Wisdom 6

At the Source of Wisdom[a]

Seek and You Will Find

Chapter 6

A Rigorous Judgment Awaits the Mighty[b]

1 Listen, then, O kings, and try to comprehend;
learn, O judges of the whole earth.[c]
2 Pay attention, you who govern multitudes,
and take pride in the huge number of your peoples.
3 Your sovereignty was bestowed on you by the Lord
and your power by the Most High,
who will probe your deeds and scrutinize your intentions.[d]
4 Since as servants of his kingdom you neither ruled justly,
nor kept his law,
nor walked in the paths designated by the will of God,
5 he will move against you terribly and swiftly,
for stern is the judgment decreed against the high and the mighty.[e]
6 The lowly will be pardoned through mercy,
but the mighty will be tested with rigor.
7 For the Lord of all is not in awe of anyone,
nor does he show any deference to worldly rank,
since he himself made small and great alike,
and he provides for all equally.
8 But a strict examination awaits those in positions of power.
9 To you, then, O monarchs, are these words of mine directed
so that you may learn wisdom and not go astray.
10 For those who observe holy precepts with holiness will be accounted holy,
and those who have become learned in them will have a defense[f] to offer.
11 Therefore, be zealous in heeding my words;
long for them, and you will receive instruction.

Wisdom Is Seated at the Door of Those Who Love Her[g]

12 Radiant and never-fading is Wisdom;
she is easily discerned by those who love her
and is found by those who search for her.
13 She hastens to make herself known
to those who desire her.[h]
14 He who rises early to seek her will not have to toil,
for he will discover her seated at his door.
15 To meditate on her is to achieve perfection in understanding,
and he who is vigilant in seeking after her will soon be free from care.
16 For she herself goes about seeking those who are worthy of her,
and she graciously appears to them as they tread life’s paths,
meeting them with all benevolence.
17 The beginning of Wisdom is a sincere desire for instruction,
and concern for learning is evidence of love for her;
18 but love for her is shown by keeping her laws,
and observing her laws brings the assurance of incorruptibility.
19 Now incorruptibility brings people close to God;
20 thus the desire for Wisdom leads to a kingdom.
21 Therefore, if you take delight in thrones and scepters, you rulers of the peoples,
honor Wisdom so that you may reign as kings forever.[i]

Wisdom Is Not the Exclusive Possession of the Initiated[j]

22 Now I will explain what Wisdom is and how she came to be;
I will not hide her secrets from you.
I will trace her steps from the beginning of creation
and bring knowledge of her to full light
without swerving from the truth.
23 Nor will I allow corrosive envy to accompany me,
for it has nothing in common with Wisdom.
24 The abundance of the wise is the salvation of the world,
and a prudent king is the stability of his people.
25 Therefore, learn what I have to teach you,
and you will profit.

Footnotes

  1. Wisdom 6:1 A mysterious force animates the conduct of the righteous and opens to them the hope of immortality: this is Wisdom. It cannot come simply from this earth and result solely from human effort; it finds its origins beyond these horizons—and comes from heaven. To make it accepted, the author ably presents his own experience and reflection (chs. 6–9) as sentiments of Solomon, the wise man beyond compare.
  2. Wisdom 6:1 This text places all on guard against the abuse of their power, their prestige, and their state. Who in their own way are not tempted to be high and mighty? Let them learn to serve and to live under the judgment of God who is righteous.
  3. Wisdom 6:1 The Vulgate adds these words as verse 1 of this chapter: “Wisdom is better than strength, / and the prudent man is better than the mighty.” This necessitates a change in the enumeration of all the verses of the chapter.
  4. Wisdom 6:3 The ancient East regarded the person and authority of the king to be of divine origin. All authority is delegated (see Dan 5:18-20; Jn 19:11).
  5. Wisdom 6:5 God’s punishment of wrongdoing was felt by Moses (Num 20:12), David (2 Sam 24:10-17), and Hezekiah (2 Ki 20:16-19), among others.
  6. Wisdom 6:10 Defense: see Job 31:14; Prov 22:21; Sir 8:9; Hab 2:1.
  7. Wisdom 6:12 When we truly desire the force of life that is Wisdom, she comes before us. For our author, it is the intimate invitation that reaches all human beings in the secret of the heart. It is neither a legalism nor an annoying moralism imposed from outside, but an inner transformation, which becomes the hope of immortality.
  8. Wisdom 6:13 Wisdom, like God himself, always takes the initiative. In this way, she foreshadows God’s prevenient grace (see Jn 6:44-46; 10:25-27; Phil 2:13; 1 Jn 4:19).
  9. Wisdom 6:21 The Vulgate adds here: “Love the light of Wisdom, all you who govern nations,” which in its numbering scheme becomes verse 23.
  10. Wisdom 6:22 Not even Solomon, despite all his renown, had a monopoly on the gift from heaven that is Wisdom. All who share the human condition have need of her; she is a conviction that becomes contagious to transform the world, and no one has the right to make her his own preserve.

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