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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 15: The Prayer for Wisdom
Throughout the first eight chapters of the Wisdom of Solomon we have seen several changes of subject. First, Solomon introduced wisdom as the Remedy for Sin and Death, and then he contrasted the attitudes and behavior of impious, or ungodly, men to the attitudes and behavior of the righteous, while concluding that the righteous man stands as a barrier to the designs of the ungodly, and as a result the ungodly would persecute and even seek to destroy the righteous. Doing this, we believe that Solomon was also prophesying a Portrait of the Messiah. Then Solomon offered reassurance to the righteous, as their fate is In the Hand of God while impious men shall inevitably suffer for their foolishness. So after describing the punishments of Everlasting Contempt which await the impious and contrasting them with The Reward of the Righteous, Solomon began to present the wisdom which comes from God in a way that it should appeal to men, and especially to kings, as he being a king was addressing the future kings of Israel.
So Solomon set out to describe The Wisdom of Kings, The Origin of Wisdom and The Beauty of Wisdom, portraying Wisdom as a woman whose allures should cause men to pursue her and desire her for themselves. Then finally, in Wisdom chapter 8, describing The Rewards of Wisdom, Solomon reflects back on his youth to the time when he had first prayed for wisdom, exhorting God for His wisdom. Therefore as we continue our commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon with chapter 9, which begins with a very lengthy prayer, we must note that the author presents the prayer as the very prayer which Solomon had made in his youth, when upon becoming king of Israel he had sought wisdom rather than his own worldly magnification.
To us it is not an extraordinary phenomenon, that the Wisdom of Solomon was considered a part of the Christian Scriptures by the earliest Christians. The book is listed in the canon found in the Muratorian fragment, which dates to about 170 AD, and we are confident that it certainly does belong in our canon, where we would place it alongside Ecclesiastes. It expresses things that are later revealed in the New Testament Scriptures, which are not so obvious in the Old Testament. It also serves to explain statements which are found in the New Testament Scriptures that are not direct quotations from the Old Testament, in a manner that reveals their continuity with the Old Testament.
But to us, it is also not extraordinary that Christians of later periods have ultimately rejected the Wisdom of Solomon. While its status as canon was often disputed by Roman churchmen, even as early as the late 4th century, the Roman and later Greek Orthodox churches had nevertheless retained the book. But modern Protestants have relegated it to apocryphal status, if they have not rejected it entirely. However in any event, even if they retained the book, the Wisdom of Solomon was evidently never taught in any of the universal churches. If they had truly learned the wisdom of Solomon, they would not have been universal.
This is evident where Solomon, introducing this prayer which we are about to read, had also explained that there were prerequisites to the acquisition of wisdom from God. While Solomon expressed the understanding that he had no entitlement to wisdom, and that he would not attain it if it were not granted to him by God, he nevertheless made the assertions concerning himself, that he was good, and that he was born into an undefiled body. This is found in verses 19 and 20 of Wisdom chapter 8, which we would translate to read: “For I was a child of good natural disposition of spirit and I obtained good. 20 But moreover, being good I came into an undefiled body.” Solomon made these assertions in a manner that suggests that by them he was worthy of the wisdom of God, if God chose to grant him wisdom, because he had these attributes. Using such language he also makes an indirect assertion that he is a specimen of the original creation of God, which God Himself had called “good”. Then even with that, he admitted that he could not attain wisdom without temperance, or self-control, which was also a gift from God.
Solomon revealed what he means here by an undefiled body in Wisdom chapter 3, where he had explained what it is that is defiled and he said: “10 But the ungodly shall be punished according to their own imaginations, which have neglected the righteous, and forsaken the Lord.” The ungodly, which are the impious among the people, neglect the righteous by forsaking them, by turning their backs on their own people as well as their God. This becomes evident as Solomon continued and said: “11 For whoso despiseth wisdom and nurture, he is miserable, and their hope is vain, their labours unfruitful, and their works unprofitable: 12 Their wives are foolish, and their children wicked: 13 Their offspring is cursed. Wherefore blessed is the barren that is undefiled, which hath not known the sinful bed: she shall have fruit in the visitation of souls.” Knowing a sinful bed and having children is a description of the act of fornication with women who are foolish, women of other races. The women themselves are not necessarily fools, but they are foolish choices for a man to take to wife. It is folly to commit fornication, and the children are wicked and cursed because they are bastards. A bastard could never attain the wisdom of God, as Solomon professed at the very end of Wisdom chapter 7 that “vice shall not prevail against wisdom.” Therefore only the true-born children of God could ever hope to receive the wisdom of God.
Now, we have said that here in Wisdom, Solomon expresses things that are not so obvious in the Old Testament. Here in Wisdom these admonitions against race-mixing are clearly expressed, once one gives attention to his words. In the law there are prohibitions against the Israelites mingling with certain people, but because they are not general to all other races, as most other races are not even mentioned, modern so-called pastors can talk their way around them, ignoring the definition of fornication as it is provided by Scripture and imagining it to mean anything but race-mixing. Yes prostitution is a form of fornication, and so is sodomy and other formerly illicit sexual activities. But both the apostles Jude and Paul of Tarsus used the word in a context that only describes race-mixing, the pursuit of different flesh. Once that is understood, the reason why Yahshua Christ had warned that He would kill the children of fornicators, in Revelation chapter 2, becomes fully evident.
In Proverbs chapter 5, Solomon also warns against such fornication, but in a way which is not as obvious. Here, in order to show that in his book of Proverbs we see the same instruction which is presented here in Wisdom, we shall present and briefly discuss that chapter of Proverbs: “1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: 2 That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.” In Wisdom we see the wisdom of a king, but in Proverbs we see wisdom imparted from a father to a son, in spite of the fact that the father in this instance was a king. Now this is wisdom, where the father continues and says: “3 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: 4 But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. 6 Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.” This admonition is profound and goes far beyond the mere consequences of sin, as the sin is evidently never forgiven. The non-Adamic races do not have the spirit of Yahweh God, and therefore they have no share in the promises of eternal life which were made to the children of Adam, or especially to the children of Israel. So such a woman cannot escape hell because she herself is a sin. So for that reason, the lesson becomes a warning and a demand made by the father: “7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. 8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: 9 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: 10 Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; 11 And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, 12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; 13 And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! 14 I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.” This description portrays those same ungodly men who “despiseth wisdom and nurture” and therefore take to themselves foolish wives and sire wicked bastards in sinful beds, as Solomon had described them in Wisdom chapter 3.
Continuing with Proverbs chapter 5, there is a further but encouraging admonition: “15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. 16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee. 18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” It was customary for families to betroth their daughters to sons chosen from among families of their own tribe when they were young. So the wife of one’s youth would be a young woman of one’s own kindred. But while having multiple wives is not godly, it was not prohibited, therefore a second wife was not necessarily a “strange woman”. Rather, the Hebrew words for strange in this chapter of Proverbs are zuwr (Strong’s # 2114), which is someone who is foreign, and nokriy (Strong’s # 5237), which is someone who is generally not recognizable.
As for one’s own cistern, which in this context refers to one’s own tribe and kindred, in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah the Word of Yahweh used a similar expression to describe the results of such race-mixing, in Jeremiah chapter 2 where we read “13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” This is not merely referring to some religious transgression, as the Word of Yahweh laments further on in the chapter: “18 And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?” The children of Israel were drinking waters out of cisterns other than their own, allegorical language which describes their mingling with the people of those other nations. Then a little later, we read “21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? 22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.” So we see in the references to corrupted seed and a sin which cannot be washed from one’s face that the admonition against race-mixing and the punishment which comes as a consequence is quite clear.
In Proverbs chapter 5, Solomon continued in that same manner: “20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? 21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. 22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. 23 He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” We saw this same warning in the closing verses of Wisdom chapter 3, where it said: “16 As for the children of adulterers, they shall not come to their perfection, and the seed of an unrighteous bed shall be rooted out. 17 For though they live long, yet shall they be nothing regarded: and their last age shall be without honour. 18 Or, if they die quickly, they have no hope, neither comfort in the day of trial. 19 For horrible is the end of the unrighteous generation or race.” So we see that in very different ways, Wisdom certainly is teaching the same lessons found in Proverbs, and while the instruction is presented from different perspectives, the Wisdom of God is portrayed in a manner that also assures us that God is unfailing, that His wisdom does not waver or change. In the end, the wisdom of God shall indeed prevail.
When we left off at the end of chapter 8 of Wisdom, the last verse ended mid-sentence, as Solomon described his having prayed for wisdom, and was about to begin reciting his prayer, where the medieval scribes who designated the chapter divisions cut the sentence and chapter off with the words “and I said from my whole heart…” We can probably credit the 13th century English cleric Stephen Langton, who was once the archbishop of Canterbury, with the location of the chapter break. So now as we begin chapter 9, this is the beginning of what Solomon said. However it is not a short prayer. Rather, it is the substance of the entire balance of Wisdom, which is the last eleven chapters of the book. Throughout the rest of the book the prayer continues as Solomon continues to address Yahweh God directly, in the second person, speaking to Him even when he also frequently mentions Him in the third person as a subject of various portions of the discourse within his prayer. Praying in this manner, he both praises God and implores wisdom from Him at the same time.
Whether we believe that the prayer is the exact one which Solomon had made as a youth is immaterial, since here he uses the occasion to employ this prayer as a means of teaching, and the lesson is the most important aspect. He is still exhorting the future kings of Israel which he had begun to address in chapter 6 of Wisdom. Here the prayer certainly is represented as what Solomon had prayed. Thus he begins by petitioning Yahweh his God:
Wisdom 9:1 O God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word,
The first creature of that word was Christ Himself in the announcement “Let there be light”, before the sun, moon and stars were created. There He is the Light come into the world as He is described in the gospel of John.
For us, this first verse evokes the words of Paul of Tarsus concerning Yahshua Christ in Colossians chapter 1: “14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Christ, being the Word made Flesh, as well as the Light come into the world, is indeed Yahweh God incarnate and the Word which had made all things, as well as the embodiment of the wisdom of God.
Now we shall address another Christian Identity heresy once we read verse 2:
2 And ordained man through thy wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which thou hast made,
The word translated as ordained is from the verb κατασκευάζω, which means to prepare or equip. We would translate this verse to read:
And with Your wisdom [καὶ τῇ σοφίᾳ σου] you have prepared man [κατασκευάσας ἄνθρωπον] that he may be master [ἵνα δεσπόζῃ] of the creatures having been produced by You [τῶν ὑπὸ σοῦ γενομένων κτισμάτων].
The Adamic man which was created in Genesis chapter 1 was given dominion over all of the other creatures which Yahweh God had created. So we read in Genesis chapter 1: “26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
There are some Identity Christians who still cling to the heresies of a 6th and 8th day creation, that somehow the Adam of Genesis chapter 2 as a separate creation from the Adamic man of Genesis chapter 1 who was created to be the pinnacle of the creation of God. So dominion was given to Adam in Genesis chapter 1, and not in Genesis chapter 2, where Solomon himself looks back to chapter 1 for the origin of his kind, having called himself “good”, and he certainly descended from the Adam of Genesis chapter 2. This once again serves to show that there was only 1 creation of Adam, and it is described in one manner in Genesis chapter 1, and in another manner in chapter 2. However they are all one and the same race: the Adamic race from which the great civilizations of antiquity and the White nations of modern Europe have all descended.
Now Solomon speaks further of the commission of Adam, who was to have dominion over all creation:
3 And order the world according to equity and righteousness, and execute judgment with an upright heart:
The word for equity is ὁσιότης, which is holiness or piety. It is derived from ὅσιος, which, according to Liddell & Scott, describes what is sanctioned or allowed by the law of God. The word for heart is ψυχή, which is more literally spirit, although not in the same sense as πνεῦμα. In this case, ψυχή, which often refers to the life, seems to refer to the character of a man.
As we shall see later in Wisdom, the world of Solomon was only the world of the children of Israel as it was arranged under the laws of Yahweh their God. The world was not the planet and everything in it, and therefore we often translate the word as society, which also accords with the Greek definition of the word κόσμος, and which would also be fitting here. Solomon, having become the king of Israel, now prays that he may fulfill Adam’s commission:
4 Give me wisdom, that sitteth by thy throne; and reject me not from among thy children:
Notice that Solomon begs for that wisdom which sits by the throne of God, and later in the prayer continues to depict wisdom as a woman, so here he is depicting Wisdom as a queen. However the intention is the maintenace of the assertion that the wisdom which he seeks is the wisdom which comes from God. Just as a man and his wife become one flesh, Solomon depicts wisdom as the wife of God, as being one with Him. The word translated as reject here is ἀποδοκιμάζω, and it more fully describes something that is rejected as being unfit upon its having been scrutinized. Paul used the same word in reference to Esau in Hebrews chapter 12, as he was rejected for the inheritance, because he was a “profane man and a fornicator”, referring to Esau’s having race-mixed by taking wives of the Canaanites.
Now Solomon displays humility by noting the frailty of human flesh and also his own ignorance:
5 For I thy servant and son of thine handmaid am a feeble person [literally a weak man], and of a short time, and too young for the understanding of judgment and laws.
Even if Solomon had written this many years after the fact, here he depicted himself as a young man, and as he had first come to be king when he made this prayer. Continuing, he speaks of the vanity of fleshly human perfection if it lacks the wisdom of God:
6 For though a man be never so perfect among the children of men, yet if thy wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded.
Here Solomon is not describing himself as being perfect, and while that may not have been the thought of the translators, the translation may be easily misconstrued. Rather, we would translate the verse, and especially the opening clause, more literally to read:
For even if anyone could be [κἂν γάρ τις ᾖ] perfect [τέλειος] among the sons of men [ἐν υἱοῖς ἀνθρώπων] the wisdom from You being absent [τῆς ἀπὸ σοῦ σοφίας ἀπούσης] he shall be accounted for nothing [εἰς οὐδὲν λογισθήσεται].
Once it is translated correctly, the meaning is obvious: no man can amount to anything without the wisdom of God. Now Solomon explains why he desires such wisdom, because he has been given the responsibility of a king, and also the responsibility of building the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem:
7 Thou hast chosen me to be a king of thy people, and a judge of thy sons and daughters:
Solomon was one of the younger sons of David, and according to custom it was not likely that he would be king. But in spite of the fact that he was born of Bathsheba, the wife which David had procured surreptitiously through his betrayal of Uriah, Solomon was chosen to be king. So we read in 2 Samuel chapter 12, after David and Bathsheba had lost their first child on account of their sin, “24 And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him. 25 And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.” The name Jedidiah means beloved of Yahweh.
Later, as we read in 1 Kings chapter 1, an elder son of David, Adonijah, attempted to succeed him even before he died, and we read: “10 But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not. 11 Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not? 12 Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon. 13 Go and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign?”
As it is described in the subsequent verses, on account of that David had Solomon anointed king at that time, evidently so that there would be no struggle for succession when he died. But Adonijah did attempt to take the throne after David died, after Solomon had already forgiven him once, and for that Solomon had him put to death, as it is described in 1 Kings chapter 2. From that time, Solomon’s rule was apparently unchallenged, although David had several other sons older than him. By the time Solomon first became king, at least three of David’s older sons are dead: Amnon, Absalom and then Adonijah, while three others are not mentioned in the Old Testament other than the records of their births: Daniel, Shephatiah and Ithream. In 2 Samuel 3:2 Daniel is called Chileab instead.
In 1 Kings chapter 2, Adonijah is recorded as having expressed confidence that it was his privilege to be king after David, where he said to Bathsheba: “Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's: for it was his from the LORD.” But another son, Daniel, or Chileab, was older and his death is not recorded, at least in the extant records. But even in spite of that profession, that Solomon was king by the will of Yahweh, Adonijah had tried once more to usurp him, and lost his life for it. Later, in Jerusalem, it is recorded in 1 Chronicles chapter 3 that David had many other sons born to him after Solomon. One of them, Nathan, a brother of Solomon who is listed in the genealogies of Christ in Luke 3:31, was also born to Bathsheba.
Now Solomon continues by describing the task which David his father had left him upon his becoming king:
8 Thou hast commanded me [literally only said to me] to build a temple upon thy holy mount, and an altar in the city wherein thou dwellest, a resemblance of the holy tabernacle, which thou hast prepared from the beginning.
Of course, at that time Jerusalem was esteemed to be the city where God had dwelt. But ultimately, Christ being the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, perhaps here Solomon seems to have been aware that the temple in Jerusalem was a part of the plan of Yahweh for man in that same manner: “from the beginning”.
The phrase “a resemblance of the holy tabernacle” would more properly be translated “an imitation altar [θυσιαστήριον μίμημα] of a holy tabernacle [σκηνῆς ἁγίας]”. The words seem to reveal Solomon’s knowledge that the altar at the temple in Jerusalem could never remove sin or reconcile man to God by itself, but only served as a representation of something greater. The words do not reflect an atitude that would be typical of a Hellenistic Jew, as this book of Wisdom is commonly attributed. Of course, we shall continue to contend with such an attribution.
But by saying “from the beginning”, perhaps Solomon was really only referring to the plan which Yahweh had revealed from the time of the Exodus, as we read in 1 Kings chapter 8: “16 Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel. 17 And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel. 18 And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart. 19 Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.” Those words, when they were spoken, imply that none of the sons born to David in Hebron would be king after him,since David could not have intended to build the temple in Jerusalem until he took Jerusalem from the Jebusites, after those sons were born (cf 2 Samuel chapters 3 and 5). Of course, Solomon was that son. Now he continues by extolling God for the magnificence of His plan:
9 And wisdom was with thee: which knoweth thy works, and was present when thou madest the world, and knew what was acceptable [or pleasing] in thy sight, and right [or upright] in thy commandments.
So aside from the knowledge of the works of God, wisdom is the knowledge of what is acceptable to God, or what pleases Him, and the knowledge to make honest interpretations of the commandments of God. Now once again, Solomon portrays wisdom as a woman:
10 O send her out of thy holy heavens, and from the throne of thy glory, that being present she may labour with me, that I may know what is pleasing unto thee.
The translation missed two words which follow the word for glory, so that the clause which follows should have been translated “send her that being present with me she may labour”. In the Greek text, the request to send Wisdom is repeated twice in this verse, using two different Greek verbs.
Now, continuing his explanation as to why he needs Wisdom:
11 For she knoweth and understandeth all things, and she shall lead me soberly in my doings, and preserve me in her power.
The word translated as power is δόξα, which is literally a notion, opinion or estimation, and for that reason may also be translated as credit, honour or glory, as it usually is in the King James Version. The word soberly is from σώφρων, which is discretion, and has nothing to do with drunkeness, as many abstinent men have nevertheless lacked discretion. It literally means to be of a sound mind, and while being drunken one is not of sound mind, men that are sober are also often not of sound mind. We discussed the word at length from another perspective at Wisdom 8:7, in relation to another related word found there, σωφροσύνη, where it was translated as temperance.
In Ecclesiastes chapter 1 Solomon had professed: “13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.” Here, if he is granted that wisdom, Solomon expresses an expectation:
12 So shall my works be acceptable, and then shall I judge thy people righteously, and be worthy to sit in my father's seat [literally throne].
We read in the 37th Psalm, a Psalm of David: “30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. 31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Then again, from the 72nd Psalm, which is titled For Solomon in both the King James Version and the Septuagint, so it was written by David for Solomon, as the final verse also reveals that David was the author, here we shall read the opening verses: “1 Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son. 2 He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. 3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. 4 He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. 5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. 6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. 7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.” So if a king governs with wisdom, which is by the law of Yahweh his God, the righteous among his people flourish, and they continue to serve and reverence their God. Now Solomon continues with a profession which is later found in the prophets and in the epistles of Paul:
13 For what man is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of the Lord is?
In the words of Paul of Tarsus we read in Romans chapter 11: “33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?”
The common perception in reference to that passage in Paul is that he is citing Isaiah 40:13 where we read: “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?” But there is a statement which is even more similar in meaning to what Paul had written, which is found in Jeremiah 23:18: “For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?”
The meaning of Paul’s words in Romans is closer to what is found in Jeremiah than the meaning of the statement in Isaiah. However it is just as close in meaning to what is found in Wisdom here. Men cannot know the counsel of God or what His will is, or at least, men cannot know it beforehand. Men can only hope to understand and acknowledge it after the fact. Often in the Old Testament, once the judgment of God had passed men understood that what happened had come form God.
In this respect, Paul did make a more direct citation of Isaiah 40:13 in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 where he wrote “16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?” However Paul then asserted “But we have the mind of Christ.” Having the mind of Christ, is hearing and accepting the gospel and having the Scriptures in both Old and New Testaments, is the closest we can come to know the will of God, and according to Paul, Jeremiah and Solomon here in Wisdom, no man can claim to know better.
Now Solomon makes another reference to the human frailty of man:
14 For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices [or intentions] are but uncertain [or unsafe]. 15 For the corruptible body presseth down [or oppresses] the soul, and the earthy tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things.
The phrase “that muses upon many things” is taken from one Greek word, πολύφροντις, which means full of thoughts. We would translate that last clause to say “and the earthy tabernacle weighs down a mind full of thoughts.” Apparently, Solomon is saying that the thoughts of the mind are loftier than the demands of the earthly body, so the body inhibits the mind. The phrase is a parallelism with what preceded it, that the corruptible body oppresses the soul, and that certainly helps to establish our conclusion as to its meaning.
Therefore Solomon’s words here also evoke the words of Paul of Tarsus in his epistle to the Romans. In Romans chapter 7 Paul gave a lengthy dissertation on the corruptive influence of fleshly desires, the difficulty Christians have overcoming them, and how those influences put the earthly body in opposition to the Spirit of God in man and the commandments in the law. So for example, where Solomon said here in verse 15 that the corruptible body oppresses the soul, Paul had written in Romans chapter 7 “14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.”
Where Solomon wrote that “the earthy tabernacle weighs down a mind full of thoughts”, we read in that same dissertation in Romans 7 where Paul said “22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Then where Solomon had said in verse 14 that “the thoughts of mortal men are miserable”, he agrees with Paul’s conclusion in Romans chapter 7 where he had exclaimed: “24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Of course, only Christ can be that savior.
So while Paul’s explanation of the conflict which exists between the lusts of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind, if indeed a man seeks to be righteous in the first place, is much longer than that of Solomon’s here, they are both explaining the same phenomenon with very similar terms. While there are other places where I am persuaded that Wisdom served as inspiration for some of the things which Paul had later written in his epistles, this is one of the more significant of them.
