A Few Reflections on Wisdom: Solomon as a Second Adam, Christ as a Better Solomon, and Christians Becoming True Humanity

halacious-OgvqXGL7XO4-unsplashAnd God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.
— 1 Kings 4:29–34 —

In Finding Favour in the Sight of God: A Theology of Wisdom LiteratureRichard Belcher introduces the reader to the world of biblical wisdom (ch. 1). The majority of his book examines the literary and theological aspects of Proverbs (chs. 2–4), Job (chs. 5–7), and Ecclesiastes (chs. 8–10). And he finishes by showing the relationship between Wisdom and Jesus Christ (ch. 11). In all, his book provides a rich resource for studying Old Testament Wisdom.

Still, one of the most helpful parts of his book is explaining the development of wisdom in the first chapter. Contrasting critical approaches which identify wisdom literature with other ancient Near Eastern religions, Belcher connects wisdom literature in the Bible with Solomon, who was granted such wisdom when he boldly asked for the Lord’s help to rule Israel (1 Kings 3).

In his discussion of wisdom’s development, Belcher draws an important connection between Solomon and his royal wisdom and Adam and his royal priestly calling. Here’s what he says, “The account of Solomon in 1 Kings makes allusions to Adam in the garden so that Solomon functions as a second Adam.” He goes on to explain why this is the case, Continue reading

A Theological Introduction to Ecclesiastes (pt. 3): Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Christ

[This is the final post on a theological introduction to the book of Ecclesiastes. See parts one and two].Ecclesiastes 3

Themes

Finally, there are a number of themes to consider in the book of Ecclesiastes. The ESV Study Bible lists six. These include:

  1. The Tragic Reality of the Fall.
  2. The ‘Vanity’ of Life.
  3. Sin and Death.
  4. The Joy and Frustration of Work.
  5. The Grateful Enjoyment of God’s Good Gifts.
  6. The Fear of God.

These six themes rightly observe the contents of the book. Yet, they do so in a thematic way that doesn’t sync with the biblical framework of creation, fall, and redemption. Therefore, let me suggest a four-fold scheme that augments these themes and helps us see the rudimentary features of the gospel in Ecclesiastes. Continue reading

A Theological Introduction to Ecclesiastes (pt. 2): Date, Title, Genre

[This is the second part of a three-part series outlining a theological introduction to Ecclesiastes].

Ecclesiastes 2Date: Tenth Century

If Solomon is the author (see part one), the date is pretty easy to determine (10th Century B.C.). A better question might be—on the basis of Solomon’s wise but foolish life—when did Solomon write this?

The book itself portrays an aged and chastened king calling young men to avoid the mistakes he has had made. From Solomon’s life we have much to learn, and the point that Solomon wants to drive home on the basis of his own life is twofold:

  1. Fear God and keep his commandments
  2. Beware the vanity of material pleasures

This is the counsel of an older man, whose pain drives him to warn others of his mistakes. Continue reading

A Theological Introduction to Ecclesiastes (Pt. 1): Authorship, Authority, and Intertextuality

[This post starts a three-part series aimed to introduce Ecclesiastes and draw a few theological implications from its overview].

Ecclesiastes 1

To get a handle on the book of Ecclesiastes it is imperative to understand who the human author is (or in this case, who is the most likely candidate). Likewise, since Ecclesiastes is part of the biblical canon, it behooves us to see how the New Testament cites Ecclesiastes. Last, since Ecclesiastes is one of many wisdom books, and one of three in Solomon’s corpus (Proverbs and Song of Songs being the other two), we will consider how Proverbs and Ecclesiastes relate to the life of Solomon and how a structural comparison with Proverbs helps us better understand this enigmatic book.  Continue reading

Introducing Bezalel: A Temple-Building Son of Judah

Introducing Bezalel

One of the main characters in Exodus is a man whose name only appears three other times in the whole Bible, and then only in genealogies in Chronicles and Ezra.  His name is Bezalel and he plays an enormous role in the construction of the tabernacle. Exodus 31:1–5 introduces him saying,

The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship,  to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.

