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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 9: Everlasting Contempt
Here, out of necessity, I am going to repeat some concepts which we have already expounded upon to one degree or another earlier in this commentary on Wisdom, and quite often elsewhere in our commentaries at Christogenea, but with the hope that Solomon himself helps to clarify them for us. However we believe that these concepts, having to do with death, resurrection, and the eternal Adamic spirit, are of crucial importance to a proper understanding of our Christian faith.
Since the beginning of Wisdom chapter 2, Solomon has been contrasting the attitudes and actions of the ungodly and their ultimate fate, with the attitudes and actions of the righteous, and their ultimate fate, alternating back and forth between the two as he proceeds. In that process, one prominent feature of his comparison is the attitude of disdain which the ungodly have towards the righteous, and as a result, how the righteous are mistreated and persecuted by them. Another feature is the parallels with the ministry and gospel of Christ, for which we have viewed the righteous man in Solomon’s example as both a type and a prophecy of the Messiah.
Discussing the latter portion of Wisdom chapter 4, we began to see how Solomon had described The Reward of the Righteous, and how the ungodly respond to that reward when they see the righteous attain to it. Since that theme continues into chapter 5, at the end of our last presentation we already presented and commented upon the first two verses, which we shall now repeat, as they helped to conclude what we had seen in chapter 4, but they are also an important introduction to what we shall see here as we proceed through chapter 5, as the chapter divisions themselves are artificial:
Wisdom 5:1 Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. 2 When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for.
As Paul of Tarsus had professed in chapter 2 of his first epistle to the Corinthians: “ 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Paul was most likely paraphrasing what is found in Isaiah chapter 64: “4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” In the Septuagint, the passage ends with “them that wait for mercy.” Later in this chapter the vanity of the hope of the ungodly is described, as they spent their lives trusting in themselves, seeking only to edify themselves in the fulfillment of their base desires.
This same theme, where the ungodly despise the righteous, and in spite of that the righteous are greatly rewarded, is also found in the 31st Psalm, attributed to David as he prays to Yahweh and says: “18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous. 19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!”
We had already related the opening verse of this chapter to the prophecy in Zechariah where it says of the Messiah that “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced”, speaking of those who had sided with His enemies. But this is also a more general statement, that the ungodly have a general tendency to disregard the works of the righteous as they live, however when they witness the reward of the righteous, they shall come to realize their error, and lament of the error of their own ways. However that revelation is also as assertion that they live on after this life, in order for them to lament their errors and their sinful ways, as earlier in Solomon’s comparison, they have even been charged with the killing of the righteous.
So for that reason, we had compared this passage to a statement which is found in Isaiah chapter 29, and it speaks of the sin and punishment of the children of Israel where it says that “22 Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. 23 But when he [meaning Jacob] seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. 24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” Where it refers to Yahweh having redeemed Abraham, it seems to be implying that the sanctification of the children of Jacob is on account of the promises to Abraham.
The circumstances described indicate that Yahweh in Isaiah must have been speaking of the same judgment which Solomon describes here in Wisdom. So the ungodly sinners among those who have passed from this life shall learn doctrine, as Solomon is also describing here, even if it is too late for them to seek to please God in doing good works. With this it must also be evident, that salvation itself is not by works, but that there is a reward for them that do good and remain faithful to God, as Paul of Tarsus had often explained. Now to proceed from where we had last left off, in verse 3 of Wisdom chapter 5:
Wisdom 5:3 And they repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit shall say within themselves, This was he, whom we had sometimes in derision, and a proverb of reproach: 4 We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour: 5 How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints!
David had expressed this same sentiment, but from a different perspective, in the 39th Psalm where he wrote in a prayer: “7 And now, Lord, what wait I for [what do I wait for]? my hope is in thee. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.” Unrepentant sinners are frequently delivered into the hands of the wicked, so David pleads for forgiveness, that he not suffer that fate.
But here in Wisdom we see that in the end, the ungodly are compelled to admit their foolishness, faced with the reality of the consequences of their actions, while the righteous certainly shall be rewarded in spite of the base desire by which the wicked had sought to make a reproach of them. However where we see the exclamation, “How is he numbered among the children of God”, that is only a reference to his future estate among the children of God, and does not express the concept that one is a child of God only by one’s own righteousness.
Now Solomon continues to describe the admissions which the ungodly shall be compelled to profess:
6 Therefore have we erred [πλανάω, literally gone astray or wandered] from the way [ὁδός] of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the sun of righteousness rose not upon us.
There is a similar allegory in the opening verses of Malachi chapter 4 where we read of the punishment of the wicked, and of hope for the righteous: “1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” So here in Wisdom the ungodly lament that the sun of righteousness had not risen upon them, since even the children of Israel are to be treated as the wicked if they do not follow their God.
Examples supporting this conclusion are found in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 where Paul had asked “15 And what accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what share the faithful with the faithless?” Then in 1 Timothy chapter 5 he wrote: “8 Now if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially of kin, he has denied the faith and is inferior to one of the faithless.” Earlier in Wisdom the ungodly were portrayed as having despised the weak, the orphans and the widows for their own gain, and as having “neglected the righteous, and forsaken the Lord” (Wisdom 3:10), so they fit the same example of which Paul had written. Then we read in Revelation chapter 18, speaking of the fall of Babylon: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Ostensibly those plagues are meant for the wicked, but will also come upon the impious children of God who refuse to separate themselves from the wicked.
In that same manner, Solomon continues to speak of the ungodly, explaining that they shall have to confess that:
7 We wearied ourselves in the way [τρίβος] of wickedness and destruction: yea, we have gone through deserts, where there lay no way [ὁδός]: but as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it.
This verse would be translated more literally:
7 We filled [or satisfied] ourselves on the paths of lawlessness and destruction: we traveled through deserts impassable, but the way of the Lord we have not known.
It is likely that the King James translators had taken a word which means filled and translated it as wearied because it is evident that the fulfillment of worldly desires is vanity and one shall indeed be wearied in any such pursuit, since in the end it is all for nought. Then they made a phrase, “where there lay no way”, out of a single word, ἄβατος, which is literally unsteppable and therefore untrodden or impassable. Since there have always been such sinners, here it must be impassable.
This is the very lesson of the parable of the unrighteous steward found in Luke chapter 16, which may go unnoticed because the King James Version and others have translated it so poorly. After the unrighteous steward is caught trying to ingratiate the men who were indebted to his master by writing off large portions of their debt for them, so that those men would owe him their favor, he was caught and removed from his position as steward, at which he lamented the prospect of being impoverished. Then upon making that example, as it reads in the Christogenea New Testament, Christ had inquired of His disciples where we read: “9 And I say to you, shall you make for yourselves friends from the riches of unrighteousness, that when you should fail they may receive you into eternal dwellings?” The wicked steward had forsaken his lord in an attempt secure his own future, as the ungodly here in Wisdom are portrayed as forsaking Yahweh their Lord, so that they could amass worldly riches for themselves.
The parable also reveals that the unrighteous steward, in this case, was one of the “sons of this age” and not one of the “sons of light”, and therefore he would be expected to act in the manner in which he did. But here in Wisdom, that way is described as being impassable for the ungodly among the children of Yahweh who would choose to follow it. For that reason, as Christ asked that question of His disciples, He asked them if those who would be their friends on account of their unrighteous rewards could ever receive them into eternal dwellings, something which is only possible for Yahweh, so it is indeed an impassable way. Therefore a man should instead seek righteousness, hoping to be a friend of God.
Of the sinners in Israel, we read in Jeremiah chapter 5: “4 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God. 5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. 6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.” Later in the chapter, such sin is attributed to the entire nation, where the Word of Yahweh says: “11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD.” I included this passage as an example that it is indeed the children of Israel who sinned in this manner, and were considered foolish for their ungodliness, as Solomon portrays the ungodly here as considering themselves foolish.
Likewise, we see in Ezekiel chapter 22 that the children of Israel had sinned in the manner in which Solomon had described the ungodly here in Wisdom: “6 Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood. 7 In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow. 8 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths.” The sabbaths are profaned when sinners endeavor to keep them, having righteousness only for a pretense. Here we see that the princes of Israel oppressed the weak, the fatherless, the widows, just as the ungodly portrayed here had also done.
We must not forget the fact that the ungodly here, as it was written of them in Wisdom chapter 3, are those who had “neglected the righteous, and forsaken the Lord”, and therefore it cannot be ignored that Solomon is also describing Israelites where he speaks of the ungodly in these latter chapters. Now we have already read from Malachi chapter 4 where Yahweh had declared that “all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble”, and here in Wisdom, Solomon also describes how the ungodly shall have to admit that their wicked actions were a result of their pride:
8 What hath pride [ὑπερηφανία, arrogance, haughtiness or pride] profited us? or what good hath riches with our vaunting [ἀλαζονεία] brought [συμβάλλω] us?
