Human Wisdom Elevated to a Divine Status
No, the book of Proverbs isn’t merely human wisdom. It’s divine wisdom. Or, to be more precise, through human wisdom God’s own wisdom is revealed. This is where that lengthy nine-chapter introduction comes into play. The claim of Proverbs 1-9 is that the wisdom you will read in Proverbs 10-31 isn’t merely human wisdom, it’s divine. The purpose of these introductory chapters is to help you see that God’s words to his people have come through the human words of the elders.
Consider the interweaving of the ten father-son speeches and the four "Lady Wisdom" poems in Proverbs 1-9. First, let’s think about the ten speeches from father to son. You can find these in Proverbs 1:8-19, 2:1-22, 3:1-12, 3:21-35, 4:1-9, 4:10-19, 4:20-27, 5:1-23, 6:20-35 and 7:1-27. The ten speeches from father to son all follow the same pattern: (1) exhortation, (2) lesson, and (3) conclusion. The dad exhorts his son to listen to him, to write his commands on his heart, and to do everything in his power not to forsake them. Then, the dad offers a lesson about virtue or wisdom or integrity that he wants his son to know. Finally, there’s always a concluding line about how wisdom will keep you safe and give you abundant life. There are ten of these speeches explicitly from the father (sometimes representing both mom and dad), which offer human wisdom.
But, interwoven into the ten speeches of human wisdom from father to son are four poems from “Lady Wisdom,” who symbolizes the perfect and transcendent universal wisdom (see Prov 1:20-33, 3:13-20, 8:1-36 and 9:1-18). Wisdom, personified as a lady, calls out to all humanity on behalf of God himself, beckoning them to live by and listen to her.
In Proverbs 8, she claims that she is like an eternal principle of the universe because she was the principle by which God wove the moral universe into existence; God used wisdom to architect the physical and moral fabric of creation. Therefore, anytime humans access this wisdom and live by it, they are living by a divine principle or a divine word. Thus, the "Lady Wisdom" poems elevate the human wisdom of the elders to a status of heavenly wisdom, offering you a filter through which to read the rest of the book. It’s as if the four "Lady Wisdom" poems are commenting on the father-son speeches saying, “Dear reader, do you realize that when you listen to the wisdom of your elders, you are hearing a transcendent, divine wisdom about how to live in God’s good world?”