On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 11: The Wisdom of Kings

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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 11: The Wisdom of Kings

Discussing the latter portion of Wisdom chapter 5 in our last presentation on the Wisdom of Solomon here, which was titled Who are the World?, we had observed that Wisdom describes the promised vengeance of Yahweh God against His enemies in different terms, but in a manner which is completely agreeable in meaning with prophecies of that same vengeance which are found in Micah chapter 4 and Revelation chapter 18. Once we understand what Solomon had meant where he said that Yahweh would “make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies”, as he himself defines the creature, or creation, as the twelve tribes of the children of Israel organized under the law in Wisdom chapter 19, then we can also understand that he was describing that same phenomenon which was prophesied in different terms in Micah chapter 4 as a call to the children of Israel to “arise and thresh”, and in Revelation chapter 18 as a call to the people of God to “come out of her My people” and then to turn and “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.” So all three passages have virtually the same meaning, in the same prophetic context.

So in the Wisdom of Solomon we see what Micah had also prophesied, and what Christ Himself confirms in chapter 18 of His Revelation: that the children of Israel themselves shall ultimately be the instruments which are employed by Yahweh God in the execution of His vengeance against His enemies, and that is the day which all true Christians should await with anticipation. Likewise, Paul had told the Corinthians that they should be ready to revenge all disobedience, once their own obedience is fulfilled (2 Corinthians 10:6). Noticing features such as this in Wisdom is an important step to recognizing the veracity of the work. Ultimately, the proof of a prophet is found in the fulfillment of the prophecy. But in this case, the prophecy is still anticipated, so the fulfillment is not yet realized. However if the author of Wisdom prophesied things which are also found in the words of later prophets, and then in the words of Christ Himself, although the language used to describe those things is markedly different, the prophet is nonetheless verified, because the Word of God has confirmed the prophecy for him.

While Wisdom has heretofore expressed many concepts which are found in the Psalms and Proverbs of Scripture, there are other concepts which it presents that are not found in those works of David or Solomon, or anywhere else in the earlier writings. Wisdom’s description of the children of Israel under the law as a distinct and peculiar creation, and their organization as the world of Scripture is only partially alluded to in Isaiah, but it is never stated explicitly. Yet the truth of these expressions and others is confirmed in the letters of Paul of Tarsus and the apostle Peter, while Wisdom also helps to clarify some of the statements in the Gospel of Christ, and in turn these concepts are confirmed in the Gospel of Christ. Acknowledging these aspects of the work leads to the conclusion that the book is true, and deserves to be recognized among our Scriptures. While we cannot repeat everything which we have already illustrated while discussing the first five chapters of Wisdom, we will offer one example: Here in Wisdom we see how Christ had come to save the world, yet He had come only for the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel, because they alone are His world.

Recognizing that Solomon was the author of Wisdom, and realizing that he was fulfilling the role of a prophet when Wisdom was written, we may see the verses which open chapter 6 as being prophetic in their nature, and while we already discussed them at length in our last presentation, we will repeat them in summary here:

Wisdom 6:1 Hear therefore, O ye kings, and understand; learn, ye that be judges of the ends of the earth. 2 Give ear, ye that rule the people, and glory in the multitude of nations. 3 For power is given you of the Lord, and sovereignty from the Highest, who shall try your works, and search out your counsels. 4 Because, being ministers of his kingdom, ye have not judged aright, nor kept the law, nor walked after the counsel of God; 5 Horribly and speedily shall he come upon you: for a sharp judgment shall be to them that be in high places.

When we first discussed these verses, we pondered whether Solomon was addressing kings of his own time, or if he was considering the children of Israel collectively to be the kings and servants of Yahweh, something which is also a matter of later prophecy. For example, in Isaiah chapter 41 we read “8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.” Then again in chapter 44: “1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: 2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.” So it is confirmed in Isaiah that the children of Israel collectively are the servants, or ministers, of Yahweh’s Kingdom.

The children of Israel were also to be a royal priesthood, as they were informed in Exodus 19:6 that “… ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” There it does not say with priests, but of priests. In the manner in which that statement is interpreted in 1 Peter chapter 2, we see Peter tell the Christians of Anatolia, descendants of those same ancient Israelites, that “… ye are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, an holy nation…” and therefore it is evident that the children of Israel were to be servants of God by fulfilling their destiny and ascending to rule over the world in order to build His kingdom. Peter interpreted the passage just as it is in the Septuagint where it also says “royal priesthood”. In those passages we have cited from Isaiah, even as the children of Israel had been taken into Assyrian captivity, Yahweh God was informing them that He would employ them as His servants to do His will. Ostensibly, once they turned to Christianity, Peter was certain that they would fulfill their duties as a royal priesthood, ministers of the kingdom of God.

So here it is evident that while Solomon may have been advising the children of Israel collectively, it is more evident that he was specifically addressing all future kings and rulers over the children of Israel, where he had warned them that if they did not judge aright or keep the law, then “a sharp judgment shall be to them that be in high places.” They were supposed to be judges of the earth, and if they failed in their obedience to God then they themselves would be judged.

As a digression, we shall once again address those critics who claim that Wisdom must have been written by an Alexandrian Jew of the first century before Christ. This attitude reflected by the author of Wisdom, that the kings of the earth – who are not Judaeans – would be expected to keep the laws of Moses and should be ministers of the kingdom of God, is absolutely contrary to the attitude of religious exclusivity maintained by Judaeans of that time. For example, in Acts chapter 22 it is described that the Judaeans of Jerusalem wanted to kill Paul as soon as he informed them that he intended to bring the Gospel of Christ to distant nations, even though they themselves rejected the Gospel of Christ. It is also fully evident that Judaeans would not even recognize or eat with non-Judaeans, the uncircumcised, and only dealt with the Romans when they were compelled to by force. The Judaean authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were absolutely opposed to Roman rule, and expected a Messiah who would overthrow the empire. They certainly did not perceive the Roman emperor to be a servant or minister of God. For these and many other reasons, Wisdom was not written by an Alexandrian.

Both David and Solomon considered themselves to have sat on the throne of Yahweh, as it is expressed in 1 Chronicles chapter 29: “23 Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him.” However few kings after them seem to have felt that same sense of responsibility towards God, so it is apparent that they did not consider themselves to be the “ministers of his kingdom”, as Solomon expresses it here. Yet the concept does appear once again in the words of Paul of Tarsus, in Romans chapter 13, where he explains that rulers are indeed the servants of Yahweh by whom He rewards good and evil, and Paul referred to them as “God’s ministers” explicitly.

While it is a common plight of prophets, Solomon’s warnings here seem to have been disregarded by most of his successors in Israel and Judah, and even by most of the kings throughout history. So we see many oracles against the kings of the nations in the words of the later prophets. For example, in Isaiah chapter 24 there is a prophecy of the day of the wrath of Yahweh and it says in part: “21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.” Speaking of the sins of ancient Israel, we read in Jeremiah chapter 2: “26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets…”

Again, in Jeremiah chapter 32, we see once again that “them that be in high places” are held accountable for the sins of the people: “32 Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. 34 But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it. 35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. 36 And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence…”

While of course we live in different times, the patterns of wickedness have not changed, and the rulers will be held to the same account which befalls the common people when the day of judgment arrives. So with the return of the triumphant Christ upon a white horse in order to make war, as it is described in Revelation chapter 19, we read: “17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.”

This warning against the kings of the earth continues throughout this chapter of Wisdom, so now we will continue from where we had left off in our last presentation, and we read in the next verse of the chapter:

6 For mercy will soon pardon the meanest: but mighty men shall be mightily tormented.

Here the word for meanest, ἐλάχιστος, is literally least, and for tormented the verb is a form of ἐτάζω, which is literally to test. There is a similar warning in Proverbs chapter 29: “23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” Likewise Christ had warned, in Matthew chapter 23, that “12 … whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

But those who are humble are not necessarily those who are poor, or of low stature. True humility is a willingness to obey God, and the proud have rejected obedience and instead they depend on their own power for their righteousness, as Solomon had described in the opening chapters of this book of Wisdom. David, a king, wrote in the 9th Psalm “10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. 11 Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. 12 When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. 13 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: 14 That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.” In Jeremiah chapter 13, referring to Israel in captivity, we read: “18 Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.” So the mighty humble themselves through obedience, but not necessarily through poverty.

The apostles, notably Paul and James, had used the phrase respect of persons in relation to the political, social or economic status of men, as well as of their stature and appearance. Here in the context of this chapter Solomon clarifies the understanding that Yahweh God not being a respecter of persons, as Peter had professed in Acts chapter 10, describes His righteous judgment in spite of a man’s status or stature.

7 For he which is Lord over all shall fear no man's person, neither shall he stand in awe of any man's greatness: for he hath made the small and great, and careth for all alike.

We would translate verse 7 to read:

For He who is Lord of all shall not shrink back [οὐ γὰρ ὑποστελεῖται πρόσωπον ὁ πάντων δεσπότης] nor resepct greatness [οὐδὲ ἐντραπήσεται μέγεθος] because He has made great and small alike [ὅτι μικρὸν καὶ μέγαν αὐτὸς ἐποίησεν ὁμοίως] and has care for them all [τε προνοεῖ περὶ πάντων].

From the 33rd Psalm: “13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. 14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. 15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. 16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.” In that manner Solomon continues here:

8 But a sore trial shall come upon the mighty.

We would translate verse 8 to read:

But for the mighty [τοῖς δὲ κραταιοῖς] a severe inquiry approaches [ἰσχυρὰ ἐφίσταται ἔρευνα].

In Luke chapter 1, in the words of Mary the mother of the Christ, we see repeated some of the promises of this same judgment which are associated with the salvation which is in Christ: “50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.”

A similar statement is found not as a prophecy, but as a historical observation and reflection, in the Wisdom of Sirach, chapter 10: “14 The Lord hath cast down the thrones of proud princes, and set up the meek in their stead.” Another similar statement, offered as a general observation, is found in the words of Job in Job chapter 12: “21 He pours dishonour upon princes, and heals the lowly.” For that, Solomon continues with an admonition:

9 Unto you therefore, O kings, do I speak, that ye may learn wisdom, and not fall away.

The first clause of verse 9 should read “Therefore for you, O rulers [τύραννος], are these my words…”

Of course, where he said “ that ye may learn wisdom, and not fall away”, he is speaking to those kings who are expected to keep the law, as he had stated in verse 4. So he is addressing future kings of the children of Israel, and none others. Only the children of Israel ever had the law, and it was only intended for them, as Solomon’s own father, David, had written in the Psalms. So now, Solomon reiterates that same sentiment again where he addresses only those who are expected to be holy:

10 For they that keep holiness holily shall be judged holy: and they that have learned such things shall find what to answer.

Or they shall find a defense, or an apology, ostensibly at the same day of judgment where those who do not these things shall face severe trial. The words for holiness, holily and being judged holy are respectively from an adverb, an adjective and a verb which in Greek are all derived from the noun ὅσιος. According to Liddell & Scott, in ancient Greek ὅσιος described something which is sanctioned by the law of God, as opposed to δίκαιος which described something sanctioned by human law. Another word sometimes translated as holy, ἅγιος, described something set apart for the purposes of God.

So what is holy here is what is decreed in the laws of God, which were given only to the children of Israel, and therefore the kings which Solomon is addressing are indeed the future kings of the children of Israel, and Solomon is therefore writing prophetically. They that keep the things ordained in the laws of Yahweh in a manner which is prescribed by the law, shall be judged righteous as decreed by the law, and that shall stand as their answer in the day of judgment.

Here Solomon also professes a belief in the promises to Abraham ultimately inherited by Jacob, that they would be fulfilled in the children of Israel as they were written, for example in Genesis chapter 35 where we read concerning Jacob: “11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; 12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.” Just because Jacob was given the land of Canaan does not mean that his posterity would be confined to that land, as we read in Isaiah chapter 27 that “6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”

Where in the opening verse of this chapter Solomon informs us that he is addressing “kings … that be judges of the ends of the earth”, he is evidently writing for the future time when the prophecies of Moses would be fulfilled, and the people of Israel would be scattered to the ends of the earth, as we read in Deuteronomy chapter 33: “16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. 17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they [ostensibly, the horns] are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.” Likewise we read in 1 Samuel chapter 2: “10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

The fulfillment of this we read in the commision of Paul of Tarsus which the ascended Christ had conveyed to Hananias, as he cared for Paul after his experience on the road to Damascus. From Acts chapter 9, as it is translated in the Christogenea New Testament, Hananias is told to: “Go! For he is a vessel chosen by Me who is to bear My Name before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel.” Later, Paul had explained in Romans chapter 4 that the promises to Abraham had been fulfilled, and that his seed had already become many nations, “according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” Those are the twelve tribes to whom he had brought the Gospel, according to his own words in Acts chapter 26, who, as he professed in Acts chapter 22, were in nations far from Judaea, and were evidently in Europe and Anatolia as those places were the object of all of Paul’s missions.

