The Books of Wisdom are in a class by themselves. They introduce to us the way God thinks. But we do have to be careful not to interpret what God is saying the wrong way. Some words seem harsh, so we may think God is literally meaning something harsh. There are lots of tidbits that are useful in getting through hard times. They are not necessarily easy to understand. Here is some background for you. It might help you understand a little more. We do have a cd set on the Psalms by Dr. Bergsma in the Daleiden room under the St Joseph rectory. In fact, there are lots of materials that might be helpful in the Daleiden Room.
The Psalms are songs attributed to King David. David used to play the harp for King Saul to keep him calm (1 Samuel 16:23), but it did not take long for Saul to be jealous of David and seek to have him killed. The first 50 Psalms are considered as David’s actual writings. They refer to himself when he says, “I”, whereas other Psalms refer to the one speaking as “we” or the whole Jewish community. Some Psalms, you can see, are a song of events that actually took place during David’s life (Ps 41:9). They are usually a plea for help. Mixed in with this plea can be a complaint to God and/or a praising of God, even in the midst of turmoil. Psalm 22 does this while predicting the death of Jesus and His tormentors.
The Book of Proverbs was also known as the Book of Wisdom. This is not to be confused with the book that is now called the Book of Wisdom in the Bible. It is attributed to Solomon. When we say “attributed”, it could be that Solomon inspired others to write parts of it. Like the Psalms, it tends to be poetic, but in a different way. Its purpose is to teach wisdom.
The Book of Ecclesiastes is of the shorter Wisdom books that focus on the vanity of things. The more popular reading from Ecclesiastes is the prose that was used even in popular music by “The Birds” in the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” (Eccl 3:2). The song picks up at the beginning of Chapter 3.
The Song of Songs is also short, but quite the scandalizing book of the Bible. It teaches us that God is Love. It tries to illustrate the love God has for His Church. To communicate this love, the writer uses lots of imagery of erotic love. One reading that some use is for marriages (2:8-10).
The Book of Wisdom was written about one hundred years before Jesus’ time and was originally written in Greek. The Book of Wisdom starts with the issue of justice and points out how injustice is not so wise. It compares vice and folly with wisdom, purity and real power. The attributes of wisdom are long.
The Book of Sirach was originally written in Hebrew in about 200 BC. This is one of the books that was no longer accepted after the Council of Jamnia and therefore not accepted by the Protestant denominations. There is a forward that is from what seems to be the grandson of the original writer who did the translation into Greek. The forward is not considered inspired by the Holy Spirit, but is worth the read.
Something to contemplate, with so many Books of Wisdom, wisdom itself must have been very cherished by the Hebrew people. The impact Solomon had on the people reached far more than what we could have imagined; not just in the building of the Temple with stones, but in setting before our minds the wisdom of God to build much more precious temples.