Seeing Jesus in Proverbs

Seeing Jesus in Proverbs November 18, 2013

Many peopleapproach the book of Proverbs on the lookout for themselves. They’re huntingfor a practical tidbit to inspire them, explain their situation, or solve theirdilemma. It goes kind of like this: “Man, I can’t believe I lost my temperagain. I need some help. Hey, here’s something: ‘A person without self-controlis like a city with broken-down walls.’ That’s good. I don’t want to bevulnerable like that, so I’d better control myself. Good warning. I feel inspiredand informed. Problem solved.”

What’swrong with this approach? Well, if you’ve struggled with sin for any length oftime, you’ve probably learned that inspiration and information are never enoughto solve your problem. That approach to Proverbs just won’t work.

Moreimportant, however, is this: that’s not at all how Jesus read the book ofProverbs! He didn’t explain how Proverbs was all about you. Rather, “Beginningwith Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scripturesthe things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27). Note the phrase “in all theScriptures.” Apparently, the book of Proverbs as Jesus read it was all aboutHim!

Of course,we want to read for personal conviction and practical application. But we mustvigorously resist the tendency to read Proverbs in a way that implies Jesus hasnot come. If we were orthodox Jews, believing the OT but rejecting any notionof fulfillment in Jesus, it would be only natural to read Proverbsmoralistically: “This is Yahweh’s Law. Just do it.” But for Christians, theministry of Jesus changes everything, including how we interpret Proverbs.Because of Jesus, we read the Bible not only “from front to back” but also“from back to front.”

Reading theBible from front to back, we find Proverbs filled with responsibilities andwarnings and exhortations and applications—it is, quite convictingly, about us.But when we read from back to front, beginning with Jesus and working back toProverbs, the landscape looks different. I now can see that the ultimate meansto protection and safety isn’t my self-control; it is in yielding control toJesus, finding protection in Him, and relying on Him for help not to lose mytemper in stressful situations. I trust Him with my situation, rather thanusing the power of my explosive outburst to get my way. The walled city is notmy own self-wrought, self-protective self-control; it is, in this sense, JesusHimself.