Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-20
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The Bible has changed in many ways, over the long history of its development. For this coming Sunday, the Revised Common Lectionary (which gives us suggested readings for each week of the church year) calls for readings from a book called The Wisdom of Solomon. Not very many of you are likely to have The Wisdom of Solomon in your Bible. It is one of several books that the Protestant Reformers in the 1500s decided were not as important as other books in the Old Testament for Christians to read. That’s why I am publishing these verses here.
Some of you try to keep up with reading each week’s Scripture lessons (as found on the SHARING LIFE page of your weekly newsletter). If you do, you find several different types of literature within the Bible: stories, lists, poems, laws and instructions, biographies, gospels, essays, sermons, letters, and other genres. This week’s reading from The Wisdom of Solomon may be used as a psalm, or simply as instruction. It is both !
I must tell, you, Solomon did not write this book which bears his name: King Solomon had died about 900 years before this was written. However, in ancient times it was an honorable practice to name a book after a respected person from history: ancient readers probably understood that this was not really written by King Solomon himself.
The Wisdom of Solomon is a peculiar book in the Old Testament. For one thing, while almost all of our Old Testament comes to us from the Hebrew language, this reading comes to us having originally been composed in Greek— as the New Testament books were. Also, while most of the Old Testament was composed hundreds of years before the time of Jesus, this week’s Old Testament lesson may have been first published during Jesus’ time. Another odd thing about the Wisdom of Solomon is that it is one of only a few Old Testament books that talk about eternal life or “immortality:” most Old Testament Scriptures regard the death of one’s body as final.
What this peculiar book tries to do is convince non-Jews that the Jewish faith was the wisest religion that one could choose. This is literature that was composed to persuade the reader to choose our God.
I pray you will study wisdom and be like the “wise bridesmaids” in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25. “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” The Bridegroom is coming to open the door so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
12 Wisdom is radiant and unfading,
and she is easily discerned by those who love her,
and is found by those who seek her.
13 She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
14 One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,
for she will be found sitting at the gate.
15 To fix one's thought on her is perfect understanding,
and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care,
16 because she goes about seeking those worthy of her,
and she graciously appears to them in their paths,
and meets them in every thought.
17 The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction,
and concern for instruction is love of her,
18 and love of her is the keeping of her laws,
and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality,
19 and immortality brings one near to God;
20 so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.