Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
For a new Christian, it can be confusing trying to reconcile the Old and New Testaments. For one, we completely base our theology around Jesus and his sacrifice on a cross, and yet it seems like Christ doesn’t show up until the book of Matthew; which is more than halfway through the Bible. I remember frequently hearing pastors say that all of Scripture points to Jesus. And after hearing that I’d always think, “Prove it: Scripture or you’re making it up.” But the more time I spend in the Word myself, and with more pastors trying to prove their point giving me verses to check out I have come to realize that indeed the whole Bible points to Jesus. Today I’d like to show you what the Holy Spirit showed me while reading through the book of Proverbs. You see, even Solomon knew of Jesus and wrote about him!
“Whoa whoa, hold on here. Jesus came waaaay after Solomon, how could he be writing about Jesus in the Proverbs?” Alright, so it’s likely that King Solomon never saw our Christ in the flesh. However, Solomon does personify wisdom in such a way that one can only draw lines to the Messiah. Wisdom as Jesus? This is not as big of a stretch as it sounds. Check out what Job said in regards to wisdom,
When he established the force of the wind
And measured out the waters,
When he made a decree for the rain
And a path for the thunderstorm,
Then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
He confirmed it and tested it.
And he said to man,
“The fear of the Lord- that is wisdom,
And to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:25-28).
Job notes that wisdom was with the Lord at creation (remember this because we’ll come back to it) and he also notes that wisdom is the fear of the Lord. The writer of Psalm 111 agrees with this idea, because in it we find these words,
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise (Psalms 111:10).
The writer basically repeats Job, and he also adds a definition of what the fear of the Lord entails, which is obedience to what the Lord has decreed (again, remember this because we’ll come back to that in a second). It should be no surprise then that when Solomon was collecting his maxims into something for future generations that he included “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy one is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). Now, as we just read from the Psalms, the fear of the Lord can be at least partly identified as obeying his commands. Jesus personified this more than anyone else on earth. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-8,
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
Did not consider equality with God
Something to be grasped,
But made himself nothing,
Taking the very nature of a servant,
Being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled himself
And became obedient to death-
Even death on a cross!
So we’re able to see obedience is personified through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by his obedience to God by his death on a cross. Through his decreed sacrifice, salvation was brought to all. Therefore, since Jesus personifies obedience, he also can be the personification of wisdom. Therefore Solomon referring to someone he’d never met before but had been taught of by the Holy Spirit as wisdom is not such a stretch.
Alright, hopefully we’re on the same page now. If not, don’t worry about it; just keep going because what’s coming next might blow your mind (I know it blows my mind every time I read it). In Proverbs 8, Solomon writes about his view of the personification of wisdom. Wisdom is allowed to speak and to give instruction rather than just Solomon in this chapter. And what does wisdom have to say? We read,
The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
Before his deeds of old;
I was appointed from eternity,
From the beginning, before the world began.
When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
When there were no springs abound with water;
Before the mountains were settled in place,
Before the hills, I was given birth,
Before he made the earth or its fields
Or any of the dust of the world (Proverbs 8:22-26).
According to Solomon, wisdom was the first of God’s creations. This agrees with Job’s assertion that wisdom came during creation (I told you we’d come back to that verse). However, this also agrees with how we see Christ. For we’re told that when God and his Spirit were hanging out in darkness that the Lord created light; “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). This was the first recorded creation of God. That light wasn’t a light bulb though, it was so much more. For John, writing of the coming of Christ says, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9). So according to John, Christ is true light incarnate. This is further backed up in Revelation 21:23, for in the future New Jerusalem we read, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of god gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Even though it may be a little hard to grasp the first few read-throughs, Scripture tells us that Jesus is light- the light that was created before anything else. Wisdom continues its discourse,
I was there when he set the heavens in place,
When he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
When he established the clouds above
And fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
When he gave the sea its boundary
So the waters would not overstep his command,
And when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
Rejoicing always in his presence,
Rejoicing in his whole world
And delighting in mankind (Proverbs 8:27-31).
