The Gospel of Proverbs

Okay, this may be my toughest challenge yet in The Gospel in the Old Testament series.  Proverbs is not the first place I would go to find the Gospel in the OT.  It is certainly not explicitly there nor prefigured as in the sacrifices of Leviticus or the examples of substitute sacrifice in Esther or the combination of the two concepts in the Passover account of Exodus.  So what of the Gospel is found in Proverbs?

To know wisdom, the first words of Proverbs, set the tone for the whole book. and the source of wisdom is stated explicitly, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the holy one is understanding.” 9:10  The words “wisdom” and “wise” are found more than a hundred times, but there are numerous other near synonyms that carry the same thought, such as “knowledge, learning, and understanding.” Almost as frequent to wisdom are “righteous” and “righteousness,” about ninety examples.

What do wisdom and righteousness have to do with the Gospel?

Righteousness in Proverbs as in much of the Bible is not perfection, but relative righteousness. Noah, Abraham and Job are all called righteous or blameless, but that is not a claim that they were sinless as all three giants of the faith had failures, some quite dramatic.  And Proverbs makes the point in 20:9, who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?”   The writer is not waiting for a show of hands to record how many righteous people there are. This is rhetorical. The implied answer is “No one!”  Thus Proverbs aligns with the rest of Scripture that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.  Thus, we all need to be rescued, which means we need a rescuer.

Who an rescue us?  A top ten “life verse(s)” chosen by many is Proverbs 3:5, 6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”   Two Gospel truths are found here. It is only God who can make our “paths straight” or make us righteous.  Apart from his rescue and restoration, we would never get on the right path.  And the means of experiencing God’s restoration is “trust” or “faith,” same meaning, verb and noun forms.  So the Gospel is clear that we cannot save ourselves and we must trust/believe in another to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  This is stated most succinctly in Ephesians 2:8,9 – For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.

Wisdom in Proverbs is personified, an essential characteristic of God. In the New Testament, Jesus is called the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), the one who has become for us wisdom from God. (1:30), and the one in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)  These passages affirms that Jesus is God and is the one true rescuer, the only one who can restores us to God, God the Son.

No, I wouldn’t start with Proverbs in seeking to share the Gospel, but the foundational principles are there – our lack, God’s provision, and the necessity of faith in God.

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