Yahweh God has, is and always will be a covenant God. A quick search for “covenant” in your favorite Bible app, website or concordance will easily demonstrate this fact and yet will only scratch the surface.
Not long ago I wrote a post on “hesed” — a Hebrew word used hundreds of times in the Old Testament. It’s a very layered term, but Biblical scholars across the spectrum now believe it means something closer to “faithful love” or “covenant love” than to the KJV rendering of “mercy”. Middle Age church fathers, who commissioned many early English Bible translations (Roman Catholic & Protestant), errantly, I believe, portrayed God as primarily vengeful rather than as faithfully loving to a 1000 generations (Duet 7:9).
Another common old testament Hebrew word, used almost 1200 times in the KJV OT, is “sama/sh’ma” which means to hear & obey (see Strongs Concordance: H8085). This term alludes to the reflective nature of God and His people. If we expect to be heard/obeyed by God, we must hear/obey Him!
Proverbs 16 [World English Bible]:
29 Yahweh is far from the wicked,
but he sh’ma [hears obeys] the prayer of the upright.
31 The ear that sh’ma [hears obeys] reproof lives,
and will be at home among the wise.
The Hebrew word for wisdom, chochmah / chokmah (Strong’s H2451), is another term alluding to the covenant nature of God which just happens to double for the pre-Incarnate Christ. In other words, if you want to obtain and retain Wisdom, you must approach Him in a certain way. Early church luminaries (Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, etc) quoted Proverbs 8 often in describing the nature of the Son of God and His relationship to the Father. That chapter doesn’t simply recount Wisdom creating the material world, but also His setting in motion and governing imponderables like prudence, knowledge, counsel, understanding & power. Who knew that all things were by Him and through Him (Col 1:16)?! This might change how you read Proverbs!
Two verses that incorporate sh’ma & chochmah:
32 “Now therefore, my sons, sh’ma [hear obey] unto me,
for blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Sh’ma [Hear obey] instruction, and be chacham [wise].
Don’t refuse it.
34 Blessed is the man who sh’ma [hears obeys] me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting at my door posts.
35 For whoever finds me, finds life,
and will obtain favor from Yahweh.
NOTE: “chacham” (wise) in vs 33 is a participle of “chochmah” (wisdom)
Now let’s add in another covenant-friendly term: ‘ahav. This Hebrew word (Strong’s H157) for affectionate love occurs over 200 times in the KJV OT.
Again, let’s explore Proverbs 8:
17 I ‘ahav [affectionately love] those who ‘ahav [affectionately love] me.
Those who seek me diligently will find me.
The “me” spoken of in this verse is chochmah (Wisdom as personified by Christ). Notice the parallelism. See how everything connects?
Trust me, you’re only standing OVER and looking down INTO the rabbit hole. Let’s take a baby step down into it.
There’s a term for Christ in Greek that is very difficult to translate: logos (see John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God…”). The Hebrew analog is “Davar” and its root word (dabar – Strong’s H1697) appears almost 1500 times in the OT. Messianic & Jewish English Bibles sometimes leave it untranslated in certain contexts, because to reduce it to “Word”, “Substance”, “Manifestation” or “Instance” still limits the text! It’s a term that tries to get at the essence of the Son of God. How hard could that be??
Well… “Davar” just happens to appear in Proverbs too.
Proverbs 16 [Orthodox Jewish Bible]:
20 He that wisely heeds the Davar shall find tov (good), and he who trusteth in Hashem (Yahweh), happy is he.
While this may seem like a verse for children, it literally connects Christ and Father God to us through obedience as expressed through Wisdom (we’re in a hall of mirrors). Remember, if you receive anything good, it ultimately comes from the Father of Lights (James 1:17, cf Matt 19:17)!
In a future installment I may, God willing, explore what happens to those who decide to break covenant with Yahweh by ignoring His Wisdom (sometimes by internalizing human “wisdom” without even knowing it). Spoiler: the consequences begin long before Judgement Day.