First Reading: Wisdom 7:7-11

Pursuing Wisdom

7 I prayed, and prudence was given me;
8 I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
9 I preferred her to scepter and throne,
and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
10 Beyond health and comeliness I loved her,
and I chose to have her rather than the light,
because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.
11 Yet all good things together came to me in her company,
and countless riches at her hands.

New American Bible

The book of Wisdom (more correctly called "The Wisdom of Solomon") was a gathering of proverbs and reflections attributed to Solomon, son of David. Israelites believed that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived; his wisdom came directly from God.

This book, however, was written after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile, several hundred years since the death of Solomon. The purpose of the book was to display the wisdom of the Jewish community (in the name and spirit of its wisest man) and to show that Jewish wisdom was superior to pagan wisdom. The author was familiar with Greek language and culture, so the he could speak to both the Jewish community and to the world at that time.

In today's reading, "Solomon" prayed for prudence and wisdom [7] after reflecting on the common origin of all people [7:1-6]. As a God-given gift, wisdom transcended any material treasure or physical attribute [8-11] because ancient people saw wisdom as eternal. The author pursued Wisdom as a personal lover [10]; to be wise required intimacy with the source of wisdom. (Over time, the "personification" of Wisdom made the belief in the Spirit as a person of the Trinity more understandable.)

The author equated the possession of wisdom with a healthy relationship with God. The pursuit of wisdom, then, required prayer, just as "Solomon" did in verse 7.

Have you prayed for wisdom today? What did you pray for?