Old is New Again

Proverb 4: 7

The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.

I have a question for you today. Proverbs is a wisdom book, so is it primarily a book of the Old Testament or does it transcend the Old Testament? Is its advice pertinent to this generation? Okay, so that is two questions.

The reason I bring this up is because we tend to have a very different perspective on the Old Testament books since we are New Testament believers. So, what do we do with the book of proverbs? And, for that matter, what about Psalms? We tend to relegate the Old Testament books to the antiquated section of the library in our minds. Why, then, do they keep putting those old books in our Bible? Why aren’t we just printing New Testaments?

It is hard to win the argument for the exclusion of the book of Proverbs or Psalms. Many “New Testaments” include those two books. Truth be told, there really is very little New Testament content. One would have to admit that historically, the gospels are Old Testament. Jesus had not gone to the cross, had not defeated death and hell, and had not yet provided the means to salvation and redemption. Of course, as “Christians” we like reading about Jesus so those four books make their way into what we call the New Testament, the Christian Testament.

The same cannot be said of the Psalms or Proverbs, though, or can they? What is it about those two books which attracts us to them? It seems plain that David, who is the major contributor to the Psalms, had a revelation of both the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. What of Solomon and the book of Proverbs? There is absolutely something transcendent about those writings. One thing is the personal tone with which Solomon wrote. It is as if He penned each proverb as a personal letter to each of us. Beyond that, though, is the spirit of revelation with which he wrote. He wrote about creation and who was with God at that time and he wrote about your today. Something in that resonates within us.

There is a book, however, which reveals the Messiah even more than the psalms and proverbs. That is the book of Isaiah. The text makes me think that the prophet had some sort of encounter with the person of Jesus. Isaiah doesn’t tell us about it but, clearly, he had insight beyond that of most people. This book, though, we find easier to consign to the Old Testament library. That is a shame because Jesus calls out from those pages.

We’ve acknowledged before that Jesus is the Bible in its entirety because he is the Word. The thing which separates the books is that many of the Old Testament books are a historical record and many of us never liked history class. However, most of the great Bible stories are also tucked into the folds of those pages. Also, we never see the hand of God as clearly in the New Testament as the Old. There certainly are miracles in both sections of the Bible but parting rivers and seas is the stuff of the old book. Swarms of locust and frog infestations, epic battles and battles where only God lifted a hand, those are the landscape of the Old Testament.

I think it is easy to see why we comfortably bring the Proverbs and Psalms into the New Testament with us. They are not strictly historical, and the writing is more modern and emotive. They clearly offer wisdom and worship for today. However, there is great faith in the other Old Testament books as well as the foundation for our faith. We need to know what the book of Deuteronomy holds. We need to see Father Abraham and his family as he and his descendants evolve into the nation of Israel. Important lessons lie at the foot of Egypt as we ponder how God’s chosen people ever arrived there in the first place. And what does the Babylonian captivity say to us today. Yes, the New Testament writers spoke directly to us, telling us what they believed we need to know. We must glean the kernels from the Old Testament stories, but they are there, and they are there in glory.

I want you to see God in all His glory. I want you to live in His glory daily and I believe the Old Testament books will inspire you as well as inform. I want you to have all that Jesus died to give you; nothing missing. The One Year Bibles make reading the Old Testament much easier if that helps, or just jump over to Isaiah and find Jesus. You are going to enjoy what you see. I would love to hear your Old Testament stories. What are you finding there that is inspiring you?

The Proverbs

Proverb 1: 1

To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion.

Above are four objectives. These outline the reasons Solomon gave us the Proverbs. I had a friend one time, who was quite versed in the Bible but one day as we were talking, confessed she had never found the attraction to the Proverbs. I was flabbergasted. This is the first book I discovered in the Bible and to this day, one of the most highlighted books in my Bible. I guess I just needed more instruction than did she.

When I began my deep discovery of the Bible my pastor instructed me to read a chapter from the New Testament beginning with Matthew 1, a chapter from the Old Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb. That advice served me well. The Old Testament gave me my history and the grounding of my faith. The New Testament brought me salvation, grace, the New Covenant and Jesus, the Psalms speaks to my heart and the Proverbs inform and instruct me in the way to go. They are a floor beneath my feet preventing me from falling into the depths while the Psalms give me wings to fly.

I was young when I discovered the Proverbs and was aware of my naivety and ignorance. That was a grace because I was not too arrogant or proud to receive instruction. When we become unteachable, the Proverbs call us fools. I can be foolish, as we all can at times, but foolishness is something I would rather avoid. There are consequences with foolishness. A proverb is a “wise saying or precept.” So, the Proverbs, I think, guard us from the distasteful consequences of foolishness.

God offered Solomon anything he wanted. Solomon chose wisdom and now through the Proverbs he offers us this prize from God. Join me as I take a sojourn through the Proverbs. Let us see what we may and glean from Solomon, the wisdom of God.