Another passage in Paul’s epistles which is evoked here in Wisdom is found in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, where speaking of the afflictions of this life, Paul wrote once again in relation to body and spirit: “1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”
Now Solomon continues to lament the frailty of man:
16 And hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth, and with labour do we find the things that are before us: but the things that are in heaven who hath searched out?
We have already cited Isaiah 40:13 where it asks “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?” But Solomon’s words here also evoke the verse before that, where we read in Isaiah 40:12: “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” Speaking in relation to the judgment of God, we should understand why it is important to seek His wisdom and understand His commandments, because that is the only way by which men can please Him.
The apostle James referred to the wisdom of the Gospel as the wisdom that is from above, and compares it to the folly of fleshly wisdom, in chapter 3 of his epistle: “13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. [Conversation is conduct, and good conduct is to obey the commandments of God.] 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” As we have also seen Solomon explain, towards the end of Wisdom chapter 6, the wisdom which is from God will have no fellowship with men who have envy.
Now Solomon repeats again what he said in verse 13, but expands on the possibility if God Himself is the source of wosdom, as Solomon is indeed praying for wisdom from God:
17 And thy counsel who hath known, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy Spirit from above?
Once again, Solomon considers wisdom to be nothing but the counsel, or will, of God, and that is the wisdom he seeks so that he may please God and understand His commandments, as he already explained in verse 9 of this chapter.
James referred to the “wisdom that is from above” and went on to describe the fruits, or results, of that wisdom in those who have it. These are the same fruits of the spirit of which Paul had also spoken, in Galatians chapter 5, once again referring to the struggle Christians also have with fleshly desires, where he said “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Earlier in his epistle, in chapter 1, James said “17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
In John chapter 1, the apostle attested that Yahshua Christ is the Light Come into the World. Then in John chapter 3, he recorded the words of John the Baptist in reference to Christ where he said, in part: “31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.” So Paul of Tarsus, in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, explained that Christ is the Wisdom of God where he wrote “30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Then where Solomon asked here “17 And thy counsel who hath known, except thou give wisdom”, Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 1, speaking of of God in relation to Christ: “8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” Then a little further on in the same chapter: “17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places…”
So while Solomon prayed for wisdom from heaven, now we see that Christ is indeed the embodiment of that wisdom, and the will of God is revealed through Him. So Paul exclaimed, as we have already cited, that “We have the mind of Christ”, since we have His word in the Gospel, and through that we can understand the Word of God in the Old Testament, He being that Word made flesh. So if we seek wisdom today, we must begin with the gospel of Christ.
Concluding chapter 9, Solomon begins to refer to the events of the Exodus, which will actually become a significant subject of the balance of this work:
18 For so the ways of them which lived on the earth were reformed, and men were taught the things that are pleasing unto thee, and were saved through wisdom.
Here Solomon makes a reference to the giving of the law at Sinai, and the creation of a “new heavens and a new earth” in the form of the organization of the children of Israel into the kingdom of God. That meaning of the term is found in Isaiah, after all of the wonderful promises made by God concerning the prophesied reconciliation of Israel where we read in Isaiah chapter 65: “17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.” That new heavens and new earth came into existence as the children of Israel were resettled, reorganized in Europe, and reconciled to God in Christ, whereby they became the nations known collectively as Christendom.
With that being said, we see that Solomon did indeed refer to the giving of the law and the organization of Israel into a kingdom as the reforming of “them which lived upon the earth”, as in relation to those same things, he wrote later in Wisdom chapter 19: “6 For the whole creature [or creation] in his proper kind was fashioned again anew, serving the peculiar commandments that were given unto them, that thy children might be kept without hurt.” The law containing what is pleasing to God, once man received and accepted the law a reformation of the earth was initiated. Those laws remain the basis for our morality to this very day, and that also proves the truth of God as Solomon expresses it here. But the devil, world Jewry, is looking to eradicate God’s law just as well as they sought to eradicate this book of Wisdom.