Now we enter a new unit, the reading of the books of wisdom. We will cover
this unit in a little less than four weeks, this year in the readings from May 27 through June 22. Notice that we pass over the book of Psalms in this section to continue reading it little by little with the rest of the Bible and to come back later and read all of the psalms consecutively at the end of the year. As we read the wisdom books from Job to the Song of Songs, keep in mind the following
1) The main events of the unit: The wise instruct the people of Israel.
2) Yahweh’s attributes that stand out: The fear He inspires, which is the beginning of wisdom
3) Yahweh’s main work: Teaching His people to fear Him and living daily life in accordance with the principles of the Law
4) The main participants: Job, Solomon and others who are instructing the people of Israel
5) The main reference to Jesus Christ and the gospel: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin
has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another (Job 19:25-27).
Key observations: For some of us, the change from reading historical narratives to reading the general principles and poetry of the wisdom books is rather difficult. It can help us if we remember:
1) The wisdom books are not divorced from the rest of the Bible. They teach how to apply the principles of the Law to daily life. Since they emphasize daily life, they teach with few references to the temple and its rituals, the covenant, the kings and the prophets. That does not mean these people and things have lost their importance, only that the wisdom books try to teach everyone, even those who aren’t Levites, who live outside Jerusalem and who don’t have regular contact with the royal house and prophets. If we remember their relationship with the Law, we can read the wisdom books in the context of the rest of the Bible.
It helps to see the structure of each book. The book of Job has little narrative; basically it is a conversation among three people followed by the discourse of a young man and of another by Yahweh. Proverbs has a structure at the level of individual verses and also across chapters. Ecclesiastes makes sense if we keep in mind the book as a whole. The Song of Songs is a love song between a husband and wife supported by a chorus. We won’t get lost in the details if we keep our bearings with the structure of each book as a whole.