“The light of the eyes gladdens the heart;
Good news puts fat on the bones.” – Proverbs 15:30
The book of Proverbs is considered to be part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament and is not generally viewed as the most evangelistic section of the Bible by most readers. I think, however, if we read Proverbs a little more slowly and a little bit more thoughtfully, we will find hidden in its wisdom a number of foreshadows of the gospel and of the Lord Jesus. I think Proverbs 15:30 is a good example of this.
First we need some background in how to read the proverbs. Because the book is not arranged in any apparent order, context for a given proverb does not help us understand the meaning of the proverb. There are, however, approaches to interpreting them. Many proverbs contrast the righteous and the wicked and give characteristics of each group and the wise man will make his life conform to the righteous standard. There are also a number of proverbs that display Hebrew parallelism, which means that the proverb says the same thing with two different expressions. If you can understand the meaning of one of the two expressions, then you have understood the basic teaching of the proverb. Proverbs 15:30 is such a proverb, an example of Hebrew parallelism. To grasp the message of Proverbs 15:30, then, we will focus on the second half of the verse.
“Good news puts fat on the bones.”
Having decided on an interpretation strategy, let’s look at the actual words. We can agree that the expression “puts fat on the bones” is not intended to speak about literal bones nor is it intended to speak about actual body fat. Rather, the expression “puts fat on the bones” can probably be translated as meaning, “brings happiness and prosperity.” Putting fat on the bones means that life is good and you feel that life is good. You are optimistic and hopeful and your life feels ‘fat.’ This is the opposite of worried or weary or withered or harried. Life is peaceful and content.
Now I would suggest that there are two different types of prosperity, two types of “fat on the bones.” There is temporary prosperity and there is permanent or eternal prosperity. Temporary prosperity is good, but there is with this temporary prosperity the feeling that it could go away at any time. There is the feeling that it is kind of like a beautiful sunset or a fragrant aroma: it is wonderful while it lasts, but this experience is definitely fleeting and fragile. But what if the prosperity was permanent, even eternal? Eternal prosperity that could never be lost – now THAT would truly be fat on the bones!
So, while the book of Proverbs is wisdom literature, we must realize that the Bible is not primarily written to make us happy for this life only. All of the Bible, including the book of Proverbs, is primarily aimed at telling us who God is, telling us who we are in relation to God, and instructing us how we can escape God’s wrath and enjoy Him instead. So when a verse in the Bible tells us about “putting fat on the bones,” we can be sure that the Bible is giving us some instruction about eternal prosperity. So “Good news puts fat on the bones” could also be rendered, “Good news guides us toward eternal prosperity.”
Now we are getting somewhere! Now we are making progress. So the key seems to be the “good news.” It would certainly be incredibly good news if the news we discovered led us to eternal prosperity, but what “good news” could do that? If we turn now to the pages of the New Testament, we find that there is a lot of talk about good news. In fact, the Greek word for “good news” is the word that is translated “gospel.” The main message of the New Testament is the good news (the gospel) of Jesus Christ. Mark begins his account of the life of Jesus Christ with this verse: “The beginning of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Paul says in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel (good news), for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.” What this means is that the good news that puts fat on the bones; the good news that leads to eternal prosperity is the gospel of Jesus Christ, that Christ has left heaven to come to earth to die an atoning death on the cross and to rise victorious from the grave, so that whoever places their faith in Him should not perish, but would have eternal life. Now that is good news that gladdens the heart and that puts major fat on the bones.
What we see, then, right here in Proverbs 15:30 is a veiled picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of His salvation, the good news that puts fat on our bones eternally.
SDG rmb 2/26/2017