Last week, I completed a 30-week course on exegesis of different literary genres of the Bible. If I could sum up the weeks in one sentence, it would be this: The purpose of the Old and New Testament Scriptures is to proclaim Christ (see John 5:39). The course has been helpful in training me to look for Jesus in all genres of the Bible, including Wisdom Literature like Proverbs.
So where is Jesus in a passage like Proverbs 3:1-12?
Before we can get to that answer, let’s start with the basic structure of the text--how does the author (Solomon in this case) organize his words? You may notice that Proverbs 3:1-12 is a mixture of imperatives (instructions of a wise father, 3:1, 3, 5-7, 9, 11) and motivating clauses (the resulting blessings of obedience, 3:2, 2, 8, 10, 12). Together, the emphasis shows a father teaching his son that obedience to wise instruction brings blessings.
The closest passages on both sides of our text echo the same idea (see Proverbs 2:1, 5-8, 20-21 and Proverbs 3:12-14). Proverbs 2:21 brings to my mind Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and God’s promise to bless Israel’s obedience. The overarching theme of Proverbs 3:1-12 reminds us that God blesses the obedience of His people.
At this point, those driven by performance may resolve to obey by the strength of their will. Others, more aware of their shortcomings, may be tempted to despair. Here, we remember Jesus, the only Son who perfectly obeys the Father’s instructions. He is the Son who receives the “favor and good success in the sight of God and man” promised in Proverbs 3:4 (Luke 2:52). Jesus is our hope!
The truth of Proverbs 3:1-12 has not changed for God’s New Covenant people. Let us then praise God for Jesus, His sinless life has fulfilled every commandment of the Father and that perfect record is credited to you, the believer (2 Corinthians 5:21). He gives you a new nature and His Spirit who enables you to submit in obedience that pleases God (Romans 8:7-9).
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