Discovering Jesus in Old Testament Proverbs
by David Murray
The book of Proverbs is the Old Testament’s Twitter. After some introductory chapters that present wisdom’s beauty, benefits, and beckonings, we encounter hundreds and hundreds of Tweets – short, pithy, and memorable statements and observations that communicate the most profound theological and practical truths.
But can Jesus be found in these Tweets?
It wasn’t immediately obvious to me, and it wasn’t obvious even after many years of study. However, I kept coming back to my foundational confidence in Jesus, who told us that He may be found in all the Scriptures. Proverbs is part of “the word of Christ,” through which He reveals Himself to needy sinners.
Although by the very nature of these short verses we tend to be immediately drawn into close and detailed study of them, we first need to step back and take a satellite view of the Old Testament’s message. From that eye in the sky, we see that the cumulative message of the Old Testament is that a Savior is coming who will be God’s greatest king, God’s greatest priest, and God’s greatest prophet. And Proverbs majors in that last category.
Some parts of the Old Testament reveal sinners crying out for a king to bring order to their unruly lives. Other parts reveal sinners looking for a priest to forgive their sins. But some sections reveal sinners searching for a teacher to disperse their ignorance and errors and to help them think, believe, speak, and do rightly.
God’s greatest Old Testament answer to this deep need is Proverbs, a divinely inspired revelation of wisdom written largely by Solomon, then the wisest man in the world. And yet, like all God’s Old Testament answers, this one was temporary, provisional, preparatory, and prophetic of His greatest revelation of wisdom in Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, “A greater than Solomon is here.”
Yes, He is here. But He was also there, in Proverbs…