and in its pathway there is no death.
One of my weaknesses is my inability to do more than one thing at a time. I am not a good multi-tasker. Therefore, in meditating on and writing about the Proverbs, I rarely look ahead, and if I do, at my age, I quickly forget what lies ahead. So I am always amazed at how my poor attempt at a Christological interpretation of the Proverbs tends to such a smooth transition from one proverb to the next. Yesterday, I argued that the Book of Proverbs is far more eschatological than is generally recognized by most of the commentators. To put it more simply, Proverbs is constantly talking to us about eternal life and eternal death, heaven and hell. I honestly had no idea that today's proverb would be one of the clearest examples of Solomon's belief in life beyond the grave.
The Israelites' belief in immortality should not surprise us. Many of her idolatrous neighbors believed in immortality, so are we really to believe that the people of the true God would not also believe in life with the Lord after death? Egypt, for example, is well known for its belief that the pharaoh upon his clinical death would journey from this life to the next life. But Israel's belief in the next life is different than Egypt's view which limited eternal life to pharaoh. In Proverbs the Lord democratizes this eternal life and offers it to all who are willing to walk in wisdom's path of righteousness.
There is a hiddenness about the Old Testament. The apostle Paul speaks of this hiddenness when he speaks of "the mystery hidden for ages and generations" (Colossians 1:26). But this does not mean that New Testament believers should read the Old Testament in this hidden way! On the contrary, the very next words from Paul's mouth are "but now revealed to his saints!" (v. 26). We, Christ's people, are now to mine "the riches of the glory of this mystery!" (v. 27). What was hidden in the Old Testament Scriptures, God has now made "fully known" (v. 25), through his beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
But we really don't have to do much mining of today's proverb to discover the immortality that is taught. The word "life" in line one is paralleled with "no death," in line two. Since every person born has also died, with the exception of Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1-18), what can it mean that in the pathway of righteousness there is no death, except that those who walk with the Lord will live after they physically die! Eternal life belongs to those who walk with the Lord. It was said that "Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). Our verse is saying the same is true for all who walk with God in his path of righteousness, though unlike Enoch, we may have to pass through death before the Lord takes us to himself, barring his soon return.
The Heidelberg Catechism (Q&A 42) is very good on this point. It asks:
"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him."
The second part of this verse, "walk in him," is not optional. Sadly, many today think it is. Undoubtedly, we all will struggle with the flesh, our sinful nature, our entire life. But with that struggle understood, if we have no desire or interest in walking with Jesus in the obedience that flows from faith, then we should be concerned about our souls and cry out to Him for the help of his Spirit. For the Spirit's work in our hearts, as the Heidelberg Catechism, again, faithfully teaches, is to make us willing to live for Christ:
"Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life AND makes