Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Seeing Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 15:24

Proverbs 15:24 (ESV)

The path of life leads upward for the prudent,
that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.


Two paths in life. One path leads upward to heaven above. The other path leads to hell below. One path brings eternal life. The other eternal death.

The word "Sheol" cannot merely mean the grave in this verse. If that was the case, then the proverb is untrue, for the prudent or wise, though they avoid an untimely death, still end up in the grave. No, the idea is that they avoid hell and the second death, which is forever, and walk on the path of life, which is a path of eternal life.

The good path is one of eternal life, because it is walked with Jesus Christ, who first walked this upward path on our behalf. In Luke 9:51, our Lord's path to heaven above is described: "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." His path to be "taken up" to heaven went through the suffering of the cross on our behalf. Jesus Christ is the path finder, who alone can guide us to heaven. In the development of the United States, the Oregon Trail was a route that took families to the west. The man who found this trail through the mountains was Kit Carson, who was known as the "path finder." But Jesus Christ is the true Path Finder, who alone can bring us to our heavenly destination.

Jesus is also our Husband and the Lover of our souls. Walking with him in love is a delight. The second line in our proverb alludes to earlier proverbs and the downward path. This downward path is a path of idolatry, symbolized by adultery and the woman of folly:

for her house sinks down to death,and her paths to the departed; (2:18)
Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; (5:5)
Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death. (7:27)

Why is woman folly and idolatry associated with this downward path to hell? The answer is given in Proverbs 2:17 and 7:19 as woman folly is described:

who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God;
For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey;

The woman of folly in Proverbs has left her true husband, the Lord. Metaphorically, her true husband, the Lord, is not home and away on a long journey.

The path downward is a path away from the presence of Jesus Christ, humanity's true Husband. It is an estrangement from him, rather than a walking with him. It is a trust in and love for the gifts of life, rather than the Giver of the gifts and life. It is a path where we follow our lusts and feelings, rather than following Jesus and his words in love.

Two paths. Which path will we choose? Proverbs, the book that teaches us about wisdom, is clear that the wise choice that leads to eternal life and avoids hell, is the path walked with Jesus Christ, the Path Finder and our Husband, the Lover of our souls.

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