Exhortation to Righteousness, the Key to Life
1Love righteousness,* you who judge the earth;a
think of the LORD in goodness,
and seek him in integrity of heart;b
2Because he is found by those who do not test him,
and manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him.c
3For perverse counsels separate people from God,
and his power, put to the proof, rebukes the foolhardy;d
4* Because into a soul that plots evil wisdom does not enter,
nor does she dwell in a body under debt of sin.e
5For the holy spirit of discipline* flees deceit
and withdraws from senseless counsels
and is rebuked when unrighteousness occurs.f
6For wisdom is a kindly spirit,
yet she does not acquit blasphemous lips;
Because God is the witness of the inmost selfg
and the sure observer of the heart
and the listener to the tongue.h
7For the spirit of the LORD fills the world,i
is all-embracing, and knows whatever is said.
8Therefore those who utter wicked things will not go unnoticed,
nor will chastising condemnation pass them by.j
9For the devices of the wicked shall be scrutinized,
and the sound of their words shall reach the LORD,
for the chastisement of their transgressions;
10Because a jealous ear hearkens to everything,k
and discordant grumblings are not secret.
11Therefore guard against profitless grumbling,
and from calumny* withhold your tongues;
For a stealthy utterance will not go unpunished,
and a lying mouth destroys the soul.
12Do not court death* by your erring way of life,
nor draw to yourselves destruction by the works of your hands.
13Because God did not make death,l
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
14For he fashioned all things that they might have being,
and the creatures of the world are wholesome;
There is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of Hades* on earth,
15For righteousness is undying.* m
The Wicked Reject Immortality and Righteousness Alike
16It was the wicked who with hands and words invited death,
considered it a friend, and pined for it,
and made a covenant with it,
Because they deserve to be allied with it.n
* [1:1–6:21] The reward is the gift of immortality, to the righteous (1:15; 3:1–3), but not to the wicked (5:1–13). Contrasts between these two groups dominate chaps. 1–5. The philosophy of the wicked and their persecution of the righteous are dramatically presented in 1:16–2:24. New light is shed on the suffering of the righteous (3:1–9), childlessness (3:13–15), and premature death (4:7–16)—in contrast to the fate of the wicked (3:10–12, 16–19; 4:3–6, 17–20).
* [1:1] Righteousness: not merely the cardinal virtue of justice (cf. 8:7), but the universal moral quality which is the application of wisdom to moral conduct. You who judge: “judges” and “kings” (cf. 6:1) are addressed in accordance with the literary customs of the times and with the putative Solomonic authorship, but the real audience is the Jewish community.
* [1:4] In these verses personified Wisdom is identified with the spirit of the Lord; so also in 9:17.
* [1:5] Discipline: here and elsewhere, another name for Wisdom.
* [1:11] Calumny: speech against God and divine providence is meant.
* [1:12] Death: as will become clear, the author is not speaking of physical death but of spiritual death, the eternal separation from God.
* [1:14] Hades: the Greek term for the Hebrew Sheol, the dwelling place of the dead.
* [1:15] Undying: immortality is not seen as an innate quality of the soul but as a gift of God to the righteous.
a. [1:1] 1 Chr 29:17; Ps 2:10; Is 26:9.
c. [1:2] 1 Chr 28:9.
e. [1:4] Sir 15:7–8; Rom 7:14.
l. [1:13–14] Ez 18:32; 33:11; 2 Pt 3:9.