The Gospel in Proverbs 30
BY TOM HOLTProverbs 30In Proverbs Chapter 30, God speaks of five groups of four things, each of which group share some common characteristics. The things mentioned range from ants to spider, from a ship to thirsty land, from a fool to a brawling woman. Most of us tend to gloss over these verses, while some try to rationalize what God is saying there.
Having recently spent some time studying this chapter, I've found that hidden in these passages are various aspects of God's salvation program, and I would like to share them with you.
I. Unending damnationThere are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough (vv. 15b,16).This passage is really warning that the punishment of unsaved people in hell will never end, because
it can never fully satisfy the requirements of the law.
The grave, of course, has to do with death, the second death in this context; and fire, the judgment of God. In the Old Testament both the barren womb and a thirsty land are also associated with the wrath of God.
In II Samuel 6, you may remember, when David had the ark finally brought back to Jerusalem, he was so elated that he leaped and danced before the Lord. But when Michal, his wife, saw him doing that, "she despised him in her heart" (v. 16). God then tells us in verse 23, "Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death."
On the positive side, when Moses tells the Israelites in Deuteronomy 7 of the blessings of being obedient to God, he says in verse 14, "Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle."
Later, warning them against disobedience, Moses says in Deuteronomy 28:24, "The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed."
(Being barren is no longer a curse in the New Testament period, especially in these end-time days. Jesus says in Luke 23:29, "For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.")
II. Too Wonderful to KnowThere be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid (vv. 18,19).Notice the similarity of the first statement to Psalm 139:6, where David says, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." What knowledge is David talking about? The knowledge of being personally known by God. In verses 2-4, he has said: "Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways."
Not surprisingly, therefore, the four things listed here all relate to God's wonderful salvation program.
In Exodus 19:4, God says to the Israelites, "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself."An eagle in the air is thus a picture of God carrying us on His wings as he delivers us from the power of darkness and translates us into the kingdom of His Son.
Christ, we all know, is the Rock of our salvation. The picture of a serpent upon a rock thus illustrates that which Jesus experienced in His Passion to save us. He allowed Himself to come under the power of Satan. When He surrendered to the religious leaders at Gethsemane, He told them, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53).
In the Bible, a ship is often used to typify the church. In Matthew 14, we read that Jesus "constrained his disciples to get into a ship" (v. 22). Verse 24 then tells us, "But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary." That's a picture of the church constantly being attacked by Satan. The wonderful thing is, no matter how fierce the storms may be, Christ ultimately calms the sea and we believers will reach heaven safely.
Equally wonderful is the way of a man with a maid when that man is the Lord Jesus and the maid is His wife, the church. The very thought that the Eternal Creator of all things has Himself prepared us believers "as a bride adorned for her husband" is truly too wonderful for us to really understand.
III. Causes for JudgmentFor three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear: For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat; For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress (vv. 21-23).The Hebrew word for "disquieted" is often translated "quake" or "tremble" elsewhere in the Bible, and earthquakes are a type of Judgment Day. Speaking of that day, for example, Joel 2:10 says: "The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining." And Nahum 1:5: "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein."
The hills melt because they cannot "bear under" the earthquake. In this passage, therefore, God is listing four phenomena that are contrary to the will and the word of God, and for which He will bring judgment to the world. Here are some of the scriptures to which those four are contrary:
"Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes" (Prov. 19:10).
"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed (an odious woman) is as rottenness in his bones" (12:4).
"And he went in unto Hagar (an handmaid), and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. (Gen. 16:4); and "Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac" (21:10).
IV. Little but WiseThere be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings'These are pictures of Christians who, though little by themselves, are graced with the wisdom of God. Like ants, we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:20) to anticipate the spiritual winter. Like conies, a kind of rabbit, we take our refuge in Christ, the rock of our salvation. We are citizens of a kingdom that is not of this earth. Yet, like locusts, we walk together united in mind, thought and spirit. Finally, although we, like spiders, have to make a living by our labor, we make our home in the glorious palace of the King of kings.
palaces (vv. 24-28).
V. Perfectly RighteousThere be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up (vv. 29-31).The Hebrew word for "go" is also translated "steps" and "goings" elsewhere in the Bible. Here are two examples from the Book of Job: "Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? (31:4) and "For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings" (34:21). From the context of these two verses, we can see that it has to do with one's behavior.
The only person whose goings are perfectly well and comely is the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the four beings listed here are all pointing to Him.
Being the Lion of the tribe of Judah, He is by far the strongest among all living creatures; He retreats from no one.
The word "greyhound" is from the Hebrew words zarzir mothnayim, which, according to the Interlinear Bible, means literally "one girted in the loins". Speaking of the Messiah that was to come, Isaiah 11:5 prophesied, "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins."
He goats are among the animals that were offered as sacrifices under the Old Testament ceremonial law. All those animals were shadows of Christ, who was the only sacrifice for our sin acceptable to God.
Finally, the king against whom there is no rising up can be none other than our Almighty Savior, for at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. o
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