The book of Proverbs is one of the best known Old Testament books, both inside and outside Christianity, and a classic of literature in its own right. Christians who look to the crucified and risen Christ as the heart of our faith can be so centered on the twenty-seven New Testament books directly involving Jesus that we may come to see Proverbs and other Old Testament books as somewhat removed from the life and legacy of our Savior.
But there are actually very close connections between Jesus and Proverbs. After all, Jesus himself declared that the entire Old Testament was written about him (Luke 24:44). We should come to every book of the Old Testament seeking to uncover the many connections to Christ. Such connections are certainly present in Proverbs. Here are four of them.
Jesus Lived Wisdom
During his time on earth, Jesus personified the Proverbs-driven life. His life here demonstrated continual wisdom. His every act was wise. Just as he was perfect in every other way, Jesus perfectly lived the wisdom of Proverbs.
The Gospels include only one account from our Lord’s youth. Luke records that when Jesus was twelve years old, he entered the Temple courts in Jerusalem and discussed theology with the teachers of the law (Luke 2:41–50), some of the most educated men of the day. During this interchange, young Jesus caused everyone to be “amazed at his understanding.” Thus, the first time in Scripture that we see Jesus interacting with others, we come away impressed with his wisdom and understanding.
And subsequent to Jesus’ conversations in the Temple at age twelve, Luke tells us he “grew in wisdom” (2:52)—even after he had amazed the teachers of the law.
As the Gospels go on to richly demonstrate, the entirety of Jesus’ adult life was marked by his display and use of wisdom. This is perhaps most powerfully seen in his famous parables, which, like the biblical Proverbs, are a particularly concentrated form of wisdom instruction. Jesus was a man who lived wisdom.
Jesus is Widsom
Jesus not only displayed wisdom. In a sense, Jesus is wisdom. This is a second way in which he is closely tied to the pure expressions of wisdom found in Proverbs.
Proverbs is a perfect expression of God’s wisdom, in written form, sent as a gift to help us. Jesus is also a perfect expression of God’s wisdom, in divine/human form, sent as a gift to help us. Just as Proverbs is more than words on a page, but is the eternal Word of God, Jesus was more than a man. He is the “Word of Life” who “was from the beginning” (1 John 1:1).
Like Proverbs, Jesus embodies and displays the wisdom which is inherent in the being of God, for Jesus is “wisdom from God,” (1 Corinthians 1:30) and the one in whom are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). To see the perfect representation of the wisdom of God in flesh, look to Jesus. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). To see the perfect representation of the wisdom of God in print, you can do no better than Proverbs.
This is not to say that Proverbs is better or more true than other parts of the Bible. Without a doubt, all Scripture is God-breathed wisdom (2 Timothy 3:16). It is simply to point out that the compact, concentrated manner in which God’s wisdom is expressed and presented to us in Proverbs is unique. Much like Jesus, Proverbs embodies God’s wisdom in a way that nothing else does or can.
Jesus is the Way of Wisdom
Because Jesus is wisdom, God calls us to choose his way rather than the foolish way of the world. Just as the book of Proverbs contrasts the path of wisdom and the path of folly, the New Testament presents us with a similar choice, contrasting “God’s secret wisdom” revealed in Jesus Christ with the world’s foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:6–8).
The wise man chooses Jesus, and the fool chooses the folly of this world. Jesus is the way of wisdom.
Jesus Supplies Wisdom
Finally, just like the book of Proverbs, Jesus promises to give wisdom to those who hear and receive his words. Jesus promised this to his original disciples as he told them about the resistance they would face in the future, “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” (Luke 21:15). This promise was initially fulfilled in both Stephen (Acts 6:3, 10) and Paul (2 Peter 3:15), but it continues to be a gift promised to the entire church throughout the ages (Ephesians 1:17). Because of Jesus’ work on our behalf, wisdom is a gift available for the asking, as James declares: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Jesus is the giver of wisdom and one of the ways Jesus gives his people wisdom is by providing us with the book of Proverbs.
So as we study the book of Proverbs we must always keep in mind that this book, like the rest of Scripture, reveals the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the perfectly wise man; he is wisdom, the way of wisdom, and the giver of wisdom. Jesus is a unique expression of wisdom; he is the one who is “greater than Solomon” (Matthew 12:42), author of much of the book of Proverbs.
It is this reality, recognizing that Proverbs is a book about Jesus, that serves as the impetus for living a Proverbs-driven life. As we live wisely according to Proverbs, we are living like Christ. We are being conformed into his image and we are reflecting his glory to the world around us. We can live a Proverbs-driven life because Jesus first lived that life for us. As the one who lived wisdom, the one who is wisdom, the one who is the way of wisdom, and the one who supplies wisdom, Jesus is present in Proverbs in a most profound way.
Excerpted from A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio