Christ the Wisdom of God
The Poetic Books set before us essential and blessed aspects of life in Christ as it is experienced by God’s saints in this world. Job displays the necessity of self-denial, of dying to self that we may live unto God. The Psalms set before us the blessedness of worshipping our God in resurrection life. Ecclesiastes displays the utter vanity of all earthly things, the complete inability of finding satisfaction for our souls in this perishing world of woe. The Song of Solomon displays Christ as that One in whom alone our souls find satisfaction. Lamentations teaches us to set our hearts upon our God and Savior, finding contentment and satisfaction in him.
Proverbs shows us the blessed wisdom of faith in Christ, wisdom with which to live for God’s glory in this present evil world. The first nine chapters of this Book are instructions by Solomon to his son, a series of parental admonitions to his son to seek wisdom and shun folly; but there is more here than Solomon’s instructions to his son. In this Book, we have before us God’s instructions to his sons and daughters, teaching us to seek wisdom and shun folly. In the remaining chapters (10-31), we are given 374 proverbs that touch every phase of life in this world.
The purpose of this Book is set before us in the opening verses of chapter one. "The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings" (1:1-6).
The Key to the Book is found in verse seven. Here we are told plainly what wisdom is. —"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." There are many books written by men to teach wisdom. The thing that sets this Book apart from all others is that it does not teach us about wisdom. It teaches us wisdom. It teaches and reveals Christ who is Wisdom. That distinguishes this book from all of the wisdom literature of the world. There is no wisdom without truth; and there can be no discovery of truth apart from revelation, the revelation of Christ who is the Truth and the Wisdom of God. All the philosophical wisdom of the world (all of it) is utter foolishness, because “there is no fear of God before their eyes'' (Rom. 3:18; 1 Cor. 1:17-25).
Christ is Wisdom. He alone is Wisdom. He alone can make us wise. That is the message of this inspired Book of Wisdom. In chapter eight, wisdom is personified. It is obvious that the personification of wisdom spoken of in that chapter is Christ.
"I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions…Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness…For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD" (vv. 12, 14-18, 35).
Christ is the Wisdom spoken of and speaking throughout these thirty-one chapters. This is not a book about moral philosophy. The Book of Proverbs is a Book about Christ the Wisdom of God and the Truth of God. 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). The apostle Paul tells us, ''But unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ (is) the power of God, and the wisdom of God'' (1 Cor. 1:24). In 1 Corinthians 1:30 we read, ''But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom.''
This Book teaches us that the Lord Jesus Christ, our incarnate God, our crucified Substitute, our risen and exalted Lord, our omnipotent Savior is the very wisdom of God. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Pro. 3:6).
Compare what is written in the Book of Proverbs about wisdom and what is written elsewhere in the Book of God about Christ, and you will see clearly that the Wisdom spoken of here is a person, not an attribute, and that that person is our Lord Jesus Christ.
· "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets…Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you" (1:20, 23). —"And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3)
· "But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil" (1:33). —"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28)
· "If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures" (2:4)—"In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3).
· "Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?…Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man" (8:1, 4).—"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37).
· "O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart" (8:5). —"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight" (Luke 10:21).
· "Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things" (8:6). —"And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?" (Luke 4:22).
· "Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength" (8:14). —"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30).
· "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me" (8:17). —"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7).
· "I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment" (8:20). —"He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Ps. 23:3).
· "The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old" (8:22). —"And he is before all things, and by him all things consist" (Col. 1:17).
· "I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was" (8:23). —"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
· "When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth" (8:27). —"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3).
· "Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him" (8:30). —"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds" (Heb. 1:2). "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24).
· "Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways" (8:32). —"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10).
· "For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD" (8:35). —"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47).
· "Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled" (9:5). —"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John 6:35).
Faith in Christ
If you would be wise read Proverbs 30 and learn wisdom. The only true wisdom man has is the wisdom of faith, faith in Christ. The man speaking here is Agur, the son of Jakeh. He tells us in verse one that what he is declaring is prophetic. Specifically, it is prophetic of Christ and faith in him.
Wisdom begins with (faith begins with) a confession of our utter helplessness, unworthiness, and ignorance as fallen, sinful creatures before God. —"Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man" (30:2).
This is the cry of repentance and faith, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” If we are to walk in the path of wisdom, we must acknowledge our own guilt and weakness. Agur goes on to declare, in verse 3, that he has no knowledge of God, no wisdom, no understanding of God. —"I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy." The fact is, we will never know God, we will never know Christ, until we are convinced that we don’t.
This wisdom, the knowledge of God, which is eternal life (John 17:3), comes by divine revelation. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (1 Cor. 3:19). Even the Greek philosophers could not answer man's quest for the true meaning of life. The best the philosophers on Mars Hill could do was to erect an altar to ''the unknown God'' (Acts 17:23). We cannot by searching find out God. We will come to know him only when he reveals his Son in us, as he did with Saul of Tarsus (Gal. 1:15).
Faith sees, acknowledges, confesses, trusts, and worships the risen, exalted Christ (30:4). Overwhelmed by the thought of God's greatness and power revealed in Christ (the crucified, risen Savior), and by the infinite distance separating man and God, Agur asked a series of penetrating questions. —"Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?"
God graciously forced Job to face and deal with these same questions, laying him in the dust before him. —"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7).
