The book of Wisdom, sometimes called “The Wisdom of Solomon” is patterned after the other wisdom literature in the Bible.
Wisdom is an Apocrypha book and not included in all versions of the Bible. The New Jerusalem Bible, Revised Standard Version (RSV), New American Bible (NABRE), Wycliffe Bible (WYC), Common English Bible (CEB), Good News Translation (GNT), and Douay-Rheims (DRA) all include the book of Wisdom. Interestingly, the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) contains Wisdom, but the text was removed almost two centuries later. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also includes the book of Wisdom.
In my last post I noted that the Bible says we are to fear God — and I confessed confusion over precisely what that means.
The next step in my progression of thought is to recall that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and of understanding.
I think that means it’s okay I don’t fully know what it means to fear God, but as I contemplate it, I will begin to understand.
I will begin to realize that God is almighty and all powerful, that he is our awesome creator, our loving savior, and our ever-present guide. For that I can revere him, worship him, respect him, and perhaps have a bit of reverent fear.
But there’s more…so come back next week to find out.
Until then, What wisdom do you have as a result of fearing God?
If “wisdom” is the theme of Proverbs, then “path” may be the context. There are good paths and evil paths, straight paths and crooked paths. There are the paths of the righteous and paths of the wicked.
For those who are wise and make good decisions, there is the right path, the path of life, of peace, of justice, of the upright, and that leads to immortality.
Taking a journey — the journey of life — implies making decisions. Which paths do you take? This isn’t a one-time selection, but a series of choices, of continuing to choose the right path, repeatedly making the good and right decision.
And the best part is that we don’t need to travel alone. We have a “spiritual” GPS to guide us, God’s spirit. David acknowledged that God had supernaturally revealed the right path to him (Psalm 16:11) and Peter confirmed that many centuries later (Acts 2:28).
We also have the Bible to guide us in selecting the right paths, with over 100 mentions of the word. Proverbs is especially helpful (as are the books of Job and Psalms). Not only does Proverbs mention “path” 28 times, but its sub-contexts point to it as well.
Among all the reoccurring words in Proverbs, it is “wisdom” that is the most prominent — mentioned 54 times. Wisdom, in fact, is the central theme of the book, effectively summarizing its focus and purpose.
The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight; common sense; good judgment.”
Given this definition, it would seem that wisdom is more of an innate characteristic than something that can be learned or acquired. Yet Proverbs continually advises readers to seek wisdom, to obtain wisdom, to get wisdom, to keep wisdom, and to gain wisdom. Not only is wisdom imperative, it is apparently also accessible.
But, how? From God. He gives wisdom. James writes that “if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
This is how we seek wisdom. Proverbs is the primer; God is the source.
Song of Songs is commonly categorized as wisdom literature in the Bible. With the possible exception of Job, it is not like the other wisdom books, nor like any other book in the Bible. It is easy to imagine Song of Songs as being the lines to a play that King Solomon wrote to both entertain and teach his people. As such, Song of Songs may be more akin to a modern-day screenplay than anything else.
There are three characters in this play, the beloved (the girl), the lover (the king), and the friends (think of them as the “chorus”). Headings, indicating the three parts, are inserted in some versions to reflect the pronouns used in the original Hebrew text, though some of the delineations between speakers are not absolute.
The book can be read straight through as a narrative or the various speakers (lover, beloved, and friends) can be pulled out read individually to gain a better understanding of each character. In doing so,
the lover mostly upholds and celebrates her beauty,
the beloved mostly talks about her deep yearning for him and desire to be with him, and
the words of the “friends” often provide a transition or information for the play.
In reading the words of the lover (the king), we can gain insight into God’s love for us and how he views us.
In focusing on the words of the beloved (the girl), we get a glimpse of what our response to God should rightly be.
Reading the Song of Songs with this perspective, gives me much to consider.
God told King Solomon to ask for anything and it would be given to him. (I think this is the closest thing we see in the Bible to God granting wishes like a genie.)
Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge. And God gave it to him — along with wealth and power as a bonus. The Bible later says that Solomon was wiser than anyone else who ever lived.
It is from this man — the wisest one who ever lived — that we get the book of Ecclesiastes. Go figure. If Solomon’s writing in Ecclesiastes is a showcase of wisdom and the result of knowledge, then I’ll pass.
However, we also know that Solomon was distracted by the beliefs of his many wives. They turned his attention away from God and towards other things.
So, despite being wise, Solomon became unwise and strayed from God. I wonder if the book of Ecclesiastes is a reflection of that.
Check out these books of the Bible, which are not found in all versions, but are in others, such as The Jerusalem Bible:
Tobit is a story of Tobiah who journeys with Raphael to retrieve some money for his father (Tobit). Along the way he is attacked by a fish and gets married; when he returns home, he restores his father’s eyesight.
Judith is an account of beautiful and pious women, who daringly and single-handedly delivers the Jewish people from their enemy, using her beauty and charm, while remaining pure and chaste.
1 Maccabees is both a historical and literary work about stoic faith; it addresses the politics and military situation around Israel circa the second century BCE.
2 Maccabees covers approximately the same time as First Maccabees, but from a different perspective and includes signs, wonders, and miracles.
Wisdom (aka The Wisdom of Solomon) is like other wisdom literature in the Bible.
Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus, not to be confused with Ecclesiastes), is a compilation of sayings similar to Proverbs, concluding with a tribute to notable Jewish figures.
Baruch, written by Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe), is effectively a sequel to the book of Jeremiah, written after the people are exiled.
New information is added to A Bible A Day, seemingly on a weekly basis.
One such example is the initial adding of information about the Apocrypha books. These books are found in some versions of the Bible, but not all. It is important to have them covered, since some tenets of Christianity deem these writings as holy and inspired. They have been added to allow A Bible A Day to be more inclusive, better representing all who read and revere the Bible.
The first group of Apocrypha books have been included in A Bible A Day. These are Old Testament writings that are not included in the Jewish and Protestant Bibles, but are part of the Roman Catholic Bible and others; they are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch.