Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Wisdom, the Son of God: A Reflection on the Book of Wisdom, chapter 9

I've been reading through the Deutero-canon lately. Some people refer to these books as the "Apocrypha." One such book is the Wisdom of Solomon or Wisdom for short. The theme of the book is the greatness of wisdom. There is one passage (chapter 9) where the author prays for wisdom explicitly. The passage offers a wonderful template for ways we can beseech God for wisdom.

It begins with a reflection on the character of God.

O God of my ancestors and Lord of mercy,
who have made all things by your word,
2 and by your wisdom have formed humankind
to have dominion over the creatures you have made,
3 and rule the world in holiness and righteousness,
and pronounce judgment in uprightness of soul,
Next, the prayer moves on the reflect on humanity and our need for wisdom.
4 give me the wisdom that sits by your throne,
and do not reject me from among your servants.
5 For I am your servant the son of your serving girl,
a man who is weak and short-lived,
with little understanding of judgment and laws;
6 for even one who is perfect among human beings
will be regarded as nothing without the wisdom that comes from you.
Why do we need wisdom in the first place? The author says he needs wisdom because he has been called to a duty too large for him to accomplish without wisdom. This hearkens back to 2 Chronicles 1:10 where Solomon prays, "Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?"
7 You have chosen me to be king of your people
and to be judge over your sons and daughters.
8 You have given command to build a temple on your holy mountain,
and an altar in the city of your habitation,
a copy of the holy tent that you prepared from the beginning.
We all have a duty to serve Christ faithfully and to make disciples of all nations. To do this well, we must beseech God for wisdom.

As a priest, I feel the need for wisdom daily. A great task is set before me to pastor my flock, faithfully preach and teach the scriptures, all while working out my own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). I need wisdom to guide me in my walk before God.

Next, the author speaks of Wisdom as a person. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ, we know there is an intimate connection between wisdom and God the Son. Paul writes to the Corinthians that the second person of the Trinity, the incarnate Jesus Christ, is the Wisdom of God: "we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:23-24, italics mine). Let us put on Christological glasses that will assist us to see Jesus in the next few verses.
9 With you is wisdom, she who knows your works
and was present when you made the world;
she understands what is pleasing in your sight
and what is right according to your commandments.
10 Send her forth from the holy heavens,
and from the throne of your glory send her,
that she may labor at my side,
and that I may learn what is pleasing to you.
11 For she knows and understands all things,
and she will guide me wisely in my actions
and guard me with her glory.
Because Jesus is the Wisdom of God, it stands to reason that if we are not united to Christ through his Holy Spirit, we cannot know the Father. But for those who are united to Christ and have his Spirit working within them, they have the Wisdom of God enlightening them. Because Christians are united to Christ by faith and walk according to his counsel, we know what is acceptable and pleasing to God because we have the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ, guiding our actions.
12 Then my works will be acceptable,
and I shall judge your people justly,
and shall be worthy of the throne of my father.
13 For who can learn the counsel of God?
Or who can discern what the Lord wills?
14 For the reasoning of mortals is worthless,
and our designs are likely to fail;
15 for a perishable body weighs down the soul,
and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind.
16 We can hardly guess at what is on earth,
and what is at hand we find with labor;
but who has traced out what is in the heavens?
17 Who has learned your counsel,
unless you have given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
18 And thus the paths of those on earth were set right,
and people were taught what pleases you,
and were saved by wisdom.
Wisdom chapter 9 offers a wonderful reflection on the Wisdom of God, who is Christ the Lord. James  writes in the New Testament, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5). Because I need wisdom, I've adapted this chapter to be a personal prayer that I offer to God in my own life. I commend you to do the same!

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