Agur is talking about Christ, the Son of God. Verse 4 ends with a tremendous question: “What is His name, and what is His Son's name, if thou canst tell?” God has a Son! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Isaiah would prophesy, “'For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
The Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, that One in whom alone the triune God is revealed (John 1:18) is the One of whom the passage is speaking. Christ descended from heaven to save his people from their sins. This same Christ is God the Creator and Ruler of all things, who upholds all things by the Word of his power. He bound the wind in his fists and holds the waters as in a garment. It is he who established the ends of the earth. I did not draw this interpretation of Agur’s words out of my hat. This is precisely what Paul tells us as he sets before us the essence of saving faith (Rom. 10:6-13).
Blessed is that person whom the Lord God graciously humbles before him as he did Job, Agu, and Saul of Tarsus. Such humiliation comes only when Christ is revealed, when he is made to see the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ.
That faith that God gives to and works in the hearts of men comes from and rests entirely upon the pure Word of God. Taking Christ, as he is revealed in Holy Scripture, as our Shield and Refuge, we have peace with God. —"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him" (30:5). "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever" (Ps. 119:160). "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isa. 26:3).
True wisdom, this wisdom that comes from Christ who is the Wisdom of God, bows to the revelation and authority of Holy Scripture, the Word of God. —"Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" (30:6). "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Christ In Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom, is all about Christ. He is to be seen everywhere in the Book. It is Christ who calls sinners to repentance, promising grace to all who come to him and warning rebels of the destruction they bring upon themselves by their rebellion and unbelief (1:20-33; 29:1). When Christ enters our hearts, the knowledge he gives is pleasant to our souls. He gives us understanding and protection from all evil (2:10-17). Christ is our Surety who snared himself with the words of his mouth (6:1-2).
Christ who is our Wisdom warns us to avoid “the strange woman” (ch. 7). The harlot here spoken of is not merely the common prostitute. This harlot allures her victims upon the basis of her religious devotion (vv. 14-15). She has, by her much fair speech and flattering words, enticed many and cast many strong men into hell. “Her house is the way to hell” (v. 27). This harlot is the same old whore described in Revelation 17 and 18. She represents all false religion, all freewill, works religion.
Christ is that One called “Wisdom” (ch. 8) by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, who leads in the way of righteousness, who causes us to inherit the treasures of boundless grace, who, being set up from everlasting, stood and spoke as our Wisdom in covenant grace before the world began. Christ is that One called “Wisdom” who has built his house from hewn stones upon seven pillars of grace with the sacrifices of God (ch. 9). Christ is that One called “Wisdom” who teaches his people how to live in this world for the glory of God in every relationship and experience (chaps. 10-29). The fear of God (faith in Christ) is the source and beginning of all true wisdom and knowledge in every relationship and walk of life.
Christ is that One called “Wisdom” who teaches us and convinces us of divine truth, for he is the Truth. He shows us that our God is the absolute sovereign of the universe. He who made all things for himself rules all things, including the hearts, tongues, and ways of all men, for his own glory! (6:1-4). Even the king’s heart is in his hand, absolutely controlled by him (21:1). It is only in and by Christ that we are made to see how God can be both “a just God and a Savior” (Isa. 45:20), purging iniquity “by mercy and truth” (Pro. 16:6). There is no other way whereby the holy, just, and true God can forgive sin, except by the sacrifice of his darling Son, making him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Pro. 17:15; 2 Cor. 5:21).
In chapter 31, king Lemuel gives us a prophecy taught to him by his mother. This king Lemuel, whose name means “to God,” is commonly thought to be Solomon, and that Lemuel was a name by which his mother, Bathsheba, called him. The prophecy is given to attract our hearts to and teach us to a singular virtuous woman, “for her price is above rubies” (v. 10), whose “husband is known in the gates” (v. 23). But the description of this virtuous woman “is drawn up to such a pitch, and wrote in such strong lines, as cannot agree with any of the daughters of fallen Adam, literally understood” (John Gill). This virtuous woman is the church of God. Her husband is Christ himself. She is set before us in direct contrast to the harlot of Babylon described in chapter 7.
Christ, who is Wisdom, calls for us to trust our God in all things, giving him our hearts. "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" (Pro. 3:5-6). "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways" (23:26). "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (4:23).
Let us be wise, like the coney, and take refuge in Christ, the Rock of Salvation. —"The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks" (30:26). The conies are “an emblem of the people of God, who are a weak and feeble people, unable of themselves to perform spiritual duties, to exercise grace, to withstand the corruptions of their nature, resist the temptations of Satan, bear up under afflictive providences, and grapple with spiritual enemies, or defend themselves from them: but such heavenly wisdom is given them, as to betake themselves for refuge and shelter to Christ, the Rock of Israel; the Rock of salvation, the Rock that is higher than they; a strong one, on which the church is built, and against which the gates of hell cannot prevail: and here they are safe from the storms of divine wrath, and the avenging justice of God; from the rage and fury of men, and the fiery darts of Satan; here they dwell safely and delightfully, and have all manner of provision at hand for them; they are the inhabitants of that Rock, who have reason to sing indeed!” (John Gill)
It is written, with regard to all who trust Christ, all who take refuge in the Rock of Israel, "He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure" (Isa. 33:16). "Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains" (Isa. 42:11).
Do no play the part of the hypocritical spider. —"The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces" (30:28). Gill suggests that the spider here represents hypocrites, “whose hope and trust are as the spider’s web, built upon their own righteousness, spun out of their own hearts; a fine, thin, slender thread, which cannot bear one stroke of the besom (broom) of divine justice. Such as these are in the palaces of Christ the King, in his churches, hypocrites in Zion.” "So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web" (Job 8:13-14).