Most people are familiar with the Proverbs as the book of wisdom. But how do the Proverbs point us to the gospel and Jesus? In this video, Director of Young Leader Engagement for NAMB, Jon Akin, gives three ways in which Christ is the fulfillment of the Proverbs.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
So how do the Proverbs point us to Jesus? Well that is a question that comes with quite a bit of controversy.
There’s so many people who I think run to the Proverbs and love the Proverbs simply because they think it’s home-spun wisdom. It’s just wise principles on how to live life. They don’t really see it connected to redemption. They don’t really see it connected to the gospel. It’s more of an, okay, now that you’re saved, here’s how you live. But is there a gospel-centered aspect to the book of Proverbs? I think that’s a key question.
If we believe what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3, not just that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, but when he says to Timothy, “From childhood you’ve known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:15). There he’s referencing the Old Testament and that means Proverbs. That means Proverbs is designed, not just to make you wise for sanctification, but also make wise for justification, to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
1. Jesus is Wisdom
So how do we read Proverbs in that way? There’s been two ways historically and then there’s a third way that’s emerging. The first historical way is to identify wisdom, the personification of wisdom in Proverbs, as ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Himself.
Solomon continues to direct his son, and obviously by extension, the people of Israel. In order to be wise you have to have a relationship with wisdom. Again, wisdom is personified as a woman, because the Hebrew word for wisdom is a feminine noun. But this woman was there at the Creation, assisted God in creating the world, and powers kings to rule. Solomon is saying, “Son, marry wisdom. Have a relationship with wisdom.”
Ultimately in the New Testament, the New Testament authors tell us that Jesus is the one who preexisted the Creation and Jesus is the one who John 1 tells us, with God, created the world. And so, He is, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1, “the wisdom of God”(1 Corinthians 1:18-31). So He’s the wisdom of God for us.
So to be wise, you have to have a relationship with Jesus. Wisdom in Proverbs ultimately points us to Jesus.
2. Jesus is the Son
The second way historically is to say, not only is Jesus wisdom, but He’s the Son. He’s the Son of David, He’s the Son of Solomon who’s growing in wisdom and stature and favor with the Lord, as Luke 2 tells us. So He is the Son who is hearing the instruction of His Father, ultimately of His divine, heavenly Father, and is actually walking in wisdom.
3. Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Prophesy
A third way that folks have been kind of talking about for the last several years is to see that the structure of Proverbs and the actual content of what the authors of Proverbs are trying to do points us to Jesus. It’s actually creating a prophetic expectation for a Son who fulfills the book.
There’s a lot of stuff we could get into, but just to kind of put this succinctly, the first 9 chapters are these extended, parental instruction from Solomon to his son, who’s the crown prince, urging him to begin this relationship with wisdom and to avoid a relation with woman, folly. And so he’s saying, “Avoid this woman who’s going to cause you to die and then create and have this relationship with wisdom.”
It culminates in chapter 9 where there’s an invitation given by wisdom and there’s an invitation given by folly. The invitation given by wisdom is about finding knowledge of the Holy One, knowledge of God, knowledge of the Holy One. Then at the end of the chapter is folly who also offers, “Come to my house. Eat my food. Have a relationship with me.” The question is who is the son going to choose?
Historically people have argued that the son chose wisdom. Then you see in chapters 10 through 29 how he begins to grow in wisdom and learn how to be, one, a faithful Israelite who’s a good husband, a good father, good neighbor, good friend, and then ultimately progresses in later in chapter 25 and beyond into how to rule in the court, how to justice in the kingdom, and all those different things. So by the end of the book, he actually marries the noble wife. He’s married wisdom and he rules and reigns, you know, happily ever after.
But what people are starting to look at now is in chapter 9 he actually passes by wisdom’s house. There’s no good reason to think he actually chose wisdom. He actually chose folly. So at the end of book in chapter 30, the son says, “I have not attained knowledge of the Holy One” (Proverbs 30:3). What was promised him in Proverbs 9, he gets to Proverbs 30 and he says, “I’m stupider than any other man, I’ve not obtained knowledge of the Holy One, and the only way for me to obtain real knowledge is for God and the Son of God to come down out of heaven” (Proverbs 30:2-4).
Then ultimately, you get to chapter 31 where there’s a mom—no dad in the picture—who gives birth to a son, a king, who is then married to wisdom and is going to reign forever. This is actually called an oracle in Proverbs 30 and 31. This is a future expectation that—no, Solomon didn’t live up to this, and Solomon’s son didn’t live up to this—but someday there’s gonna be s Son because God keeps His promise to David. There’s going to be a Son in the future who does this.
Ultimately we see in Isaiah 11 that that expectation begins to build when they say, “Hey listen, there’s going to come a day, there’s going to come a shoot out of Jesse, and guess what? He’s going to be anointed by the spirit of wisdom, understanding, and the fear of the Lord. He’s going to actually embody the book of Proverbs” (Isaiah 11:1). Ultimately we see that that shoot out of Jesse is Jesus of Nazareth.
Those are the kind of ways that you can read the book of Proverbs and see how they’re all about Jesus. He is the ideal King and He’s the one that we’ve got to have a relationship with to be wise. Once we have that relationship, then we can be faithful citizens of the kingdom and we can be good husbands, good neighbors, good fathers, good mothers, and live out the wisdom that God has called us to live out.