What does Proverbs chapter 8 mean?Earlier in the book of Proverbs, wisdom was personified as a woman calling out in public to be heard (Proverbs 1:20–21). Solomon once again uses this metaphor, depicting wisdom as she cries out from near and far for men to heed her call and listen to what she has to say. Wisdom's message is not obscured so that no one can find it. On the contrary, the basic principles of godly wisdom are so obvious that all people ought to hear and listen (Proverbs 8:1–5).
In contrast to those who are corrupt, crooked, or twisted, wisdom speaks noble, righteous, and true things. Her instruction is worth more than the finest gold, silver, and jewels. This is true in both practical and spiritual ways. A person who starts with nothing, but follows wisdom, has a better chance of becoming successful than a foolish person who stumbles into wealth. From an eternal perspective, this is also true (Mark 8:36): the soul is worth infinitely more than anything we might obtain in life (Proverbs 8:6–11).
Wisdom teaches that the fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. This "fear" is the kind of reverential, worshipful obedience that we should rightly offer to God (Proverbs 1:7). In contrast, that which disagrees with wisdom is pride, arrogance, and corruption (Proverbs 8:12–13).
For a leader to be truly benevolent, and just, they must use godly wisdom. This is a national application of the same benefits wisdom offers to individual people: she loves those who love her. Once again extolling the value of godly wisdom, Solomon notes that the effects of honoring God are better than fine gold and choice silver (Proverbs 8:14–21).
Solomon also notes that wisdom existed before God created the earth and the heavens. The depiction here of wisdom as something established by God before even the creation of the world speaks to God's perfection. At the same time, wisdom poetically speaks of being alongside the Lord as a master workman. This wording has led some to interpret this passage as a statement from Jesus, who was more literally "with" God in the beginning (John 1:1). However, this is a different context and not a literal representation of Christ. Rather, wisdom is an intrinsic part of how God created and enjoyed His work (Proverbs 8:22–31).
Returning to the theme of advice, wisdom urges human beings to listen to her and promises blessings to those who respond positively. She promises life to those who listen to her as well as favor from the Lord. However, those who fail to find wisdom—those who ignore God's teaching inflict injury on themselves and love death. They will ultimately be separated from God (Proverbs 8:32–36).