Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Proverbs for the Present

Since my last post on Proverbs, I have been reflecting on the amount of "love thy enemies" that seeped up into that chapter (Prov. 24). Today, I'll be reflecting on some Proverbs from the 29th chapter. The more I read the OT, the more I am surprised by the moral and ethical overlay between it and Jesus' teaching. It has been fashionable in Christian circles (both conservative and liberal) to play up the differences between the testaments so as to make the NT somehow a completely new thing that leaves the "primitive" and "arcane" OT in the dust.

But, we must remember, as so many fine biblical scholars and theologians have, that while the Incarnation of the Son of God is an absolutely unique event, the Trinity decided that the human nature of Jesus would come from the Virgin Mary, a very Jewish woman who begat a very Jewish man. The Incarnation, instead of destroying the OT, instead establishes and enriches it.

Listen to these proverbs and hear its resonances with Jesus, especially in the Gospel of Luke:

7 The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.

14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,
his throne will always be secure.

Or these proverbs wtih Jesus' injunction to turn the other cheek:

13 The poor man and the oppressor have this in common:
The LORD gives sight to the eyes of both.

11 A fool gives full vent to his anger,
but a wise man keeps himself under control.

20 Do you see a man who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

23 A man's pride brings him low,
but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.

25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.

26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that man gets justice.

And, just to be reminded that turning the other cheek does not mean condoning wickedness:

27 The righteous detest the dishonest;
the wicked detest the upright.

In fact, it is Jesus' example of the wise life that leads Christians in his Way. This chapter even has wise comments on the necessity of Jesus' sacrificial life and death:

19 A servant cannot be corrected by mere words;
though he understands, he will not respond.

16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
but the righteous will see their downfall.

10 Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity
and seek to kill the upright.

But, just to be reminded of the difference...that there is something truly new in the Person and Work of Jesus, notice how Jesus' life turned this proverb on its head:

3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

How wonderful that Jesus' wisdom brought joy to the Father on our behalf; and how wonderful that Jesus squandered his wealth in his gracious pursuit of us his Church, the worst of all prostitutes.

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