Invitation To Seek Wisdom[a]
Seek God, Not Death
1 Love justice,[b] you who govern the earth,
turn your minds to the Lord in a righteous way,
and seek him with an upright heart.
2 For he will be found by those who do not put him to the test,
and he will reveal himself to those who do not cease to have confidence in him.
3 Perverse thoughts separate a man from God,
and when his power is put to the test, it reproaches the foolish.
4 Wisdom refuses to enter a soul devoted to evil
or to dwell in a body indebted to sin.
5 For the holy spirit of discipline[c] shuns deceit,
shrinks away from foolish discourse,
and is ashamed at the approach of injustice.
6 Wisdom is a spirit filled with kindness,
but it will not excuse the guilt incurred by the blasphemer for his words,
since God is the witness of his innermost self,[d]
accurately observing his heart
and listening to every word of his mouth.
7 For the spirit of the Lord fills the world,
and that which holds all things together is well aware of everything that is said.[e]
8 Therefore, no one who utters wicked thoughts will escape detection,
nor will justice, in its chastisement, pass him by.
9 For the schemes of the wicked man will be investigated,
and the sound of his words will reach the Lord
to convict him of his transgressions,
10 because a jealous ear listens to everything,
and no sound of grumbling remains secret.
11 Therefore, beware of futile grumbling
and restrain your tongue from calumny,[f]
for even something said in secret has repercussions,
and a lying mouth destroys the soul.
12 Do not invite death by a life prone to error,
nor incur destruction by the works of your hands.
13 For God did not make death,
nor does he delight in the death of the living.
14 He created all things so that they might have existence,
and the creatures of the world engender life.
There is no deadly poison in any of them,
and the domain of the netherworld[g] is not on the earth,
15 for righteousness is immortal.[h]
Wisdom or the Meaning of Our Destiny as Human Beings[i]
The Covenant with Death
Born by Chance and Destined for Oblivion?[j]
16 But the godless by their words and deeds summoned death,
regarded it as a friend, and longed for it.
They made a covenant with it
since they deserve to be in its company.[k]
- Wisdom 1:1 Inasmuch as he wishes to place this Book under the authority of Solomon, the author directs the first discourse to those who govern the earth (v. 1), the powerful of this world. In fact, however, the invitation is addressed to every believer exposed to the seduction of the gods and doctrines proper to the culture of that age. Each is presented with a choice (and no one is exempt from it): God or death.
- Wisdom 1:1 The state of justice or righteous[ness] was defined as being in accord with the will of God as indicated in the law and the demands of conscience. Seek him: a recurring invitation in both the sages and the Prophets (see Pss 34:11; 45:7-8; 105:4; Prov 8:17; Isa 55:6; Jer 29:13). Jesus also taught that we should “seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mt 6:33).
- Wisdom 1:5 Holy spirit of discipline: Wisdom (called “discipline” here) was regarded as dispensed by a “holy spirit” (see Ps 51:13; Isa 63:10-11); the whole phrase seems to indicate the power of God that directs the life of human beings and of the universe. The reference is ultimately to the work of the Holy Spirit (see Jn 14:26).
- Wisdom 1:6 Innermost self: literally, “kidneys,” which were regarded as the center of human emotions and impulses (see Job 19:27; Pss 16:7; 73:21; Prov 23:16), while the “heart” was the center of intellect and will. These two words were often used together (translated as “mind and heart”) to indicate all of the inner forces of human beings (see Pss 7:10; 26:2; Jer 11:20; 17:10; 20:12; Rev 2:23).
- Wisdom 1:7 The Liturgy for Pentecost applies this verse to the Holy Spirit.
- Wisdom 1:11 Calumny: used here in the sense of criticism of God and his providence.
- Wisdom 1:14 Netherworld: this word signifies here more than simply the place where the dead are shut up without hope or future. Rather, it constitutes the hostile power of death, which seeks to disfigure the work of God. It represents the whole hideous weight of evil that fights against what God wills for the world and for human beings.
- Wisdom 1:15 The one who is righteous is assured of immortality. The Latin version adds: “but injustice acquires death.”
- Wisdom 1:16 In the terminology of the ancients, to speak of Wisdom is to seek to individualize the real destiny of human beings. Everyone desires to live and be happy; life and civilization offer possibilities and attractions, but so do illusion, error, and perversion. This first part of the Book (1:16—5:23) enables the Old Testament to advance in the reflection on the human condition, opening perspectives on eternity.
- Wisdom 1:16 The stage is now given to the blasphemer who sings the praises of nothingness. In order to avoid the responsibility of being a human being, he strives to prove the absurd, to destroy the value of life and sully the mystery of existence so that he will no longer have to be astounded and perhaps have to acknowledge a God who takes an interest in the destiny of human beings.
- Wisdom 1:16 Deserve to be in its company: literally, “deserve to belong to its portion.” In other words, the godless belong to death as Israel belongs to God (see Deut 32:9; 2 Mac 1:26; Zec 2:16) and as God belongs to those who are faithful to him (see Pss 16:5; 73:26; 142:6).