Wisdom of Solomon

 

Prologue

 

Pitfalls and Rewards

 

Chapter One

 

Love goodness, virtue and doing right,

all you men and women who “rule the earth”!

Think of the Lord God as your model of right conduct.

Seek Him with sincerity of heart,

because He’s soon found by every person

who doesn’t play games with Him.

He quickly reveals His mind

to men and women whose intentions are honest

and who really put their trust in Him.

 

Distrusting the Lord God, in fact, is the very thing

that separates men and women from God.

Put His power to a foolish test

and you’ll certainly not find Him,

because his Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,

nor dwell in a body enslaved by sin.

 

The holy and disciplined Spirit of Wisdom flees from deceit.

She will rise and depart from any person

whose thoughts are reckless and foolish

just as swiftly as She hides at the approach of wickedness.

 

Although Wisdom is a kindly Spirit who loves all mankind,

She will not pardon any person who mocks God or scorns him.

Yes, God is aware of the blasphemer’s innermost feelings,

and is a true observer of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.

 

The Spirit of the Lord God fills the whole world.

Therefore, He who holds everything in His hands

knows everything that is said.

No complainer who insults Him will escape His notice,

and a just punishment will not pass the blasphemer by.

 

It’s certain the Lord God will enquire

into all the words of an ungodly man.

A report of those words will come to the Lord,

and the blasphemer will be convicted by his own stupidity.

The Lord God’s wary ear hears all things;

even the faintest muttering of lies and slanders

does not pass by unheard.

 

Beware then of foolish murmuring.

Keep your tongue from backbiting.

No slanderous words are so secret and unnoticed,

they will not go unpunished.

A lying mouth destroys the soul.

 

Do not invite death by the errors of your life,

or bring about your own destruction

by the works of your own hands.

 

God did not create death.

He doesn’t delight in the death of the living.

He created all things because he delights

in the pleasure of their very existence.

 

The generative forces of nature are wholesome.

There is no destructive poison in them at all.

Righteousness is indestructible and immortal.

The kingdom of death has no place in God’s scheme.

 

It was the works and words of ungodly and misguided men

that called death into existence.

These fools considered death their friend. They pined for it.

They made a covenant with it

because they were not fit to take their place in heaven.

   

Chapter Two

 

Unwisely they reasoned, saying to themselves:

“Short and sorrowful are our lives.

There is no remedy for death.

No man has ever been known to return from the grave.

We were all born through mere chance,

and in a short time we shall be as though we’d never been.

 

“The breath in our nostrils is smoke.

Reason is a spark, kindled by the beating of our hearts,

and when it’s extinguished, our bodies will turn into ashes,

and our spirits will vanish like empty air.

 

“In time, our names will be forgotten.

No-one will remember our works.

Our lives will have passed away like the traces of a cloud,

or be scattered like mist

that is chased by the rays of the sun

and utterly dissolved by its heat.

 

“Our allotted time is but a passing shadow.

No return is possible from death.

Our one-way journey is sealed from the moment we’re born.

No-one is ever allowed to turn back.

“Come, therefore, let’s make full use

of everything the world offers, as in our youth,

and indulge ourselves in all the good things that exist.

Let’s take our fill of the choicest wines,

anoint our bodies with costly perfume,

and let no "flower of spring" pass us by.

 

“Yes, let’s crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither,

and let no-one shrink from sharing our revelry.

Everywhere and every place,

we’ll leave visible signs of our licentiousness,

for this is our portion in life, this is our lot.

 

“Let’s oppress and mock all righteous men,

especially if they’re poor and defenseless.

Let’s not spare the widow either,

or defer to the gray hairs of the aged.

Let strength be the law. Our strength! Our might is right!

The weak and feeble are worth nothing at all!

 

“Let’s lie in wait for the righteous man.

He’s a nuisance! He dares to oppose our actions

and even reproaches us for sins against the law.

He dares to accuse us of going against all the old precepts

we were taught at school.

 

“This righteous man professes to have knowledge of God.

He calls himself a child of the Lord

and dares to tell us our ideas are wrong.

 

“Even the very sight of him makes us angry,

because his manner of life is so totally unlike ours.

He’s so stupid and old-fashioned

that he considers us something filthy and base.

He avoids our ways as if they were unnatural and unclean,

yet has the gall to describe the death of the righteous

as blessed and happy.

 

“This man is always bragging God is his father;

so let’s see if his words are true.

Let’s test what will happen at the end of his life:

for if this righteous man is truly God’s son,

then God will help him

and deliver him from our hands, his enemies.

 

“Let’s test him with insults and torture.

We’ll soon find out how gentle, meek,

patient and forbearing he really is.

