Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
Is Lady Wisdom sexist? Does she despise women? She addresses her hearers in this proverb by three masculine nouns - men, sons, and man. She offers wisdom by an introduction (Pr 8:1-11), a listing of its virtues and rewards (Pr 8:12-21), the use that God made of wisdom in the creation of the world (Pr 8:22-31), and a sober conclusion (Pr 8:32-36).
Solomon personified wisdom as a woman willing to help men, like the personifications of Lady Liberty, Father Time, Mother Nature, and Uncle Sam. Personification is a beautiful and powerful figure of speech, and Solomon used it extensively as one of his inspired tools to exalt wisdom (Pr 1:20-33; 2:1-5; 3:13-18; 4:5-13; 7:4-5; 8:1-36; 9:1-12).
Both men and women, and sons and daughters, need wisdom. But Lady Wisdom clearly states her target audience as men and the sons of man. This agrees with Solomon's goal in his introduction (Pr 1:1-6) and his many appeals to his son (Pr 1:8; 7:1; 19:27; 27:11). Agur and King Lemuel's mother also wrote to men (Pr 30:1; 31:1). The only references to women are indirect, though women can surely learn wisdom from them (Pr 11:16,22; 14:1).
Was Solomon biased against women? Did he despise females in his nation? He described his efforts to teach his people by proverbs, but he does not identify women (Eccl 12:9-12). When women are addressed, it is how they affect men, or how men are to relate to them (Pr 2:16-20; 5:3-13; 12:4; 18:22; 21:9,19; 23:27; 30:19,23; 31:3). Even the description of the virtuous woman was written to help a man find a great wife (Pr 31:10-12,30-31).
Was Solomon sexist? No, God inspired him to wisely focus on the boys and men of Israel. First, he had to prepare his son to rule the nation, so there are many references to him. Second, he knew God's order for husbands to rule and teach wives (Gen 3:16; 18:19; Josh 24:15; I Cor 14:34-35). Third, he knew God's order for fathers to teach children (Ps 78:1-8; Is 38:19; Joel 1:1-3; Eph 6:4). Fourth, he knew that great societies have great men (Is 3:1-4,12; I Tim 2:11-14; II Tim 3:6-7). Fifth, he knew the frustration of women trying to live wisely, who had married foolish men (I Sam 25:3,25; I Pet 3:6).
What is the lesson? The best way to help a nation, church, or home is to focus on boys and men, for they are tomorrow's leaders in these and other spheres. Most churches emphasize girls and women due to Arminian theology, their vulnerability to deception, and the acceptance of the women's liberation movement. Lady Wisdom knew better, and she focused on the boys and men; she knew with wise and godly fathers and husbands the women would have better lives and families than any other way. Young man, you are important to God and Lady Wisdom. Commit yourself to her today (Pr 4:5-13)!