Though Moses is given the vision of the tabernacle (Exod 25:40), and the people are called to furnish the materials (25:1–8; 35:4–9), it is the Spirit-endowed skill possessed by Bezalel that made it possible for the tabernacle to be constructed.  This is re-emphasized in Exodus 35:30-35, but it is Exodus 38:22 that I want to highlight.  There Moses records that “Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.”

Now it is obvious why Bezalel is mentioned in Exodus.  He is the chief foreman on the tabernacle project.  He is given skill and the wisdom of the Spirit to accomplish the task.  However, the more amazing point is this: Why is it important that Bezalel’s family lineage be mentioned?  Of course, it is nice to know a little background on the guy, but is that it?  I think there is something more going on… what you might call prophetic typology.

Type, Ectype, and Archetype

Can you think of anyone else from the tribe of Judah, who obeyed God’s law to build a tabernacle?  How about David and his son Solomon.  In the history of Israel, it is recorded that God gave David a vision of the temple, and that David passed on this architectural plan to Solomon (1 Chron 28:11-19).  Moreover, like Bezalel, YHWH gave Solomon unsurpassed wisdom in order to construct the tabernacle (1 Kings 3:10ff).  Thus, in a very real way, Solomon with his Spirit-endowed wisdom was a greater Bezalel.  Bezalel was the type; Solomon the ectype, or to say it another way, a greater installment of the temple-builder par excellence who was still to come.

In the New Testament, we find that the temple-building typology of Bezalel and Solomon is picked up in Jesus Christ.  Jesus who is a son of David, and a son of Judah (Matt 1:1-17) is the one who perfectly obeys the law of Moses (Matt 5:17).  Moreover, as Matthew describes “something greater than Solomon is here” (12:42b).  Then in Matthew 16:18, Jesus himself says that he is building a church, one that will never be destroyed by death, sin, or Satan.  He alludes to the “rock” which conjures up pictures of the temple mount, and he says that he is going to found his temple/church on Peter and the other apostles. (See G. K. Beale on how Matthew 16:18 relates to the temple mount, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God187–88).

Thus, in his death, Jesus becomes the cornerstone of a new temple.  Indeed, Paul uses temple imagery to describe what Jesus is doing by the Spirit.  He writes in Ephesians 2:19–22,

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The confirmation of the Bezalel-Solomon-Jesus typological structure finds further support in Hebrews, where the author compares and contrasts Moses and Jesus (Heb 3), and says that our Christ is not simply a servant in the house, he is “the builder of the house” (v. 3).  Accordingly, he deserves greater glory—more glory that Moses (and by extension Bezalel) who constructed a tent in the desert; more glory than Solomon who constructed a superlative temple in Jerusalem.  These typological dwellings were splendid in their own time and place, but compared to what Christ is doing in his church, they are dull and decrepit.

The Gospel of Temple Building Son of Judah

What a vision!  In Bezalel and later in Solomon, the Spirit of God is preparing the way for Christ to come.  The typology is not just a retrospective analogy between Jesus and Bezalel.  Rather, set in history, God has set aside Bezalel as a son of Judah, to become a temple-builder, so that when Christ comes into the world, we would see an entire history of Spirit-filled men from Judah building a dwelling place for God with his people.

Once again, we see in Exodus the way Christ is foreshadowed.  He is the substance from which Bezalel is the historical shadow.  It is a glorious reminder that all Scripture points us to Jesus, and that on every page of God’s inspired text, we see glimpses of our savior reflected in the saints who are shaped by the Spirit of Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

Walk in the Way of Wisdom: Be Slow to Anger

James, a bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, writes: “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires” (1:19-20).

Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of teaching the Open Bible Study at my church, Ninth and O Baptist.  The assigned topic was “Anger,” and I taught from James 1:19-27.  After surveying the complexities of anger throughout Scripture we landed here because of James’ short, yet powerful, admonition to throw off the filthiness of anger and to embrace the word which can save your soul (v. 21). 

There is much to be heard in James about anger, but it is apparent that he is not writing anything novel.  He draws heavily on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and the wisdom of the Old Testament.   Below is a list of Proverbs that surely informed James understanding of anger and speech, wisdom and foolishness, and the intricate relationships between them.  They call us who want to walk in the way of wisdom to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  Read them slowly and ask: Does my life display wisdom or foolishness? 

