We love rag to riches stories. It cheers our heart to see a person born into adversity only to make it big. Our text reveals just such a situation. In Proverbs 8:1-21 we see wisdom calling simple ones, and to those who answer we see their station in life elevated.
In the opening verses of chapter eight, wisdom is standing in the public square calling out with all her might. We read, “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?” (Prov. 8:1). Her call is to “to the sons of men…” who are described as “simple ones” and “fools” (Prov. 8:4, 5). It would be easy to read those verses and pass over them, not applying them to ourselves, because we do not think we are simple or foolish. But a right understanding of our fallen and sinful condition reveals otherwise (cf. Roman 3:10-18).
Therefore, in chapter three we are told to, “lean not on our own understanding” and not to “be wise in your own eyes” (Prov. 3:5, 7). The very suggestion to not do these things tells us something about how we view ourselves. Left to our own devices, we are proud, self-serving, and wise in our own eyes. We are given such commands because, absent their warning, we will fail to engage in a healthy self-evaluation that leads us to understand our own spiritual poverty outside of Christ. Hence, in chapter eight, wisdom is personified as a woman desperately seeking to get our attention.
God knows that the only true source of wisdom comes from Him. He also knows wisdom’s true value. Therefore, wisdom pursues us; and as she does, she says, “Listen, for I will speak of excellent things… receive my instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold” (Prov. 8:6, 10). What a wonderful truth that we serve a God who pursues people. He does not leave the simple and foolish to their own devices. In His grace he seeks to get our attention and lead us to the true treasures in life: “For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her” (Prov. 8:11).
And for those who will listen and follow, great treasures await them: “Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness…. I … cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries” (Prov. 8:18, 21). But to receive these things, we must be intentional in our pursuit of wisdom. She calls to us because we need her. We must not pass her by without giving thought as to why she is there. Further, we must ask God to help us see the value of wisdom as He does. Our hearts are often attracted to the wrong things. But as the old adage says, “Everything that glitters is not gold.”
But to the ones who see that the riches and honor of wisdom have nothing to do with the material wealth of this world, they will rise to counsel kings, and “the great ones of earth” will seek their advice. And when those once simple ones speak the wisdom of God, kings will give their decree: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37).
Daniel began his career as a slave, but in the end, Kings longed to hear him speak. He was rich indeed.