore is not of the earth, John 3:31. 2. Before the sea was (Prov. 8:24), when there were no depths in which the waters were gathered together, no fountains from which those waters might arise, none of that deep on which the Spirit of God moved for the production of the visible creation, Gen. 1:2. 3. Before the mountains were, the everlasting mountains, Prov. 8:25. Eliphaz, to convince Job of his inability to judge of the divine counsels, asks him (Job 15:7), Wast thou made before the hills? No, thou wast not. But before the hills was the eternal Word brought forth. 4. Before the habitable parts of the world, which men cultivate, and reap the profits of (Prov. 8:26), the fields in the valleys and plains, to which the mountains are as a wall, which are the highest part of the dust of the world; the first part of the dust (so some), the atoms which compose the several parts of the world; the chief or principal part of the dust, so it may be read, and understood of man, who was made of the dust of the ground and is dust, but is the principal part of the dust, dust enlivened, dust refined. The eternal Word had a being before man was made, for in him was the life of men.

III. His agency in making the world. He not only had a being before the world, but he was present, not as a spectator, but as the architect, when the world was made. God silenced and humbled Job by asking him, ?Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who hath laid the measures thereof? (Job 38:4). Wast thou that eternal Word and wisdom, who was the prime manager of that great affair? No; thou art of yesterday.? But here the Son of God, referring, as it should seem, to the discourse God had with Job, declares himself to have been engaged in that which Job could not pretend to be a witness of and a worker in, the creation of the world. By him God made the worlds, Eph. 3:9; Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:16. 1. When, on the first day of the creation, in the very beginning of time, God said, Let there be light, and with a word produced it, this eternal Wisdom was that almighty Word: Then I was there, when he prepared the heavens, the fountain of that light, which, whatever it is here, is there substantial. 2. He was no less active when, on the second day, he stretched out the firmament, the vast expanse, and set that as a compass upon the face of the depth (Prov. 8:27), surrounded it on all sides with that canopy, that curtain. Or it may refer to the exact order and method with which God framed all the parts of the universe, as the workman marks out his work with his line and compasses. The work in nothing varied from the plan of it formed in the eternal mind. 3. He was also employed in the third day?s work, when the waters above the heavens, were gathered together by establishing the clouds above, and those under the heavens by strengthening the fountains of the deep, which send forth those waters (Prov. 8:28), and by preserving the bounds of the sea, which is the receptacle of those waters, Prov. 8:29. This speaks much the honour of this eternal Wisdom, for by this instance God proves himself a God greatly to be feared (Jer. 5:22) that he has placed the sand for the bound of the sea, that the dry land might continue to appear above water, fit to be a habitation for man; and thus he has appointed the foundation of the earth. How able, how fit, is the Son of God to be the Saviour of the world, who was the Creator of it!

IV. The infinite complacency which the Father had in him, and he in the Father (Prov. 8:30): I was by him, as one brought up with him. As by an eternal generation he was brought forth of the Father, so by an eternal counsel he was brought up with him, which intimates, not only the infinite love of the Father to the Son, who is therefore called the Son of his love (Col. 1:13), but the mutual consciousness and good understanding that were between them concerning the work of man?s redemption, which the Son was to undertake, and about which the counsel of peace was between them both, Zech. 6:13. He was alumnus patris?the Father?s pupil, as I may say, trained up from eternity for that service which in time, in the fulness of time, he was to go through with, and is therein taken under the special tuition and protection of the Father; he is my servant whom I uphold, Isa. 42:1. He did what he saw the Father do (John 5:19), pleased his Father, sought his glory, did according to the commandment he received from his Father, and all this as one brought up with him. He was daily his Father?s delight (my elect, in whom my soul delighteth, says God, Isa. 43:1), and he also rejoiced always before him. This may be understood either, 1. Of the infinite delight which the persons of the blessed Trinity have in each other, wherein consists much of the happiness of the divine nature. Or, 2. Of the pleasure which the Father took in the operations of the Son, when he made the world; God saw every thing that the Son made, and, behold, it was very good, it pleased him, and therefore his Son was daily, day by day, during the six days of the creation, upon that account, his delight, Exod. 39:43. And the Son also did himself rejoice before him in the beauty and harmony of the whole creation, Ps. 104:31. Or, 3. Of the satisfaction they had in each other, with reference to the great work of man?s redemption. The Father delighted in the Son, as Mediator between him and man, was well-pleased with what he proposed (Matt. 3:17), and therefore loved him because he undertook to lay down his life for the sheep; he put a confidence in him that he would go through his work, and not fail nor fly off. The Son also rejoiced always before him, delighted to do his will (Ps. 40:8), adhered closely to his undertaking, as one that was well-satisfied in it, and, when it came to the setting to, expressed as much satisfaction in it as ever, saying, Lo, I come, to do as in the volume of the book it is written of me.

V. The gracious concern he had for mankind, Prov. 8:31. Wisdom rejoiced, not so much in the rich products of the earth, or the treasures hid in the bowels of it, as in the habitable parts os it, for her delights were with the sons of men; not only in the creation of man is it spoken with a particular air of pleasure (Gen. 1:26), Let us make man, but in the redemption and salvation of man. The Son of God was ordained, before the world, to that great work, 1 Pet. 1:20. A remnant of the sons of men were given him to be brought, through his grace, to his glory, and these were those in whom his delights were. His church was the habitable part of his earth, made habitable for him, that the Lord God might dwell even among those that had been rebellious; and this he rejoiced in, in the prospect of seeing his seed. Though he foresaw all the difficulties he was to meet with in his work, the services and sufferings he was to go through, yet, because it would issue in the glory of his Father and the salvation of those sons of men that were given him, he looked forward upon it with the greatest satisfaction imaginable, in which we have all the encouragement we can desire to come to him and rely upon him for all the benefits designed us by his glorious undertaking.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary