A publication of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral
Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-6:3 (11/25-12/8) Third Vesperal Reading: Great Martyr Catherine
War Against Madmen: Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-6:3 SAAS, especially vs. 20: “...creation will fight with Him against the senseless.” Be careful as you read this passage. The obvious can slip past unnoticed. Filters implanted by our education may distort perception of what is meant. Like a purloined letter, embedded assumptions may darken what is in plain view. Here are two crucial elements woven through these verses that are and not to be missed: First) Solomon is describing God’s care for a community called, the righteous (vs. 15). The Lord Most High rewards His people with eternal life (vs. 15), gives them dignity, crowns them with beauty, shelters them and protects them “...against His enemies” (vss. 16,17). Underscore the pronouns used for the righteous; they are all in the plural: their, they and them. Thus, the pronouns refer to a distinct group or community whose name is the righteous (vs. 15). The righteous are not individuals; bear that in mind.
Second) On the basis of the rule that “whoever is the enemy of my beloved is my enemy,” we may identify the opponents of the righteous as the enemies of God, share and share alike, whether they are called ‘His enemies’(vs. 17) or ‘the senseless’ (vs. 20). No sooner does Solomon describe God as He bestows gifts, rewards, care, crowns, shelter, and protections on the righteous (vss. 15-16), then he goes on to show that all of God’s goodness translates into warlike action in defense of His People when required (vss. 19-23).
It is well to consider who are the enemies of God and His People. The generic word, enemies, does not offer much insight, but the word translated as the senseless is rich with meaning in the original. Six current versions translate the Greek word with six different English words: unwise, Brenton; senseless, SAAS; madmen, Revised Standard; frenzied foes, New English Bible; reckless, New Jerusalem Bible; and foolhardy, New American Bible. The Lord will not brook the reckless acts of lawless madmen in foolish frenzy, wreaking senseless waste, doing wrong across the earth, and overturning legitimate government (vs. 23).
The reading describes God in warfare mode against such as this, from mobilization (vss. 17-20) to strategic moves and tactical actions (vss. 20-22); it rounds out the picture with a summary of the disastrous outcomes that will come down on His opponents (vss. 22-23). The People of God are the Lord’s very special treasure. The Prophet Zechariah describes God’s loving care for His People in a word that foretells the coming of Christ for salvation: “He has sent Me out after glory to the nations that plundered you, for the one who assails you is as one who assails the apple of His eye” (Zec. 2:12). The Prophet David says, “He that worketh evil shall not dwell near Thee, nor shall transgressors abide before Thine eyes. Thou hast hated all them that work iniquity; Thou shalt destroy all them that speak a lie” (Ps. 5:3,4). Shudder!
Thus we come to the Lord’s concluding caution to those who rule over multitudes and over a multitude of nations (WSol. 6:2). We recognize such people from the media. Their faces are familiar, be they kings, presidents, judges, generals, or terrorist leaders. The greatest danger for such as these in high positions is inattentiveness, ignorance, thinking to know it all, being proud, and having power and position without understanding (vss. 6:1-3). These vices are deadly unless they are curbed and stifled before God. The truly great humble themselves, rule over their passions, and heed the word of the Lord. Beware of those who do not! Still, the Lord carefully searches their works and examines their plans closely, behind their closed doors (vs. 3). For it is He Who allows them power and lordship (vs. 3), He who can take it away in a flash.
O Lord save thy People, and bless Thine inheritance; granting to Thy People, victory over all their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross, preserving Thy Kingdom.