Solomon continues to admonish the future kings of Israel in the name of Wisdom:

11 Wherefore set your affection upon my words; desire them, and ye shall be instructed.

The word for instructed here is from the verb παιδεύω, which is primarily used to describe the education or the correction of a παῖς, a son. That was also the theme of Proverbs, although it is not explicitly expressed in that manner here.

So in Proverbs, where a father is instructing a son in wisdom, which is the wisdom of God, we read in chapter 8: “12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. 13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. 14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. 15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.”

Now the benefits of Wisdom are described like some of the attributes of a beautiful woman:

12 Wisdom is glorious, and never fadeth away: yea, she is easily seen of them that love her, and found of such as seek her.

The phrase εὐχερῶς θεωρεῖται, easily seen here, would better have been translated as suitable to look at, or even more appropriately, pleasant to look at. Wisdom is pleasant to behold for them that love her.

Here Solomon commences with a protracted anthropomorphism, by giving human attributes to the wisdom of God and portraying it as a woman. He did this very same thing in the Proverbs, and issued similar warnings of the judgment which men who ignore her allures shall inevitably face, for example in Proverbs chapter 1: “20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.”

Now in contrast to that, Solomon continues to speak of those who would seek wisdom:

13 She preventeth them that desire her, in making herself first known unto them.

This translation is strange. Why would Solomon urge men to seek Wisdom if Wisdom herself would prevent them? He already said that she is “easily seen”, according to these same translators, and that she is found by those that seek her. We would translate verse 13 more accurately, to read:

She comes upon [φθάνει] those who desire [τοὺς ἐπιθυμοῦντας] to know her beforehand [προγνωσθῆναι].

But Solomon would be writing from experience, as we read in 2 Chronicles chapter 1: “7 In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. 8 And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead. 9 Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. 10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? 11 And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 12 Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.” The exchange was also recorded in 1 Kings chapter 3. So Solomon continues to write similarly, ostensibly from his own experience:

14 Whoso seeketh her early shall have no great travail: for he shall find her sitting at his doors.

We would translate verse 14 to read:

He arising for her in the morning [ὁ ὀρθρίσας πρὸς αὐτὴν] shall not be wearied [οὐ κοπιάσει], for he shall find her sitting beside his gates [πάρεδρον γὰρ εὑρήσει τῶν πυλῶν αὐτοῦ].

So once again, Solomon is informing his intended audience that Wisdom is not difficult to find, and when men seek to find it early, they will not toil to do so, because it will be found close by. Searching for wisdom rather than riches, they would be granted wisdom by God. The possibility is explained in Proverbs chapter 2: “1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.”

There are many parallels between the discussions of Wisdom found here and in the Proverbs, however the same concepts are often expressed in different terms. Wisdom comes from God, as it is made evident here in chapter 7 where Solomon wrote: “7 Wherefore I prayed, and understanding was given me: I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” This same thing is expressed in Proverbs in several ways, but explicitly in chapter 30 where we read: “3 God has taught me wisdom, and I know the knowledge of the holy.” But making this commentary, it would be tedious to illustrate every possible example of parallel passages, and we shall instead try to focus our concern with those that we find may help to explain the devices which the author used, or that illustrate the prophetic elements of his writing, or which serve to help clarify or which correlate with other aspects or passages of the Scripture.

15 To think therefore upon her is perfection of wisdom: and whoso watcheth for her shall quickly be without care.

The phrase “without care” comes from the Greek word ἀμέριμνος, which was primarily used to describe something free from care or unconcerned. So we would interpret this to mean that whoever obtains the wisdom which is of God should be without concern as he walks through life, as the apostle John had written in chapter 4 of his first epistle that “18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” As we shall see in the verses which follow, Solomon is going to arrive at a similar conclusion, albeit in a different way.

16 For she goeth about seeking such as are worthy of her, sheweth herself favourably unto them in the ways, and meeteth them in every thought.

