What does Proverbs 8:17 mean?
ESV: I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
NIV: I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.
NASB: I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.
CSB: I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me.
NLT: 'I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me.
KJV: I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Wisdom, personified as a woman calling out to be heard (Proverbs 8:1–4), states: "I love those who love me." In its ancient usage, the concept of "love" meant more than mere emotion. In fact, the primary meaning of "love" was in terms of preference in action. With that context, it's easy to see how wisdom can "love" those who "love" wisdom. When we act according to godly wisdom—that which is true (Proverbs 8:6–9)—we are more likely to see good results (Proverbs 8:10–11, 18).
Love, in connection with God, also has profound meaning. The love of Jesus is beyond compare. It is a selfless, sacrificial love. John 13:1 describes Jesus as "having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." Certainly, the most significant display of Jesus' love for us was His death on the cross. The apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, "The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Jesus' love for us kindles in us a reciprocal love for Him. The apostle John writes, "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
Wisdom promises to be found by those who diligently seek her. Jeremiah 29:13 applies the same idea to those who seek God, in general, stating, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." The following verse promises, "I will be found by you" (Jeremiah 29:14). Jesus, the source of all wisdom, invited the lost to come to Him. He said, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out" (John 6:37). God's truth is not hidden (Romans 1:18–20) from those who sincerely wish to find it (Matthew 7:7–8).
Proverbs 8:12–21 records more words from the personification of wisdom. She speaks about the value she imparts to those who find her. Contrary to what the adulterous woman of Proverbs 7 offers—poverty and disgrace—wisdom offers true riches, honor, and an inheritance.
In this passage, wisdom is once again imagined as a woman who cries out to be heard (Proverbs 1:20–21). Wisdom extols her own truth and value. Wisdom was part of God's creative power long before even the creation of the universe. The chapter again returns to the many benefits of godly wisdom, before completing those declarations at the start of the next chapter.
Thus far in Proverbs, Solomon has spoken about the virtues of wisdom and the need to acquire it and live by it. He has also warned about the dangers of rejecting wisdom. Chapter 7 ended with a description of a promiscuous woman seducing a foolish young man. Now, in chapter 8, he lets wisdom speak, once again personified as a woman. She speaks about her existence before creation and her gift of life to all who find her. This analogy continues into chapter 9.
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:59:50 AM
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