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Blog - Proverbs 1:20

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For all the blogs in this series, click here: Proverbs Commentary.

Proverbs 1:20

"Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:" (Pro 1:20)


In verses 20-33, wisdom is personified as a woman who publicly cries out to men from every corner of life, calling unto them to hear her reproof, turn from their foolishness, and be spared from the self-inflicted destruction that awaits them. In chapter one, as well as in chapters eight and nine, wisdom is referred to in the feminine. In the Hebrew language, which the book of proverbs was originally written in, every noun has a gender, either masculine or feminine. Being feminine in the Hebrew, the translators translated wisdom as feminine in the King James Bible.

As the proceeding verses shall show, wisdom, which cries out to men to repent and then later judges them by filling them with their own devices, is the LORD. Jesus Christ, who is the LORD (Joh 1:1-3,14; Joh 8:58; 1Ti 3:16), is "the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1Co 1:24), for in Him "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3). The fact that God, who is masculine, is represented by wisdom, who is feminine, is not a contradiction of terms. Ships serve as a good example of things which are dominant in masculine characteristics, but are nevertheless referred to by feminine pronouns. Ships are designed, built, and operated predominately by men and often even bear male names such as the USS George Washington, USS Abraham Lincoln, and USS Ronald Reagan, but are yet referred to with the feminine pronouns she and her, which has been the case for thousands of years (Act 27:15).

A feminine pronoun is fitting for wisdom which is softer and more tender in character and demeanor than some of the other attributes of God such as judgment. In addition to His dreadful side, the LORD also has a merciful and compassionate element to Him: "like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him" (Psa 103:13). Possessing such kindhearted characteristics, Jesus Christ, "who of God is made unto us wisdom" (1Co 1:30), is rightly symbolized in Proverbs by wisdom which is a feminine personification.

Wisdom crieth without. To cry is "to entreat, beg, beseech, implore, in a loud and emoved or excited voice" (OED). To cry without is to cry "on the outside or outer surface; externally" (OED). It is evident from this verse that God uses an external rather than an internal method of communicating His word to His people. Wisdom utters her voice to her recipients in the streets, not telepathically in their heads. At times throughout Biblical history God spoke inwardly and directly to a few select prophets, but not at all times, nor to all men. He then communicated His wisdom "unto the fathers by the prophets" (Heb 1:1) and "hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" (Heb 1:2), who is the wisdom of God. The LORD spoke to Israel through the prophets in the Old Testament and through the words of Jesus Christ and the apostles in the New. If we will learn wisdom, we must step without ourselves and read the word of God and listen to it preached, for God hath "manifested his word through preaching" (Tit 1:3). And what is preaching but a man crying out the word of God.

Wisdom cries not in the seminaries or the secret places, but in the streets. A man need not go far to hear it if he will but open his ears. Our Lord Jesus Christ told the high priest that "I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing" (Joh 18:20). Jesus told His apostles that "what I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops" (Mat 10:27). The problem in this day is not that wisdom hasn't cried in the streets, but rather that there were so few that would hear it that now "truth is fallen in the street" (Isa 59:14). The end thereof shall not be blessed for those who turn away their ear from wisdom's cry as the latter part of this chapter declares.


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For the previous blog in this series, click here: Proverbs 1:19.
For the next blog in this series, click here: Proverbs 1:21.

For all the blogs in this series, click here: Proverbs Commentary.