What does Proverbs 8:26 mean?
ESV: before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world.
NIV: before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth.
NASB: While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world.
CSB: before he made the land, the fields, or the first soil on earth.
NLT: before he had made the earth and fields and the first handfuls of soil.
KJV: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
Solomon affirms in this verse that wisdom existed before God created the earth with its fields. The fields would be earth's open country. Standing atop a mountain that rises over the Great Plains, one can be overwhelmed with the thought of God's infinite wisdom. This verse continues to express how wisdom—as a part of God's perfection—existed long before even the creation of the world (Proverbs 8:22–25).
Opinions vary regarding the meaning of "the dust of the world." Some believe this expression refers to heaps of dirt clods. Others think it refers to the sum of the atoms of dust. Still others take the expression to refer to Genesis 2:7 that tells us "God formed the man of dust from the ground" and made him alive.
In a humorous modern-day parable, a scientist approaches God to claim he can make life even better than God can. To prove it, the scientist challenges God to a life-creation contest. God accepts the challenge, but says that to be fair, they will both need to create that life just as life began: out of dirt. The scientist agrees and stoops down to pick up a handful of soil. God stops him, saying, "oh, no, you go make your own dirt!" In his finite wisdom, man can plant seed in the ground that God made and grow plants and crops, but God in His infinite wisdom made the ground and everything that springs from it.
Proverbs 8:22–31 pays tribute to wisdom as having existed from the very beginning of beginnings. In this chapter, wisdom speaks as a woman, in a poetic style used by Solomon. Since the wisdom in question is godly truth, rooted in the knowledge and nature of God, that wisdom predates the creation of the world and everything in it. Like God's goodness and justice, His wisdom has always been part of who He is and how He creates.
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 5:16:06 AM
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