Proverbs 8:34


We continue our summer series on favourite verses from members of the congregation. This time it is one from Bruce McDonald.


Proverbs 8:34

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway


Let’s hear why it is his favourite verse…




First let us look at the verse in context.  Many of the latter verses in Proverbs are one-off 2-line pithy statements but not so Chapters 1-9 where this verse resides.  They are 3 poems.  Chapter 8 is a poem of praise (an encomium)

The paragraph of this poem in which we find our verse is this:

32   “Now then, my sons [and daughters], listen to me;

blessed are those who keep my ways.

33   Listen to my instruction and be wise;

do not ignore it.

34   Blessed is the [one] who listens to me,

watching daily at my doors,

waiting at my doorway.

35   For whoever finds me finds life

and receives favor from the Lord.

36   But whoever fails to find me harms himself;

all who hate me love death.”


The one doing the calling in this poem is Wisdom – “chokmoth” in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek. And something for the women to cling to:  both those words are feminine.  Wisdom is grammatically feminine. Sorry guys.


There are 3 key words in our verse: Listen, watch and wait.


And the result of those three actions is blessing.



Blessed are those who listen to me


15 times in the NT the phrase Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” is used by Jesus, ½ of them in the book of Revelation.


It seems a funny statement because we all have ears but this is talking about ears tuned into God. 


So often we are tuned into the sound of our own voice, or of our own thoughts; occasionally we listen to others around us, but normally in those circumstances we are listening for a gap, so we can say what we want to say.


The art of listening is an important tool for all of us to learn and particularly the art of listening to God.


Lynn Baab, one of my tutors at Otago University wrote: “Listening requires a posture of humility that isn’t ‘sexy.’ If you’re really going to hear God and others, you have to be open to not being right and to seeing something new. But you can’t hear God and others if you don’t have that attitude in some measure.”[1]


That attitude is humility.  Marva Dawn, another of my tutors, writes “A necessary virtue is a humble willingness to listen as God guides us.”[2]


We must have a mind and ear tuned into God.


The key to being effectively used by God is a humble, submissive heart that’s tuned in to the Holy Spirit. [3]


The prayer on our lips should always be ‘Lord, I need to know what you want me to do, and I am listening. Please speak to me through my friends, books, magazines I pick up and read, and through circumstances.’[4]


Blessed is the person who has a listening ear, because he will guided in truth.


The second command is to “watch”

watching daily at my doors

In this, it is not idly standing on a street corner watching the world go by, but watching like a watchman on a wall, having a keen eye, being a hawkeye.

In this, it is not passively gazing about but a focused watching.  It is the eyes of a watchman.

2 John 8 Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we have worked for, but may receive a full reward. Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.


 Jesus told a parable about this watching:

Matthew 25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

It is watching, ready for action.

The idea suggested in our verse has sometimes been taken to mean watching as that of eager students waiting at the school door for their teacher's appearance or of Levites guarding the doors of the temple; or of a lover at his mistress's gate. [5]

I think these similes do not convey the earnest intent if the watching. I much prefer the idea of watching and being vigilant on the wall, watching for the enemy’s advance, watching so as to protect those within the walls.

Ezekiel 33:7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.

And if we are not listening and watching we will miss God’s leading. 

Proverbs 20:12       The hearing ear and the seeing eye—  the Lord has made them both


Without eyes and ears how will we hear and see God’s call?

19        Look, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up, do you not see it? I will make a way through the wilderness and rivers in the desert.[6]


And the final command in our verse is: “ wait”

waiting at my doorway

To Wait is to be patient whilst being ever vigilant with eagerness.

Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Galatians 4:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

Our verse means keeping close to the entrance, so as to be quite sure of not missing her whom he longs to see.

And in this listening, watching and waiting there is a blessing.

We are blessed who watch and wait at Wisdom’s gates; even our attendance there is our happiness; it is the best place we can be in. We are blessed who wait there, for we shall not be put to wait long; let us continue to knock awhile and it shall be opened to us. We are seeking Wisdom, and we shall find what we seek. (Matthew Henry)


In verses 32–34 the words listen and blessed are used alternately (listen, v. 32; blessed, v. 32; listen, v. 33; blessed, v. 34; listens, v. 34).

By listening to wisdom’s instruction and following it, we become wise and are “blessed.” This blessing comes from following wisdom eagerly (watching and waiting).[7]

Think of Isaiah 40:30

 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.


I don’t think I need to spell it out, but this verse is clearly instructing us on how to grow spiritually, how to become spiritually mature.


We cannot grow without God, we cannot grow toward the light unless we acknowledge the source of our growth – God.  We do not mature unless we practice some of the actions in this verse.


Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway






[1] Lynne M. Baab The Power of Listening: Building Skills for Mission and Ministry Loc. 2478-80

[2]Marva Dawn Joy in Divine Wisdom: practices of discernment from other cultures and Christian traditions 65

[3] Bill Hybels Honest to God – Becoming an Authentic Christian 122

[4] Dallas Willard Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God 260

[5] Pulpit Commentary

[6] Childs, B. S. Isaiah: A Commentary. (1st ed., p. 330).

[7] Buzzell, S. S.  Proverbs. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 923.