Picture this scene with me: A quaint cottage in the small, sunlit clearing of an ancient wood. Tucked in the simple bed, a frail father, weak with illness, passes his legacy – all his collected wisdom and advice – down to his heir. His son, a fresh-faced, eager to be tested youth, soaks in the words before setting out on this great quest called life. He will venture forth, working and fighting his way through the woods, seeking his fortune while braving the dangers. Along the way, he encounters two women. Both are attractive, offering the very riches he seeks, but one shows the way to true wealth and peace. The other, death. Will he heed his father’s warnings to stay on the straight path?
Not simply a list of rules, the book of Proverbs wraps its insight in the beautiful imagery of poetry. C. S. Lewis says, “For poetry too is a little incarnation giving body to what had been before invisible and inaudible.” It’s like when my children were younger and we would make up sing-song rhymes to help them remember important information. Something about the rhythm, the imagery, the story of poetry helps the lesson sink in deeper.
Another chief characteristic of Hebrew poetry is parallelism. Rather than rhyme or meter, the lines present balance and symmetry through restating or contrasting the phrase. I love reading through the personification of wisdom in chapter 3:13-20 and found the parallels to Jesus to be so abundant!
“Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”
Proverbs 3:17 – her ways are pleasant and all her paths peaceful.
Matthew 11:30 – For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Proverbs 3:18 – She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and those who hold on to her are happy.
Genesis 2:9 – The Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Proverbs 3:19 – The Lord founded the earth by wisdom and established the heavens by understanding.
Colossians 1:15-16a – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible.
What wonderful joy it is to know that we do not have to keep track of all these rules and tips for a good life because Jesus IS Wisdom!
What other parallels to Jesus do you find in chapters four and five?