The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ
by Paul R. Van Gorder
Proverbs is the third of the poetical books of the Old Testament. Someone has termed it a book of ''laws from heaven for life on earth.'' Proverbs is one of the three volumes of ''wisdom literature'' of the ancient Hebrews.

The first nine chapters are instructions by Solomon to his son-- a series of parental admonitions about seeking wisdom and shunning folly. In the remaining chapters, are 374 maxims that touch every phase of life.

The divine origin of the book is attested to by the fact that after 3,000 years its counsels still stand, undaunted by modern psychology and education.

The keynote of Proverbs is expressed in chapter 1, verse 7, ''The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.'' That distinguishes this book from all of the wisdom literature of the world. It starts with an affirmation, a fundamental truth, that no educator should ignore. The Hebrew philosophers believed there could be no discovery of ultimate truth apart from revelation. And the revelation with which they began was the existence of God. He filled their vision. Modern philosophy has developed a system that is godless and foolish because there is ''no fear of God before their eyes'' (Romans 3:18).

G. Campbell Morgan wrote that there are two kinds of fear:
  1. The fear that God will hurt me; but that is a selfish fear.
  2. The fear that I will hurt Him; a fear founded in love and producing holiness of character and righteousness of conduct.
Our concern in this study is to find where and in what way this book previews Christ. However, let's digress a moment to consider the fear of God as the beginning of all true knowledge. Solomon used a threefold illustration of this in chapter 1. He did so by discussing three spheres of life in which every human being moves.
  1. The Home (1:8,9).
    ''My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother; for they shall be an ornament of grace unto they head, and chains about they neck.''
         The responsibility of the father and mother is taken for granted. God's first and primary unit of society is the home. A child is unable to understand much about the Infinite. But the child does (or should) see God in his father and mother. Your first impression of God was, no doubt, made through your father: his laws, his authority, his punishments, his exactness. In your mother's love, devotion, sacrifice, and suffering you saw something of the love and compassion of God. Yes, the fear of God starts in the home.
  2. Friendships (1:10).
    ''My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.''
         The circle widens to the period of choosing friendships. The day comes when the child has to make his own choices. A list of those who want comradeship on the basis of self-interest and unscrupulous means is given in Proverbs 1:11-19. The importance of this cycle of life is immeasurable. Let me ask you: Are you choosing your friendships on the basis of the knowledge gained by the fear of God?
  3. The Business World (1:20,21).
    ''Wisdom crieth outside; she uttereth her voice in the streets; she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates, in the city she uttereth her words.''
         The one who was a child, just a few years earlier, has now entered the bustle of the busy city. He's in the world of business and commerce. The writer of Proverbs does not say to that one, ''Don't go.'' It is inevitable that the child will grow and develop and become an adult, entering the everyday world of activity. But this book tells him how to go. Note the instruction given in the words, ''Turn you at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you'' (1:23). This is followed by the assurance of verse 33, ''But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.'' This advice is further reinforced by those great and familiar verses of chapter 3: ''Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths'' (3:5,6).
You may well say, ''All that is good advice. But how can I follow it, if I didn't come from a Christian home, if my companions are not Christians, and if I live under adverse circumstances?'' The answers are to be found in chapter 30, which delineates the way of wisdom.
Let us now look closely at Proverbs 30, taking note of several important steps in the path of wisdom.
The picture of Christ appears often in Proverbs, for He is the personification of wisdom. James said, ''If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him'' (James 1:5). But it was the apostle Paul in his inspired writings who said, ''But unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God'' (1Corinthians 1:24). A little later he said, ''But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom...'' (1Cor 1:30).
Read Proverbs 8:22-36 and you will discover the very imprimatur of Christ, the very wisdom of God. ''In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths'' (Proverbs 3:6).

Return to table of contents for ''The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ,''
written by Paul R. Van Gorder, Copyright 1982 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Used by permission [within The Book from].
Further distribution is not allowed without permission from RBC.

For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in Christ in All the Scriptures, by A.M. Hodgkin.

For further study in the book of Proverbs, see the Book Notes on Proverbs.

Go to The Book opening page.