Chapter 2

Moral Benefits of Wisdom

Chapter 2 begins "My son" and the next "My son" begins chapter 3, and so also chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7. Whoever divided up the chapters -- I think some 800 years ago -- seemed to think that these "My son" phrases amounted to theme breaks, perhaps the next day or week that Solomon held class for his sons -- or at least the people willing to pay attention: Solomon had many sons, but Rehoboam was rather a rebellious sort. Anyway, it's a good division.

Looking at the chapter as a unit, we can see further division into an "IF" part (the first four verses) and a "THEN" part (the rest of the chapter), which is further subdivided into five 3- or 4-verse stanzas.

The Condition

Let's look at the "IF" part: [read v.1-4]
1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,
3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
There are three "if"s in these verses, which set up a poetic parallelism, three different ways to say the same thing, the good thing that the True Son of Wise King Solomon will follow, and the first is further divided into paying attention to Solomon, followed by paying attention to Wisdom (the same, only different), then a different facet, your active asking, and finally your active looking as if on a treasure hunt.

Each of those is again a poetic doublet. So you have doublets of doublets of doublets. [discuss each]

Consequence from God

Now we have the extended consequences of going after Wisdom and Truth, twice the word "then" introduces a consequence of seeking Truth and Wisdom, first as it comes from God [read v.5-8]
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
There in verse 5 you have "the fear of the LORD" again. What does the poetic form here tell us what that means?

In chapter 1 v.8 we had the poetic form setting the Father's advice next to (parallel with) the Mother's Rules. You can't see it in English translation, but chapter 2 v.1-2 you have the same Father/Mother balance (because Wisdom is feminine in Hebrew), and then again here where v.5-8 is from Father God, and v.9+ is from Mother Wisdom. God (like Pastor Mark) is complementarian. Verse 6 reminds us that this is no StarWars Zoroastrianist dualism ("the [equal] dark and light sides of the Force") but rather "Every good and complete Gift comes first from God..." The Bible starts out, "In the beginning God..." It is God Himself (not Wisdom) Who fights the battles (v.7) for His people, and God Himself (not Wisdom) Who stands guard (v.8] over the situations where battle is not yet necessary. Wisdom is rather more passive. But not completely...

Consequence from Wisdom

Here now is the second of two "then" words, first as we saw from God, and now also from Wisdom [read v.9-11]
9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
God fights your battles, but Wisdom can give you the "warm fuzzies" that we all need from time to time. Balance. What do you think is the difference between the protection offered in verse 11, as compared to v.8? Or do you think they are the same? [discuss]

Wisdom Saves You from Bad Men

Wisdom gives you protection from two different -- but similar -- risks. They are similar in that they entice you, but you can choose to go their way or else not. This is different from verse 7 where the Bad Guys are openly attacking you, and must be repelled by force. Guys do that kind of protection, it's their God-given Duty. And we know it (if we pay attention to our Bibles). And if there are no guys around, God steps in to do it. That's verse 7-8. Here we have the Bad Guys who are not physically assaulting you, you can choose, and Wisdom helps you make the right choice [read v.12-15]
12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse,
13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.

Wisdom Saves You from the Bad Woman

Here is the second passive risk. Bad guys suck you into doing Bad Things with them. The Adultress is the same only different. You still choose, but the harm that comes from it is much more subtle, and you need Wisdom so much more to help you understand why it is A Bad Thing to do. [read v.16-19]
16 It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.
18 For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.
So now when we look at what seeking God's Wisdom does for you, it is addressed to "My Son" (not "my daughter"). There are other places in the Bible where it identifies sons and daughters as both recipients of catastrophe or benefits, but here Solomon is talking to guys in terms guys understand. Is there something for women here? Yes, I guess women can be tempted by a gigolo, but the idea of roving bands of female gangs doing bad stuff to people, well, it just doesn't happen. Partly because men have greater upper-body strength, so in one-on-one physical combat, the guy will win over the woman. Most women know that, the guys certainly do. [discuss]

Summary Benefits

Finally we have a summary [read v.20-22]
20 Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.
How many layers of doublet do you see here? Does the form help you to grasp the teaching? [discuss]

Tom Pittman
2022 July 12a