 

“Let’s torture him,

and then condemn him to a shameful death.

 

“Don’t blame us! You can’t blame us in any way!

For according to what this man is always boasting,

he’ll be protected.”   

 

Thus these vermin reasoned, but they were led astray

by their own wickedness which blinded them.

They could not see the secret purposes of God,

let alone discover the rewards of holiness

or hope for the joyful prize God promises to blameless souls.

 

For God created man for eternal happiness.

He made him in the image of His own everlasting life.

 

Through the devil’s envy, death entered the world,

but it is only those who join his party who will experience it.

   

Chapter Three

 

The souls of the right-living are in the gentle hands of God.

None of hell’s torments will ever touch them.

True, in the eyes of the foolish, they may seem to die.

Their death is an occasion for sorrow and misery.

They have gone from our lives. They exist no more.

 

But they are actually at peace.

In the sight of men they have lost all they loved,

but in point of fact they have gained immortality.

 

Because they disciplined themselves a little,

they will receive great joy.

God tested them and found them worthy of His company.

Like gold in the furnace, He refined their souls,

and like a sacrificial burnt offering, He was pleased with them.

In the course of time, they will shine forth

and run like sparks of fire through the stubble.

They will govern many people and rule over nations.

And the Lord God will reign with them forever.

 

Those who trust in Him will understand all truth.

Those who are faithful will live with Him in love.

Grace and mercy He freely bestows on those He accepts.

He watches over, guards and protects those who love Him.

 

But as for the wicked who disregard what is right

and rebel against the Lord God,

they will be punished, according to their own reasoning,

as they deserve.

 

All who despise wisdom and learning are miserable at heart.

Their hopes are hopeless, their labors unfruitful,

their works without profit.

Their wives are stupid, their children evil,

their offspring cursed.

 

Blessed is the barren woman who is undefiled.

She has not entered into a sinful union

and will therefore bear fruit when God examines souls.

Blessed also is the eunuch

whose hands have committed no lawless deed

and who has not devised wicked things in his heart and soul.

God will shower special favors upon him

and show him to a place of great delight in his temple.

Glorious is the fruit of good labor.

The root of wisdom will never wither and die.   

 

However, children born of adulterers

will never come to maturity.

In fact, all the offspring of an unlawful union will perish.

Even if their lives are long, they’ll be held of no account.

And finally, even in old age, they’ll receive no honor.

If they die young, they’ll have no hope,

no consolation at all in the Day of Decision.

The end of a wicked generation is horrible to contemplate. 

 

 

Chapter Four

 

It is far better to be childless, yet have virtue.

Virtue has its own reward — immortality —

because it carries favor with both God and men.

Indeed, where virtue is present, men honor it,

and when it is gone, they pine for it.

 

Virtue marches throughout all time,

crowned in triumph after triumph,

victorious in all contests for prizes that are undefiled.

 

But the prolific brood of the ungodly will enjoy no triumphs.

Not one illegitimate seedling will put forth a deep root

or take a firm hold in the soil.

Even if it does manage to grow to maturity

and put forth boughs for a while,

insecurely it will stand as it is shaken by the wind.

 

By the violence of the wind it will soon be uprooted,

its branches broken off into stumps,

its fruit useless and not ripe enough to eat.

Good for nothing!

 

When God examines them,

children born of unlawful unions

serve as witnesses against their parents.

 

On the other hand, the righteous man,

even though he dies early, will be at peace.

 

God does not honor old age because of its length of time.

He does not measure it by any certain number of years at all.

Understanding is the badge of gray hair.

A blameless life, however short or long, is ripe old age.

 

There was once a man who pleased God

and was loved by Him.

While still living — and living among sinners at that —

he was taken up to heaven.

 

Yes, he was caught up to heaven

lest evil change his understanding,

or guile deceive his soul.

 

Wickedness exerts a fascination

that obscures what is good.

A roving desire perverts the innocent mind.

 

So, being perfected in a short time,

this man had actually fulfilled long years.

His soul was pleasing to the Lord.

Therefore did the Lord God take him quickly away

from the midst of wickedness.

 

And yes, people saw all this with their own eyes,

but still they didn’t understand,

nor did they take this event to heart.

They simply couldn’t appreciate

that God showers grace and mercy upon His elect,

and continually protects and watches over His holy ones.

 

Righteous men who have died

will condemn the unrighteous who are living.

And a youth who has been quickly perfected

will condemn the prolonged old age of an ungodly man.

 

Those who see the death of a wise man

won’t understand what the Lord God has in mind for him

and for what purpose He kept him safe.

When they see him die, they’ll have contempt for him.

 

But the Lord God will laugh them to scorn,

for in death they will become dishonored —

an outrage amongst the risen dead forever.

 

Speechless, will they be dashed to the ground.

The Lord God will shake them from their foundations:

The memory of them will perish.

They will be left utterly dry and barren.

 

And what anguish will they suffer

when their sins are reckoned up!

They will come with dread to judgment

and their lawless deeds will convict them to their face.   

 

 

Chapter Five

 

With supreme confidence does the righteous man

stand up boldly

to face all those evildoers who afflicted him

and those fools who made light of his labors.

When these ungodly men catch sight of him,

they will be utterly amazed at his unexpected salvation.

Shaking with fear, and stricken with remorse,

these cowards will speak to one another in anguish:        

 

“This is the man we fools used to laugh at,

the man we held in derision, the butt of all our little games.

We regarded his good life as madness!

We thought his ‘death’ was without honor!

 

“Yet here he is, numbered among the sons of God

and assigned to a place among the saints! 

How did this come about?

 

“Clearly we were at fault.

We were the ones who strayed from the way of truth.

The sun of virtue never rose on us;

the light of righteousness failed to shine.

We took our fill on the paths of wickedness and destruction.

 

“Although we journeyed on and on through trackless deserts,

we never sighted the way of the Lord.

What profit has our arrogance brought us?

For all our boasted wealth, what advantage has it given us?

 

“All our words, our deeds,

and our riches have vanished like a shadow;

passed like a fleeting rumor;

like a ship that sails through billowing waves,

and when it has passed by,

not a trace of its journey can be seen.

 

“When a bird flies through the air,

it leaves no sight of its passage,

even though the air be lashed by the fury of its pinions

and torn apart by its rushing flight

as it forces its way onward with beating wings.

Afterwards, there is no sign at all of its coming or going.

 

“When an arrow is loosed at a target,

the pierced air, once divided, instantly comes together,

and there is no way of knowing

exactly which path the arrow has traced.

 

“So it us with us:

As soon as were born,

we were dead.

Consumed by our own wickedness,

we left not a speck of virtue.”

 

Yes, the hopes of ungodly men

are like chaff carried by the wind;

like a spider’s web dispersed by a storm;

like a gust of smoke dissolved in the air;

like our memory of one passing stranger among hundreds,

a guest who once stayed in our house but a day.

 

On the other hand, the right-living live forever.

Their reward is in the hands of the Lord God.

The Most High takes good care of them.

 

Therefore they will each receive a crown of splendor and glory,

a diadem of great beauty from the hand of their Lord.

With His right hand will He shelter them,

and with His whole arm will He shield them.

 

For armor, the Lord God will take His zealous love.

He will protect what is His with a breastplate of righteousness

and arm all creation to repel His enemies.

He will wear a helmet of impartial justice

and hold in readiness an invincible shield of holiness.

In His wrath, He will forge a biting sword,

and His whole universe will join with Him to fight

the fools, the reckless, the madmen who have rejected Him.  

 

Shafts of lightning will fly with true aim;

and from the clouds, as from a well-drawn bow,

bolts will leap to their target.

Hailstones full of fury will be hurled from a catapult.

The waters of the sea shall rage against all degenerates,

and rivers will engulf them without pity.

 

[Chapter Six]

 

Wickedness, if unchecked, can lay waste the whole earth.

Evil-doing overturn even the thrones of mighty rulers.

If a storm of anarchy is allowed to rise against them,

like a tempest, it will winnow them away.

 

Listen, therefore, you kings, and understand;

Be taught and learn, you judges of the ends of the earth.

Give ear, all you that rule over multitudes,

and boast of many nations under your care.

Your dominion was given you by the Lord,

your sovereignty from the Most High.

He will scrutinize all your actions

and enquire into all your plans.

 

If, as servants of His kingdom,

you did not rule rightly,

nor kept His law,

nor walked the path

He ordained,

He will judge you,

most swiftly and severely.

 

The Lord God reserves

most ruthless judgments

for all the high and mighty.

His mercy is great for the lowly,

but the actions of mighty men will be

mightily examined.

 

The Lord God of all will not stand in awe of a single person,

nor show the slightest degree of deference to greatness.

Didn’t He Himself create both great and small?

Does He not provide for all alike?

A strict accounting will He require

from all who occupy positions of power.

 

To you then, kings and rulers, my words are directed

that you may learn of Wisdom.

Through Her power, you will not transgress;

for all those who observe holy things in a holy way

are themselves made holy.

And by accepting instruction from a holy person,

you have a sure means of defense.

Therefore, set your hearts on hearing my words;

yearn for them, and you will be surely instructed.