The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.

—Proverbs 3:19

It tells us in Proverbs 3:19 and Jeremiah 10:12 that the Lord founded the earth, established and stretched out the heavens by wisdom, understanding and discretion. Those are two of many verses in the Bible that tell us about the wisdom of God….

It is necessary to our humanity that we grant God two things at least: wisdom and goodness. The God who sits on high, who made the heaven and the earth, has got to be wise, or else you and I cannot be sure of anything. He’s got to be good, or earth would be a hell and heaven a hell, and hell a heaven. We have to grant goodness and wisdom to God, or we have no place to go, no rock to stand on, no way to do any thinking or reasoning or believing. We must believe in the goodness and in the wisdom of God, or we betray that in us which differentiates us from the beasts—the image of God Himself.

So we begin with the assumption—not a guess, not a hope, but a knowledge—that God is wise. AOGII124-125

Lord, I do believe and will place my confidence in the fact that You are both infinitely wise and infinitely good. What need I fear? Amen. [1]

3:19, 20 These two verses describe the wisdom of God in creation, in judgment, and in providence. In creation He founded the earth and established the heavens. With understanding, He opened up the fountains of the great deep at the time of the Flood. By providence, He lifts the water from the ocean into the clouds, then distributes it again as rain upon the earth.

And who is the active agent of the Godhead in doing all this? It is Christ, the Wisdom of God (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).[2]

19–20 Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are also valuable to God, for by them he created the universe. How wisdom was used in creation and how it pictures Christ, the Wisdom of God, is discussed in the comments on 8:22–23 (see also J. Emerton, “Spring and Torrent in Ps. 74:15,” VTSup 15 [1965]: 125). This section shows that the wisdom that directs life is the same wisdom that created the universe; to surrender to God’s wisdom is to put oneself in harmony with creation, the world around one (Fritsch, IB, 4:804). The two verses concentrate first on the foundation of heaven and earth.[3]

3:19, 20 Solomon is indicating that wisdom is basic to all of life, for by it God created everything. Since God used it to create the universe, how eager must we be to use it to live in this universe.[4]

3:19–20 For an extended description of wisdom as the means by which the Lord worked in creation, see the speech of personified Wisdom in 8:4–36. The essential point is that God has built the principles of wisdom into the structure of the world itself; wisdom is the ordering principle by which everything functions and does not devolve into chaos. Thus, when one lives without integrity, one violates the very rules whereby everything is held together. One cannot do this and thrive. This idea is developed at length in 8:22–31.[5]

3:19, 20 These verses are linked to vv. 13–18 by the repetition of “wisdom” and “understanding” in vv. 13 and 19 and focus on the effectiveness of wisdom.

3:19 by wisdom … by understanding. God’s wisdom is so effective that it was used to create earth and heaven.

earth … heavens. God’s wisdom produced the well-ordered world of earth beneath and heaven above, implying also all creation between earth and heaven.

3:20 deeps broke open … clouds drop the dew. The word translated “broke open” is the same word used in Gen. 7:11 for God’s opening the terrestrial source of water. Since “dew” does not drop from clouds, the Hb. word refers here, as in a few other places, to rain. Thus God provides water from the terrestrial and celestial sources. The point of vv. 19, 20 is that since God’s wisdom created such a well-ordered world for Him, God’s wisdom can surely create a well-ordered world in our lives.[6]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 799–800). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 67). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Pr 3:19). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1140). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (pp. 1019–1020). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.


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