The second half of this verse may be translated more literally:
8 … Or what has wealth with arrogance helped us?
Here in Wisdom, near the beginning of this comparison of the ungodly and the righteous, Solomon had described the ungodly as forsaking their own people, and attempting to establish their own law by their own power, by which they may then oppress the weak, the elderly, the widows, and the righteous for their own profit. This is seen in part in Wisdom chapter 2 where the ungodly are portrayed as having said: “10 Let us oppress the poor righteous man, let us not spare the widow, nor reverence the ancient gray hairs of the aged. 11 Let our strength be the law of justice: for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth.” Reading the 10th Psalm, we also find that the reason for this behavior is pride, where it makes an imprecation: “2 The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. 3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth [just as the unrighteous steward of the parable had tried to do]. 4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”
Throughout the Book of Job, the Psalms and the other prophetic books of Scripture, the development of this attitude of the ungodly is consistently attributed to pride. Another example is found in the 12th Psalm, also attributed to David: “1 Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. 3 The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: 4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?” By elevating ourselves above our brethren, imagining for ourselves to be better than our own people, we are actually prideful and boasting against Yahweh our God, which is vanity indeed. But then there follows a promise of deliverance from such men: “5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.”
This same pride of the ungodly who would accumulate riches for themselves while forsaking their own people, or even by taking advantage of them, is found in another parable which is recorded in Luke chapter 12, where after finding two brothers who were fighting with one another over their dead father’s estate Christ spoke to His disciples: “16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. ”
We must not be misunderstood, men who seek righteousness are not compelled to take a vow of poverty, they are not expected to stop working or edifying their houses, and there is nothing wrong with accumulating or possessing wealth. It is manifest in Ecclesiastes, another work by Solomon, that if one labors and is able to maintain the fruits of his labor, that is a blessing from God. In Genesis chapter 13 we read: “1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” But what we must understand if we have wealth is found in Deuteronomy chapter 8, where the Word of Yahweh says “18 … thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.”
The unrighteous steward never had God in the first place, and acted according to his own character. The rich man in the parable of Luke chapter 12 forgot Yahweh when he considered what he should do with his riches. But the ungodly which Solomon describes here had forsaken Yahweh in order to enrich themselves by oppressing their own people in their endeavor to enrich themselves. So now, in a lengthy series of similar allegories which liken the transience of pride to the passing of a shadow, or a ship, a bird, or an arrow, Solomon portrays the ungodly as answering their own question concerning the profit which their pride and their vaunting had brought to them:
9 All those things are passed away like a shadow, and as a post [ἀγγελία, literally message] that hasted by [παρατρέχω, was neglected or escaped notice]; 10 And as a ship that passeth over the waves of the water, which when it is gone by, the trace thereof cannot be found, neither the pathway of the keel in the waves; 11 Or as when a bird hath flown through the air, there is no token of her way to be found, but the light air being beaten with the stroke [ταρσός, the flat] of her wings and parted with the violent noise and motion of them, is passed through, and therein afterwards no sign where she went [οὐχ … σημεῖον ἐπιβάσεως, no sign of the approach] is to be found; 12 Or like as when an arrow is shot at a mark, it parteth the air, which immediately cometh together [ἀναλύω, returns here] again [again is added], so that a man cannot know where it went through [literally that its passage is unknown]:
Once again speaking of the sinners in Israel, we read in Isaiah chapter 2: “12 For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.” Then later in Isaiah we once again read of the vanity of their pride, in chapter 28: “1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower…” Here, awaiting their judgment and having witnessed the reward of the righteous, the ungodly are described as having recognized their pride and their wickedness, and having realized that they shall have no reward for the way in which they had lived their own lives, so Solomon continues and depicts them as saying:
13 Even so we in like manner, as soon as we were born, began to draw to our end, and had no sign of virtue to shew; but were consumed in our own wickedness.
The King James translators rendered this verse in a manner that makes it appear that these ungodly men began on a path to wickedness because that was their character, their intrinsic nature, but this translation is misleading. We would translate the verse to read:
13 Thusly also [οὕτως καὶ] we having been born [ἡμεῖς γεννηθέντες] had failed [ἐξελίπομεν, a form of ἐκλείπω], and surely of virtue we had no sign to display; but we were consumed in our wickedness.
After David had sinned against Uriah, and was informed of his sin by Nathan the prophet, he responded by admitting in a prayer to Yahweh his God that he was a sinner from the womb, as it is recorded in the 51st Psalm: “3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” So David acknowledged the sinful nature of the flesh which Paul of Tarsus would later describe. But what distinguishes David from the ungodly whom Solomon describes here is that he sought repentance in his own lifetime. As Paul had written to Timothy in chapter 5 of his first epistle to him, “24 Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.”
As Solomon had explained in the early chapters of Wisdom, the ungodly despised the righteous because he had reproached them for their sins, and had become intractable to them, so they had to kill him. So they have no excuse for their wickedness in the judgment, having been confronted and rejecting the correction of a godly man. But when Nathan the prophet informed David of his sin, David immediately repented and sought forgiveness.
In Romans chapter 6 Paul had discussed the struggle between the fleshly and spiritual natures of man, and in our commentary on that chapter, The Two Natures of Adamic Man (in May of 2014), we said in part that: “The Adamic race, here to learn what sin is, is written into the Book of Life and they shall learn indeed. In the end, every Adamic knee shall bow to Yahweh.” Later, in Romans chapter 8, after describing the learning process induced by the desire to sin in contrast with a knowledge of the law, Paul had concluded: “20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” By saying creature, a word which would better have been translated as creation, Paul was referring specifically to the Adamic creation, man as a particular creation, as he contrasts it to other things which Yahweh had created where he referred to “any other creation” in the subsequent verses.
With Paul’s statement that the Adamic creation was subjected to vanity by Yahweh, Solomon also agreed, in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 where he declared that “10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.” So there is value in vanity, failure and sin, as man is expected to learn by it, but those who fail and sin without having done any good shall suffer for it, as they have “no sign of virtue to display”, which we see here is one of the things which the ungodly shall have to confess.
The truth of this assertion is made evident by Paul once again, in 1 Corinthians chapter 3 where he said: “11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” Therefore we see that even the ungodly here are preserved, but having “no sign of virtue to display”, as they themselves shall be compelled to confess, they shall have no reward.
It is this salvation without reward which we have likened to the resurrection of everlasting contempt which we see in Daniel chapter 12 where it says: “2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Then at the end of our last presentation we also likened this to those who remain outside of the City of God as it is described in Revelation chapter 22, where we read: “14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” As we also said: since where we see this described it is evident that all of the enemies of Christ have already been destroyed, then perhaps this describes the everlasting contempt of Daniel chapter 12, and the reward of the righteous is the right to enter into the city of God.
So the hope of the ungodly, what they had worked for over the course of their lives, is gone and in the end they are left with nothing, as all of their works shall be burned in the fire. Now Solomon describes the result of what the ungodly themselves have been portrayed as having to confess:
14 For the hope of the ungodly is like dust that is blown away with the wind; like a thin froth that is driven away with the storm; like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with a tempest, and passeth away as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day.
Notice that Solomon did not say that the ungodly themselves would be “like dust that is blown away with the wind”, but only that their hopes would come to nothing, referring to the hopes of enriching themselves and securing their own existence which they had expressed during their lifetimes.
In the 78th Psalm, Asaph declares the importance of the law and the covenant: “5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: 6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: 8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.”
We have already cited the parable of the rich man which is recorded in Luke chapter 12. After having imparted that parable to His disciples, and warning that those with wealth should be rich towards God, Yahshua Christ had told them how they should act in a manner which is contrary to the arrogance that the rich man had displayed, where we read: “22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? 25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? 26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Yet even that does not mean that they would have to work for them.
The rich man was not at fault simply for being wealthy, but he was at fault because he wanted to hold onto wealth which was even beyond his own capacity to maintain. Building larger storehouses in his arrogance he believed that he would grow even wealthier in spite of not taking thought as to the will of his God. He may have taken care for the less fortunate of his own kin, for the poor, or for his hired hands or even his servants, and held onto most of his wealth, however he only thought of himself.
The apostle James had warned the wealthy in chapter 4 of his epistle, those who had accumulated their riches by taking advantage of the less fortunate: “1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. 4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. 5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. 6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” This warning from James is a summary of much of what we have read concerning the attitudes and actions of the ungodly up to this point in the Wisdom of Solomon, but James’ warning was only one of temporal judgment, and not of the fate of everlasting contempt which they would be in danger to suffer after their passing from this life.
Now Solomon once again returns to further describe and contrast the reward of the righteous:
15 But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High. 16 Therefore shall they receive a glorious [εὐπρέπεια, goodly] kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord's hand: for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he protect them.
