Wisdom 5

Chapter 5

1 Then will the righteous man stand with great confidence
in the presence of his oppressors
and those who derided his sufferings.
2 On beholding him, his oppressors will be seized with terrible dread
and will be amazed at his unexpected deliverance.
3 With remorse they will speak to one another,
and groaning in distress of spirit they will say:
4 “This is the one whom we once mocked
and made a target of our insults, fools that we were.
We regarded his way of life as madness
and his end as dishonorable.
5 Why is he now reckoned among the children of God,
sharing the lot of the saints?
6 Clearly we have been the ones who have strayed from the way of truth,
and the light of justice has not shone for us
or the sun risen upon us.
7 We had our fill of traversing the paths of lawlessness and ruin
and wandered across trackless deserts,
but of the way of the Lord we have been ignorant.
8 Of what avail has arrogance been to us?
What advantage have we received from our vaunted wealth?
9 “All these things have passed like a shadow,
much like a fleeting notice;
10 [a]like a ship that sails through the surging waters
of whose passage—once it has passed by—no trace can be found,
no wake from its keel in the waves;
11 or like a bird that flies through the air
and no sign of its passage is left,
for the light air, whipped by the beat of its pinions
and cleft by the force of its speed,
is traversed by the flapping wings,
and afterward there is no sign of its passage;
12 or as when an arrow is shot at a target,
the air is parted but immediately comes together again,
and no evidence remains of its passage;
13 so we also, as soon as we were born, ceased to be
and had not a trace of virtue to exhibit
but were consumed in our wickedness.”[b]
14 The hope of the godless is like chaff carried on the wind,
and like sea spray swept before a storm;
it is dissipated like smoke confronted by the wind,
and it passes away like the memory of a guest who stays but a single day.
15 But the righteous live forever,
and their recompense is with the Lord;[c]
the Most High provides for them.
16 Therefore, they will receive a glorious crown
and a splendid diadem from the hand of the Lord.
For he will shelter them with his right hand
and shield them with his arm.
17 He will take zeal as his armor
and arm all creation to repulse his foes.[d]
18 He will put on justice as a breastplate,
and wear an infallible judgment as a helmet.
19 He will take invincible holiness as a shield
20 and sharpen unrelenting wrath for a sword,[e]
and the whole world will unite with him to fight against the reckless.
21 Shafts of his lightning, accurately aimed, will fly forth,
hurtling from the clouds as from a well-drawn bow toward their target,
22 while the hailstones of his wrath will be hurled as from a sling.
The waters of the sea will rage against them,
and the rivers will relentlessly engulf them.
23 A mighty wind will rise against them
and will winnow them like a tempest.
Lawlessness will make the whole earth a wasteland,
and evildoing will overthrow the thrones of the mighty.


  1. Wisdom 5:10 Some of the same images used here are found in Job 9:25-26; Prov 30:19.
  2. Wisdom 5:13 After this verse the Vulgate adds the words: “This is what the sinners say in hell” as verse 14, necessitating a change in the enumeration of the rest of the verses in the chapter.
  3. Wisdom 5:15 Their recompense is with the Lord: for he is their portion (see Pss 16:5-6; 73:26; see also Wis 3:14).
  4. Wisdom 5:17 God’s offensive and defensive weapons are a classic theme in the imagery of the judgment (see Ps 17:14-15; Isa 59:17). Paul applies them to the Christian’s battle against the devil (Eph 6:13-17).
  5. Wisdom 5:20 Sword [of God]: see Isa 49:2; Ezek 21:8-10; Heb 4:12; Rev 1:16; 19:15.

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