Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bible Reading: Wisdom 10

[Wisdom Preserves her Followers]

She preserved the first -formed father of the world
when he alone had been created;
And she raised him up from his fall,
and gave him power to rule all things.

But when the unjust man withdrew from her in his anger,
he perished through his fratricidal wrath.
When on his account the earth was flooded,
Wisdom again saved it,
piloting the just man on frailest wood.

She, when the nations were sunk in universal wickedness,
knew the just man, kept him blameless before God,
and preserved him resolute against pity for his child.
She delivered the just man from among the wicked
who were being destroyed,
when he fled as fire descended upon Pentapolis-
Where as a testimony to its wickedness,
there yet remain a smoking desert,
Plants bearing fruit that never ripens,
and the tomb of a disbelieving soul, a standing
pillar of salt.

For those who forsook Wisdom
first were bereft of knowledge of the right,
And then they left mankind a memorial of their folly-
so that they could not even be hidden in their fall.
But Wisdom delivered from tribulations those
who served her.

She, when the just man fled from his brother's anger,
guided him in direct ways,
Showed him the kingdom of God
and gave him knowledge of holy things;
She prospered him in his labors
and made abundant the fruit of his works,
Stood by him against the greed of his defrauders,
and enriched him;

She preserved him from foes,
and secured him against ambush,
And she gave him the prize for his stern struggle
that he might know that devotion to God
is mightier than all else.

She did not abandon the just man when he was sold,
but delivered him from sin.
She went down with him into the dungeon,
and did not desert him in his bonds,
Until she brought him the scepter of royalty
and authority over his oppressors,
Showed those who had defamed him false,
and gave him eternal glory.

The holy people and blameless race-it was she
who delivered them from the nation that oppressed them.
She entered the soul of the Lord's servant,
and withstood fearsome kings with signs and portents;
she gave the holy ones the recompense of their labors,
Conducted them by a wondrous road,
and became a shelter for them by day
and a starry flame by night.

She took them across the Red Sea
and brought them through the deep waters-
But their enemies she overwhelmed,
and cast them up from the bottom of the depths.
Therefore the just despoiled the wicked;
and they sang, O Lord, your holy name
and praised in unison your conquering hand-

Because Wisdom opened the mouths of the dumb,
and gave ready speech to infants.

This is a tracing of the Holy Spirit guiding humans in their faith history from Adam through the Exodus from Egypt.

The reason the author of the Book of Wisdom calls the Holy Spirit "Wisdom" is because while God directs humans what to do and how to worship him, humans must rely on their own wisdom to know how to do this day to day, how to apply what God instructs into their lives. The Holy Spirit is always with humans to guide them and encourage them. Thus during the ancient faith history while God was present (particularly through Moses during the Exodus), many years would go by between revelations and instructions by God where people are expected to live their normal lives within his instructions and faith. The Holy Spirit has always been there guiding all people toward God, and strengthening their faith when it weakens. The Holy Spirit is God in the form that is his word and breath that supports and inspires humans as they live day by day, year by year and over the centuries.

Thus the Holy Spirit is often called "wisdom" in the Bible. Wisdom is not a "being" or a "goddess." The author makes that constantly clear, as does King Solomon's prayer in the previous chapter: "God of my fathers, Lord of mercy, you who have made all things by your word and in your wisdom have established man... give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne...Wisdom, who comes from you...Wisdom, who knows your works and was present when you made the world, who understands what is pleasing in your eyes... who ever knew your counsel, except you had given Wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high..." (Wisdom 9:1, 4, 6, 9, 13).

Holy Spirit, and thus wisdom (of what God wants and how to know God) is the breath of God. That is what King Solomon's prayer means where Wisdom is "given" by God (a gift) and the holy spirit is "sent." The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in his breath and inspiration, and Wisdom is the gift that the Holy Spirit brings from God. Thus Wisdom is a gift, not a personage, but is the manifestation of a gift of the Holy Spirit, who is God in the form of his breath and inspiration that lives and moves among all humans.

I hope you find this helpful.