Proverbs 30:4--What is the Name of His Son?
In your article Why be a Trinitarian? you argued that the Son is not found in the Old Testament, only the New Testament, and concluded by such that "Son" is an incarnational term making reference to the human child God fathered, not an eternally distinct person in the Godhead. How do you explain Proverbs 30:4, then, which says, "Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son's name, If you know?" (NKJV) If God does not have an eternal Son, who is the author referring to here?
Concerning my statements that the OT does not mention the Son, let me say a few words. In certain OT passages YHWH does speak to, or of the Son (Psalm 2:7; 45:6; 110:1), but a few things should be noted. First, it is never said that the "Father" spoke to the Son. It only speaks of "YHWH" or "God," never suggesting a Father-Son relationship prior to the incarnation. Secondly, these OT passages are clearly prophetic in nature, speaking of the future Messiah, and thus cannot be divorced from the incarnation which was yet future. The communication between YHWH and the Messiah (Son) was not a present transaction, but a future event. If God is an eternal Trinity of divine persons, however, we would expect to find the Father and Son communicating with one another prior to the incarnation. But we do not find any references to the Son in the OT other than in prophetic passages, and thus have no reason to conclude that the Son was an eternally distinct divine person in the Godhead. See my article titled Eternal Father, Eternal Son?
Proverbs 30:4 is one of those verses that some Trinitarians have tried to make into a powerful Trinitarian verse, but to their own embarrassment. Not only does this verse fail to confirm that God is a Trinity or the existence of an eternal Son, but a proper interpretation of the verse in its context will demonstrate that this verse has nothing to do with God.
Notice verses 2-3. Agur said, "Surely I am more stupid than any man, and do not have the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom nor have knowledge of the Holy One." (NKJV) The author is stressing His ignorance in light of the Holy One by exaggeration, claiming that he is more stupid than any man, and then goes on to say that he does not even have the understanding of a human being. He is trying to show how great God is, and how insignificant our understanding of Him is. Compared to God all of us are "stupid." It is at this point that the author stated the verse in question. Agur asked several rhetorical questions:
1. Who has ascended or descended into heaven?
2. Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
3. Who has wrapped up the waters in their cloak?
4. Who has established the ends of the earth?
Seeing that these rhetorical questions were asked immediately after highlighting man's ignorance in lieu of God's wisdom, the expected answer is negative, "Not man!" What man has ascended or descended into heaven? There is no man, thus highlighting man's insignificance in light of the Holy One. Who has gathered the wind in his fists? There is no man, again highlighting man's insignificance in light of the Holy One. The same can be said of wrapping up the waters in one's cloak and establishing the ends of the earth. There is no man who can do such, only God. Only after this series of rhetorical questions does the author ask his readers to tell him who has done these things. The author is not asking what divine being has done these things, but what man has done these things. Essentially he was asking, "If you know a man who has done these things, tell me his name and the name of his son." (The whole idea of giving the name of the individual and the name of his son serves to identify the man who did these things. It must be remembered that in Biblical times people did not have last names to distinguish themselves from others with the same name. To name one's son was a further mark of identification, clarifying which individual is being named.) Obviously no man did these things, thus neither he nor his son could be identified. Seeing that no man could be identified (and thus no man's son) it demonstrated that only God could do these things, and man was nothing in comparison to Him. That was precisely the point the author was trying to stress to his readers. No man can do what God can do. He is so much greater than we are.
This seems so simplistic that I am surprised Trinitarians continue to use this verse to support their theology. This is just another example of Trinitarians scraping at anything in order to find Biblical support for the Trinity. Trinitarians have made such a big deal over this verse because they found something in the OT that mentions the Son, which they do not find anywhere else (to their embarrassment), so they ignore the context to champion their Trinitarian theory when in all reality this passage has nothing to do with God's identity. Some Trinitarians, such as the translators of the NET Bible, are honest enough to say that this passage may only "hint ... of the nature of the Messiah as Son, a hint that will be revealed in full through the incarnation."1 Notice the future tense of their words. Those translators did not see this verse as a confirmation of a Trinity in the OT. We can be assured that Proverbs 30:4 does not teach an eternal Son in the Godhead.
1. The NET Bible, First Beta edition, Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., study note 23, p. 1144.
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