According to Solomon, wisdom was not only present during all of creation, but was also a part of the creating process. I think most Christians know by heart that in the opening of the book of John, we’re told that Jesus filled this role exactly. We read,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men (John 1:1-4).
According to John, Jesus was not only with God during the creation, but was actively involved in the creation of everything. John also agrees with Solomon’s writing by noting that Christ was the light of men, which matches up with “wisdom” delighting in mankind and its creation. So even though Solomon may have never seen Jesus face to face, he could find Christ in the concepts that he understood.
But there’s more. Wisdom continues to speak,
Now then, my sons, listen to me;
Blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
Do not ignore it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my doors,
Waiting at my doorway (Proverbs 8:32-34).
Wisdom calls us to pay heed to its instructions. Where can we find these instructions? Well, we already read that John refers to Jesus as the Word. He confirms this by writing, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). So Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. However, the Word of God was also compiled by the Holy Spirit into written form as the Bible we read today. It is written,
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
Our Bible is a living and active form of the Word of God (who we already know is Jesus) in convenient book form. And of this Paul writes, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of god may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So where can we find Jesus’ instructions? Throughout the whole Bible. And what does God have to say about all of this? We read,
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).
So we find that the Scripture and the Lord are in agreement that we should meditate on the Word and follow its decrees. We go on to read,
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your god and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
According to God, if we follow the decrees and laws of the Bible we will be blessed, and by turning our backs on these writings we will be cursed. And, speaking of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Therefore, the Word of God made print (the Bible) agrees that salvation is found only through a belief in the Word of God made flesh (Christ Jesus). Of course though, Jesus (through Solomon) already said this in Proverbs 8:35-36,
For whoever finds me finds life
And receives favor from the Lord.
But whoever fails to find me harms himself;
All who hate me love death.
And so we find out that not only does all Scripture point to Jesus, he actually shows up in the Old Testament! And no matter who the Holy Spirit is spurning on to write, be it Moses in Deuteronomy or Solomon in the Proverbs, the message of Christ is always the same: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revolution 3:20). All throughout the Bible, Jesus is reaching out to you and me in order that we may find salvation through his atoning death on the cross and belief in him.
Solomon probably never saw Jesus in the flesh. But he did see the Messiah’s other forms and understood Jesus’ relationship with God and our relationship with Christ. And Solomon thought it was beautiful. How do I know he saw the concept of Jesus as beautiful? Well, if you look at the beginning of Proverbs 8 we’ll find something that can be a little confusing. Proverbs 8:1 reads, “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?” Solomon calls wisdom by the feminine pronoun. Now before closing this article as total bunk since the personage of wisdom I’ve been saying is Jesus (who was a man on earth) Solomon actually referred to as a woman hear me out. Solomon LOVED women and likely had a very deep appreciation for beauty. He once wrote,
Sixty queens there may be,
And eighty concubines
And virgins beyond number;
But my dove, my perfect one, is unique,
The only daughter of her mother,
The favorite of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed;
The queens and concubines praised her (Song of Songs 6:8-9).
60 queens, 80 concubines, and virgins without number? Solomon loved his ladies. And actually, we can use this verse to date when it was written in relation to his life, because by the end these numbers had grown. 1 Kings 11:3 tells us, “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.” Solomon had a thousand women at his call. It should come as no surprise then that when referring to something as high on his list as wisdom he uses the feminine pronoun because he was totally woman-crazy. And keep this in mind, when Solomon talks about folly (which we might equate with the devil and temptation) he also uses feminine pronouns; it’s just how he wrote.
Jesus is in the whole Bible, it’s just that before he shows up in the gospels he’s taking other forms. I encourage you when you read the Bible to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you find where Jesus in the Scriptures and watch as your whole take on the Bible changes.