(The italicized words are the verse, ESV.  What follows the “=” attempts to synthesize the proverb).

Proverbs
12:15
The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice = listening quells anger

12:16The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult = foolish anger is not hidden

14:17 A man of quicker temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated = sudden anger is foolish

14:29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly

15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger = anger provokes more anger

15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention = patient assuages anger

15:32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city = those who possess the earth through force, violence, and oppression are in the end small men

19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook an offense = anger ruins reputations, while controlling anger gains honor

19:19 A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again = anger is not a isolated incident; it is a pattern, a way of life, a means of gaining ground in life

19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

20:2 Whoever provokes [terrible king] to anger forfeits his life = anger + power = death for the object of wrath

21:14 A gift in secret averts anger, and a concealed bribe, strong wrath = anger is assuaged through by payment

21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

22:24f Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with wrathful man; lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare = the result of anger is a snare (i.e. entrapment, bondage, and death)

25:8 What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end when your neighbor puts you to shame? = Hasty accusations fail to gather all the facts and result in personal shame

27:4 Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? = the characteristic that makes anger so dangerous is the fact that what may appear controlled is in fact intractable

28:20 A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

29:22 A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression = the damning effects of anger are far reaching because one man’s anger promotes sin in the lives of others

30:33 For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife = the fruit of anger is strife (i.e. division, discord, and the separation of relationships)

Ecclesiastes
5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools…be not rash with you mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and your are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.

7:8-9 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient spirit is better than the proud spirit;
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools
= anger is complicit with foolishness, the fool becomes angry; anger is not like something spilt on the hand or something stepped in by the foot, which can easily be removed or cleansed. Anger roots itself deep within the soul of the (wo)man and becomes lodged. It ensnares! Anger is a way of life, not easily discarded and one that arises in all sorts of unbecoming ways, proving a man’s folly.

May we flee folly and run to the all-wise one, Jesus Christ!

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

Why Blog? (Part 2)

Why Blog?

Let me suggest another reason: In order to grow in the wisdom of God’s word and to better understand and articulate its Truth.

Consider 2 Timothy 2:7 with me. Paul writes, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” This verse has two parts. First, is the command to “think over what I say”–in other words, to cogitate, to meditate, and to postulate on the inspired words of the living apostle. Enlisting the imagery of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer in previous verses to respectively illustrate devotion, honesty, and rigorous labor, the elder apostle seems to indicate the value in thinking hard upon the his apostolic message (cf. 2:2). Certainly, the apostle Peter considered some of Paul’s words very challenging (2 Pet. 3:15-16), and thus these truths needed then and still require careful and thoughtful attention. For this reason alone, blogging is useful because it stimulates thought.

In addition to this plain command comes the second part of the verse which underscores a foundational principle, “the Lord [gives] understanding.” This command to think in verse 7 is coupled with the biblical the reality that the Spirit of Christ must illumine truth (cf. John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:14-16; 1 John 2:27). This means that hard thinking alone does not produce revelation. The story of Martin Luther teaches us this. The Augustinian monk beat on Romans 1:17 until Paul was a bloody mess, but not until the Spirit moved did the apostle speak and divulge his secrets of justifying fatih.

This dual reality, then, is humbling and refreshing truth. Humbling because mankind is absolutely dependent on divine revelation; refreshing because God graciously reveals himself to those who earnestly seek him (Jer. 29:11; Matt. 7:7). Consequently, blogging when done well, perhaps even done “spiritually,” is an exercise in biblical cogitation which can and should promote a humble cry for help in ascertaining God’s truth. Likewise, in expressing these truths in open conversation allows for more precise application and proclamation in a sin-darkened world. Of course, thing like personal hubris, vanity, and self-deceit stand in the way of this aim, but without compromise this must be the kind of blogging to which we endeavor–the kind that thinks hard and prays for wisdom in our choice of words. Paul knew this dual reality, so did Solomon (see below). Think hard about it and ask the Lord, “Do you?”

May the Lord give us grace to see our blindness.

Proverbs 2:1-7

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,