Better in Every Way

Jesus said that He was greater than Solomon. Here’s what that actually means.

Chris Hutchison on September 8, 2020

Jesus Christ proclaimed himself greater than Solomon, challenging his disciples to hear his incomparable wisdom (Matt. 12:42). His superiority to Solomon and to his wisdom can be seen in the following contrasts, citing Solomon’s proverbs first and then New Testament references.

– The Queen of Sheba testified to Solomon’s wisdom in this world, but she will rise at the judgment to condemn people for not listening to Christ’s superior wisdom (Matt. 12:46).

– Solomon taught his disciples to wait for God to repay the wrongdoer, but Christ himself will repay them (Prov. 24:12; Matt. 25:41–46; Rev. 2:23; 22:12; cf. Rom. 2:6–8; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:12–13).

– Solomon depended on God to discipline those he loves, but Christ himself disciplines those he loves (3:11–12; Rev. 3:19).

– Solomon taught that those who share with the poor will be rewarded by God, but Christ identifies himself with and as the poor and as the one who rewards those who sacrifice for them (Matt. 25:31–45).

– Solomon focused on health and wealth now and minimized present sufferings; Christ focused on present suffering for righteousness and maximized future, eternal glory (3:1–10, 34; Matt. 5:3–12; 25:1–13)

– Solomon offers eternal life opaquely, but Christ by his resurrection brought immortality into the full light of day (8:35; Matt. 25:46; 2 Tim. 1:10).

– Solomon motivates his disciples to please their parents, but Christ, while upholding the honor of parents, teaches his disciples to love the triune God more (10:1; 19:13; 23:22–25; 27:11; 29:3; Matt. 5:45; 7:21; 10:32, 33, 35, 37; 15:4; 23:9; 25:34; Luke 9:60).

– Solomon’s wisdom is a bubbling brook, but Christ offers streams of water from within (18:4; John 7:38).

– Solomon offers a banquet of food and drink, but Christ himself is the Christian’s food and drink (Prov. 9:1–3; John 6:53).

– No human ascended into heaven to comprehend the whole, but Christ both descended from heaven and ascended into it (30:4; John 3:13; 6:33).

– Solomon depended in part on the sayings of others, but Christ speaks as the authoritative Son of Man from heaven (Prov. 20:23; Matthew 12).

– Solomon calls on his disciples to write his teachings on their hearts, but Christ sends his Spirit to write God’s word on their hearts (Prov. 3:3; 2 Cor. 3:3).

– Solomon calls for obedience, but Christ’s Spirit empowers his elect to obey (Prov. 1:20–21; Rom. 8:1–8).

– Solomon anticipates a future ideal king (16:10–15), but Christ is the Messiah (Matt. 27:37).

– Solomon pointed to atonement by showing reliable love to others, but Christ showed such reliable love to his own that he died to atone for their sin (Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:14).

– Solomon himself failed to obey his wisdom, but Christ is the perfect example of his (3:2; 25:26; 1 K. 11:9–10; Luke 2:52; Heb. 4:15).

– Solomon lost his kingdom, but Christ builds his (1 K. 11:10; Matt. 16:18).

– Solomon called on his disciples to feed their enemies, but Christ died for his enemies (25:21; Rom 5:8).

Nevertheless, even though Christ’s wisdom is so much greater than Solomon’s, we do not discard the latter any more than we would throw away a five-dollar bill because we also owned a twenty-dollar bill.

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), 131-132.

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