The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

My Notes Wisdom 5:1-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 6, 2012

Background~The first section of the Book of Wisdom has a five-fold concentric structure, i.e., written in the form of a reverse parallel:

A1) an exhortation to love justice for it is undying (1:1-15).

B1) the wicked reject judgment, justice and immortality, especially in their speech (1:16-2:24).

C) the hidden counsels of God in relation to suffering, childlessness, and an early death (3:1-4:19)

B2) Judgement of the wicked. Their lament (speech) concerning the effects their rejection of judgement, justice and immortality have brought (4:20-5:23).

A2) An exhortation to learn, honor and love wisdom, the basis of incorruptibility  (6:1-21).

Such a structure has a twofold purpose, to establish connections between the parallel sub-sections (A1 with A2, B1 with B2), but also to indicate that the entire section (1:1-6:21) is a unity. Today’s reading is taken from the B2 sub-section (4:20-5:23), and in my notes I’ll try to bring out some connections with other parts of the whole ((1:1-6:20); but especially with the B1 sub-section (1:16-2:24).

1 Then the righteous man will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who have afflicted him, and those who make light of his labors. (see 2 Thess 1:3-10)

Then. The word provides a connection with verse the last verse of chapter 4 which opens the B2 section from which our reading is taken. That verse (4:20) reads: They will come with dread when their sins are reckoned up, and their lawless deeds will convict them to their face.  The reference is to those who do not understand the hidden counsels of God in relation to things such as suffering, childlessness, and an early death, the subject of the C section in the outline above (Wis 3:1-4:19).

In contrast to the dread felt by the foolish for their sins and lawless deed (Wis 4:20), the righteous man will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who afflicted him, and those who make light of his labors (Wis 5:1). The realization of this fact will cause the just man’s oppressors even more dread and fear (see next verse).

 2 When they see him, they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at his unexpected salvation.

The reaction of the foolish is brought about by the sudden realization that their philosophy of “might makes right” has been in vain.  Their wisdom was expressed in these words: “Let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless” (Wis 2:11 the B1 section outlined above). The wisdom of God by which the just man conducts himself is abhorrent to those who hold such a philosophy, a philosophy which led to their afflicting the just: “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.” (Wis 2:12-15).

They will be amazed at his unexpected salvation. For these men by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away, and they made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his party (Wis 1:16). But, of course, this judgement of those who embraced God’s wisdom was rejected by those who embraced their own: for their wickedness blinded them, and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hope for the wages of holiness, nor discern the prize for blameless souls; for God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it. (Wis 2:21-24)

3 They will speak to one another in repentance, and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say,

Notice that their repentance is not spoken to God, rather they speak to one another, for the time or repentance has passed. Their anguish of spirit now contrasts with their previous self-exhortation: Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth. Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no flower of spring pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither. Let none of us fail to share in our revelry, everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment, because this is our portion, and this our lot. (Wis 2:6-9).

4 “This is the man whom we once held in derision and made a byword of reproach — we fools! We thought that his life was madness and that his end was without honor.

This is the man whom we once held in derision. See especially Wisdom 2:10-20.

5 Why has he been numbered among the sons of God? And why is his lot among the saints?

Why has he been numbered among the sons of God? The question indicates that the wisdom of God by which the just man lived-and which these wicked have rejected-is still hidden from them, even as they see the outcome of the just man’s way of life. They know that they have erred (Wis 5:6-13), but they give no indication as to why.  They know that they have been fools because of their thoughts regarding the just (Wis 5:4), but they give no indication of how they themselves should have lived and acted. To leave this life as a fool is to enter into eternity eternally foolish.

3 Responses to “My Notes Wisdom 5:1-5”

  1. […] of Advent (Extraordinary From) « Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Acts 14:5-18 My Notes Wisdom 5:1-5 […]

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