Q: What is the meaning of “wisdom” in Proverbs 8?

A: A lot of interpretation problems have arisen because people have assumed that the word “wisdom” is merely used as a symbol for Christ. That is simply not the case. Wisdom in Proverbs is simply personified (given the characteristics of personality) to teach how important wisdom is. The point is, if God used wisdom when He did His creation work, so must man.

Furthermore, the word “wisdom” in Hebrew has the basic meaning of skill and the proper use of skill to make things work. It does not really relate to intelligence, as such, for which there are different Hebrew words to be used, but even a person who is untaught can still have wisdom in the sense of skill. This kind of wisdom is shown only by the fruit of one's hands and that is why it mentions God having this kind of wisdom from the time He began creation because at that point you can see the work of His hands. Obviously, God had intelligence throughout all eternity, but the kind of wisdom that Proverbs is dealing with is that kind of wisdom that is practical, as seen in the results, as is the case of creation. The six days of creation are the visible evidence of the wisdom of God in the way the word is used by Proverbs.

Again, wisdom is simply being personified in Proverbs, and personification is a common teaching tool in Scripture. You see another good example of personification in Judges 9:7-15 where various trees are personified in order for the purpose of teaching something. I see no reason to try to make wisdom in Proverbs a symbol of Christ because that is where a lot of the exegetical problems come in.