As Solomon had said in Wisdom chapter 2: “18 For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.” And then in Wisdom chapter 3, “1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them.” Therefore Christ had also said, in John chapter 10: “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”
Yet while Solomon contrasts the kingdom which the righteous shall receive with the empty hands of the ungodly, that does not mean that the ungodly shall cease to exist, as Solomon had also said in Wisdom chapter 2, “23 For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.” Even being resurrected to everlasting contempt, it is evident that one shall exist for eternity.
The City of God which is described in Revelation chapter 22 has upon its gates the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Then where it says in that chapter that “they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city”, it is evident that even then, entrance into the city is limited to only those Israelites who had done such things. Therefore we find sinners must remain outside of its gates. But perhaps there is still a greater purpose, one which has not yet been revealed, as it also describes a tree of life with twelve types of fruit, ostensibly one type for each tribe of the children of Israel, and there it says that “the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” If the Adamic man is here in this world to learn what sin is, there must be a greater purpose for that lesson in the world to come, even for those that have sinned. Otherwise, as we read from Isaiah chapter 28, it would be useless for they who erred in spirit to come to understanding, or for they who murmured to learn doctrine.
We have also explained, earlier in our commentary on Wisdom and elsewhere, that what is righteous is declared by Yahweh God, and not according to the perception of men. So in Isaiah chapter 45 we read another promise: “17
But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.… 19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.… 21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth [scattered Israel]: for I am God, and there is none else. 23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. 25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” If Yahweh alone declares “things that are right”, then of course only He can determine who is righteous.
Paul also explained this same thing where he wrote in Romans chapter 3: “23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified [which is rendered righteous by Yahweh God] freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” As the Word of Yahweh says in Jeremiah chapter 33: “7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. 8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” So if Yahweh declares all of Israel righteous in spite of their sins, why do men continue to argue against God, and wish to see vengeance against their own brethren?
Christ also explained this, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 7: “1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Christians must judge according to the law, but there Christ was describing hypocritical judgment. In Matthew chapter 18, there is a parable which illustrates the hypocrisy of a servant who is forgiven his debts, but who does not forgive his fellow servants in turn, and the end of that servant is worse than the beginning.
Solomon now changes the topic once again, to discuss the vengeance of God against His enemies. Here we shall only begin to describe what he wrote in reference to that:
17 He shall take to him his jealousy for complete armour, and make the creature his weapon for the revenge [ἄμυνα, defense from or revenge, vengeance upon] of his enemies.
As for the word creature, as Paul had also used it in Romans chapter 8, it refers to a particular creation. The Greek word is κτίσις, and it is more frequently translated as creation, especially in the King James Version. But while in the context of Paul’s epistle it seems to refer to the wider Adamic creation, here in the Wisdom Solomon he seemed to have used it even more narrowly, of the children of Israel alone. This is made evident in Wisdom chapter 19, where speaking particularly of the children of Israel at the time of the Exodus in contrast to the old Adamic world, he wrote “6 For the whole creature in his proper kind was fashioned again anew, serving the peculiar commandments that were given unto them, that thy children might be kept without hurt.” Those commandments were given only to the children of Israel, and they were given at Mount Sinai in connection with the events of the Exodus, the time about which Solomon was writing in Wisdom chapter 19, so it is that to which Solomon was referring. One reason for difference in the interpretation of creature as it was used by Solomon and Paul may be evident in the fact that by Paul’s time, the children of Israel were the vast majority of the surviving remnant of the Adamic race.
Corroborating this use of the word creature to describe the children of Israel is the Word of Yahweh as it is written in Isaiah chapter 43: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” Then further on in that same chapter, speaking of those same scattered children of Israel: “6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”
So that creation which Solomon defines later in this book, which is that of the children of Israel, must be the creation which shall be the weapon that Yahweh God uses to execute revenge against His enemies, and Paul of Tarsus said this same thing in his second epistle to the Corinthians, in chapter 10. However Paul was also warning them that their present struggle is a spiritual one, which they had to overcome first. So he wrote: “3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
We have already cited the 78th Psalm in relation to the importance of the law. That Psalm also describes the fact that the disobedient can have no share in victory, even in the victory of Yahweh, where right from where we had left off, Asaph goes on to say: “9 The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. 10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; 11 And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.” This was spoken in relation to the captivity of Ephraim, and therefore we see why the tribes of Israel went into that captivity, having been defeated by the pagan Assyrians. So without keeping the commandments of Christ, we ourselves shall never see victory over the enemies of Yahweh our God.