In spite of his later sins, which also serve as an example to all of his successors, Solomon was granted wisdom because he sought wisdom, rather than ask for further riches or a long rule or anything else that may have satiated base and worldly desires. But even in the time of his sin, Solomon attested when he wrote Ecclesiastes that he knew he was sinning, and later seems to have repented of it, where he related the entire experience as an exercise in learning. As we had discussed in Part 8 of our commentary on Ecclesiastes, Even Vanity is Vanity, from the vanity of his own experience Solomon had urged men to repent while they have an opportunity. He realized from experience that there was no profit in folly, while he was also fortunate enough in spite of his sin to have lived long enough to explain why it is so. Therefore he now writes of discipline as the true beginning of wisdom:

17 For the very true beginning of her is the desire of discipline; and the care of discipline is love;

The word for discipline is παιδεία, which primarily describes the discipline, training or education of a child. The word for care is more literally thought.

From Proverbs chapter 9, where the King James translation of the Hebrew is wanting and therefore we prefer the version found in the Septuagint: “10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the counsel of saints is understanding: for to know the law is the character of a sound mind.”

Now Solomon continues to speak in respect to this same thing, and here he arrives at the conclusion which is also found in the first epistle of John:

18 And love is the keeping of her laws; and the giving heed unto her laws is the assurance of incorruption; 19 And incorruption maketh us near unto God:

While David in the 119th Psalm had written about his love for the law, only here in Wisdom and in the New Testament is love defined as keeping the law. In Romans chapter 13 we read: “8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Then in 1 John chapter 5: “3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”

But we see Solomon’s intended meaning here is even more fully expressed in the Gospel of John, in the words of Christ in John chapter 14: “20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” So Solomon is right, that keeping the commandments of the law results in incorruption, and that brings us near to God.

As a digression, note that Solomon said nothing about the rituals and ordinances that the first century Judaeans relied upon so heavily for their perception of their own righteousness, and for which Christ had often chastised them as hypocrites. So it is evident once again that the author of Wisdom was certainly not a first century Judaean.

Now Solomon describes the result of a love for and a keeping of the commandments of God:

20 Therefore the desire of wisdom bringeth [or leads] to a kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is not built by the force of men, and therefore there must be something greater which brings it together. Loving God and keeping His commandments, a man must also love his brethren, and one cannot love one without the other. As we read in 1 John chapter 4: “ 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

Even though love for one’s neighbor is not explicit in the so-called Ten Commandments, which we would only call the ten primary commandments, as there are many others, the apostle James cited a passage found only in Leviticus chapter 19, and described it as the foremost law of God where he said in chapter 2 of his epistle: “8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.” Paul of Tarsus professed the same ideal in Galatians chapter 5: “14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Of course, a neighbor is not merely some random person who happens to be nearby. A neighbor must be of one’s own people, one’s kindred, as it is defined where that law appears in Leviticus chapter 19 and it says: “18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

As a digression, 6 times in this chapter the word translated as wisdom is from σοφία, which is the word personified by later Greeks as the goddess of wisdom. But the wisdom which they imagined did not come from Yahweh. Perhaps they copied the concept from Solomon. But once, in verse 15, φρόνησις was translated as wisdom, and that word may have been rendered as understanding instead. It appears several other times in earlier chapters of this work where it is also rendered as wisdom.

As another digression, as we had discussed at length in Part 2 of our commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon, titled The Introduction of Wisdom, verses 17 through 20 of this chapter are an example of a grammatical construct called a sorites, which is said to be typical of Hellenistic period Greek. In that discussion, we saw that other, although shorter, examples of such a construction are found in the books of the prophets, and along with other arguments, I hope to have already shown that the charge that such is proof of a Hellenistic period for the authorship of Wisdom is false. It is actually more of a slander than a charge.

Now, while Solomon will change the subject slightly in the verses which end the chapter, he gives his ultimate warning concerning Wisdom to the future kings of Israel:

21 If your delight be then in thrones and sceptres, O ye kings of the people, honour wisdom, that ye may reign for evermore.

The desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom. Not that every man would rule, but that in that manner the Kingdom of Heaven would be manifested upon earth: when men love one another, and their rulers love the people over whom they rule. That is the same message of Christ in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, which His apostles had each echoed in their own way. This aspect of the purpose and plan of God is not explicit in the any of other Scriptures of the Old Testament, and therefore Solomon, the author of this Book of Wisdom, is a prophet of the Gospel of the Kingdom. So here he instructs the future kings of Israel in that same wisdom.

However at the same time, as we have also said here earlier, the collective children of Israel were themselves to be kings and priests over the earth, and we read in Revelation chapter 1: “4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” So this book of wisdom is not only for the wisdom of Kings, but of every man in Israel who seeks to rule with Christ.

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