Proverbs and OT Theology(?) (Waltke)

The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1–15 Some OT scholars find Proverbs problematic because as wisdom literature it doesn’t seem to fit into the OT.  Proverbs never mentions covenant for example, nor does it have a messianic emphasis.  G. E. Wright said that OT wisdom literature like Proverbs “is something of a problem.”  I appreciate how Bruce Waltke responded to this discussion in the introduction of his 2-volume commentary on Proverbs in the NICOT series:

The apparent lack of integration between Proverbs and the rest of the Old Testament, however, is more superficial than real. W. Kaiser rightly united them in terms of their common appeal to their audiences’ “fear of the Lord” (cf. Deut. 6:5; Josh. 24:14; Prov. 1:7; Isa. 29:13 [= “worship of me,” NIV]; passim). The Lord is God’s personal name, revealed to Israel in connection with his election of and his covenants with them (Gen. 12:8; Exod. 3:15; 6:2–8). To fear him means essentially to submit to his revealed will, whether through Moses or Solomon (see 1:7). Each in his own way seeks to establish the rule of Israel’s covenant-keeping God. Moreover, the theology of Proverbs complements the unified theology of Moses and the prophets. 

I have noted that Solomon ascribes the same attributes and actions to God as those ascribed to him by Moses and the prophets. According to all three, he is Creator of the cosmos (Deut. 10:14; Prov. 3:19–20; Prov. 1:7) and of all humanity (Deut. 4:32; Prov. 14:31; 29:13; Isa. 42:5). He is the same living God who will avenge wrong (Deut. 32:35, 40–41; Prov. 25:21–22; Nah. 1:2) and the same spiritual Being who comforts people and knows their ways (Deut. 23:14[15]; Prov. 5:21; 15:3; Jer. 16:17). He is the Sovereign directing history (Deut 4:19; 29:4, 26; Prov. 16:1–9, 33; 19:21; 20:24; Isa. 45:1–13) and yet present in it, withholding and giving rain (Deut. 11:13–17; Prov. 3:9–10; Hag. 1:10–11), disciplining his children (Deut. 8:5; Prov. 3:11–12; Isa. 1:4–6) and in his mercy answering their prayers (Deut. 4:29–31; Prov. 15:8, 29; Isa. 56:7). He is merciful (Deut. 4:31; 30:8; Prov. 28:13; Isa. 63:7), delights in justice and hates iniquity (Deut. 10:17; Prov. 11:1; 17:15; Isa. 1:16–17), and has aesthetic-ethical sensibilities (Deut. 22:4–11; 23:10–14[11–15]; Prov. 3:32; 6:16–19; 11:20; 15:9; Jer. 32:35).

 Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1–15, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 65.

[As a side, many volumes in the NICOT and NICNT series are currently on sale over at Logos Bible Software.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015