Elder James Hammond of Pecan Point, Ark., desires our views on Proverbs viii. 22, 23. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”
In the book of Proverbs Wisdom is personified as the mother of children who receive her salutary counsels and obey her instructions; hence we are informed that Wisdom is justified of her children. In this eighth chapter, she is represented as crying aloud, and saying, “Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.” She is represented in striking contrast with Folly, or the strange woman of the preceding chapter, who is “loud and stubborn,” beguiling the simple, casting down many wounded and slaying the strong who are allured by her deceptive tongue, and captivated by her flattery; for “her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” But of Wisdom, it is said, “All the words of her mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing forward or perverse in them.” Her instructions are better than silver, and rubies are not to be compared with her counsels. All that is said of Wisdom is true, whether considered in a temporal or spiritual application. The fool, or person devoid of wisdom, led on by folly, rushes on like one who is going to the correction of the stocks, or as the ox goeth to the slaughter, but those who are governed by the dictates of true wisdom see the snare which his laid for them and avoid it. In extolling the excellence of Wisdom, the inspired writer shows not only that by Wisdom kings reign and princes decree justice, but, from the contemplation of wisdom as exemplified in the judicious reign of kings and the sagacious counsels of the prudent of this world, the writer rises to the more sublime and infinitely glorious height of the wisdom of God, as an attribute or perfection of the supreme Deity, as manifested in all his works, counsels and decrees, as far transcending the highest order of human wisdom as the heavens are elevated above the earth. The Wisdom of God personified claims its existence with God before his works of old, even in the beginning of his way, set up from everlasting, or ever the earth was. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” That the wisdom of God is coeval with his eternal existence there can be no justifiable doubt, for he is immutable and without the shadow of turning. And being infinitely perfect from everlasting, has always been as wise as he will always continue to be, for that which is infinitely perfect can admit of no improvement. This is abundantly demonstrated by the irrefragable arguments implied in the declarations contained in the chapter.
Let our thoughts revert back to the creation of the world, and to the state of things before the world was brought forth by the creating power of God, even admitting that God had power to create all things, yet if he had been deficient in wisdom, the order and harmony of the divine arrangement might have been defective. But what an infinity of wisdom as well as omnipotence of power is displayed in everything which he created. In every stroke of his hand his wisdom cries aloud, and his understanding puts forth her voice. The challenge is given, the demand is made by the Creator of the heavens and earth, “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord, or, being his counselor, hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations of the earth are as a drop of the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance!” “Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth, it is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretched out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in?” “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by names, by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.” – Isa. xl.
The claims of Wisdom are well sustained, that she was present in the beginning of the way of God, before his works of old, set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; when there were no depths, she was brought forth, when no fountains abounded with water, and before the mountains were settled, and before the hills was she brought forth. While as yet God had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest parts of the dust of the world; when he prepared the heavens, she was there; when he set a compass upon the face of the depth; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth; then was his eternal Wisdom by him, as one brought up with him, and was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him. Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and her delights were with the sons of men. In view of all this amazing display of infinite wisdom, the psalmist exclaimed, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” (Psa. cxxxix. 6) And the inspired apostle could respond, saying, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.” – Romans xi. 33-36.
Many in reading of this eighth chapter of Proverbs apply the passages wherein Wisdom is personified to the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is certain that many of the declarations of Wisdom here made may apply to him, as well as to Wisdom, abstractly considered, or considered as an attribute of the supreme Godhead; but in these proverbs the feminine gender is used, which is nowhere in the scriptures applied to Christ. Truly, “He is of God made unto us, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” – 1 Cor. i. 30. And the apostle also speaks of “the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” – Col. ii. 2, 3. And again, Paul says, “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto the m which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” – 1 Cor. i. 23, 24.
If we have rightly understood the scriptures, Christ was “set up from everlasting” in his Mediatorial Sonship, as the Wisdom and the life of his body, the church; and in his relation to the Father, as the only begotten Son, in which Sonship is included the sonship of all the sons, children, and heirs of God, and joint heirship with Christ, so that they were chosen in him, and in him blessed with all spiritual blessings, according to that choice, or election, before the foundation of the world; and as the Son of God and Mediatorial Head of the church, he was and is, as one brought up, and perfectly identified with the Father, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills were, and while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When God prepared the heavens, when he set a compass upon the face of the depths; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the foundations of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth; then was Christ, as the Mediatorial head, life, wisdom and power of his body and members, by him, as one brought up with him, and was his delight, rejoicing always before him, rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and his delights were with the sons of men, for he is The Word that was with God, and he is also the Word which was God. “All things were made by him, and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist: and he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” – John i. 1-4; Col. i. 16-19. All the fullness of the Godhead is in him, for he is in the Father and the Father is in him, and he and the Father are One and the same God, beside whom there is no God. The fullness of the church is in him: for he is given to be the head over all things to the church which is his body and the fullness of him that filleth all in all. – Eph. i. 22, 23. He is “full of grace and truth;” “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” – John i. 14, 16. “In his presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm xvi. 11. In him is plenteous redemption, and all power in heaven and in earth is vested in him, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him. It is a blessed consolation to the saints that their life is hid with Christ in God, and that he has been their dwelling place in all generations, even from everlasting to everlasting; and that they that dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 6
March 15, 1881