The traceless end of the unjust (Wis 5:9-5:13)

“All those things have vanished

Like a shadow.

They have vanished

Like a rumor that passes by.

They are

Like a ship that sails through the billowy water.

When it has passed

No trace can be found.

There is no track of its keel in the waves.

When a bird flies through the air,

No evidence of its passage is found.

The light air,

Lashed by the beat of its pinions,

Pierced by the force of its rushing flight,

Is traversed

By the movement of its wings.

Afterward no sign of its coming is found there.

When an arrow is shot at a target,

The air,

Thus divided,

Comes together at once.

Thus no one knows its pathway.

So we also,

As soon as we were born,

Ceased to be.

We had no sign of virtue to show.

But we were consumed in our wickedness.”

The ungodly and unjust have disappeared like a shadow. Here now, but gone when the sun stops shining. They are like a rumor that vanishes almost instantaneously. They are like a ship going in the sea. Once it is gone, there is no way to trace its path. The same is true on the bird in the air. Once gone, you are never sure of its precise path. The same goes for an arrow shot in the air. No one can tell its path. However, today we do have technology that can trace ships, birds, and arrows. So what? These unjust ones declared that they ceased to exist the day they were born, because they had no virtue. Thus they were consumed with wickedness.

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The response of the unjust (Wis 5:3-5:8)

“They will say.

‘These are persons

Whom we once held in derision.

We made them a byword of reproach.

We were fools!

We thought that their lives were madness.

Their end was without honor.

Why have they been numbered

Among the children of God?

Why is their lot among the saints?

So it was we

Who strayed from the way of truth.

The light of righteousness did not shine on us.

The sun did not rise upon us.

We took our fill of the paths of lawlessness.

We took our fill of the paths of destruction.

We journeyed through trackless deserts.

But the way of the Lord

We have not known.

What has our arrogance profited us?

What good has our boasted wealth brought us?’”

The unjust laid out their complaint. They said that they derided and reproached these people. They thought that their lives were madness and without honor. It turns out that they are the fools, because the righteous are numbered among the sons or children of God (υἱοῖς Θεοῦ), the holy ones (ἁγίοις), not them. The unjust suddenly realized that they had strayed from the truth (ἀληθείας). The light of righteousness and the sun were not going to shine on them. They had followed the path of lawlessness and destruction through trackless deserts. They did not know the way of the Lord (ὁδὸν Κυρίου). Their arrogance and wealth became useless.

The righteous stand tall (Wis 5:1-5:3)

“Then the righteous

Will stand with great confidence

In the presence of those

Who have afflicted them.

They will stand

In the presence of those

Who make light of their labors.

When the unrighteous see them,

They will be shaken with dreadful fear.

They will be amazed

At the unexpected salvation of the righteous.

They will speak to one another

In repentance.

In anguish of spirit

They will groan.”

The righteous (δίκαιος) will stand with great confidence against those that afflicted them and made light of their labors. The unrighteous will see this. They will be shaken with a dreadful fear. They will be amazed at how the righteous are saved (σωτηρίας). They will begin to repent to one another because their spirits will be in anguish. Then they will groan.

The judgment of the unjust (Wis 4:20-4:20)

“They will come with dread

When their sins are reckoned up.

Their lawless deeds

Will convict them to their face.”

The unjust impious ones will come with dread to the judgment of God. Their sins will be reckoned against them. Their lawless deeds will convict them right to their face. This is pretty simple. The unjust lose.

The death of the unjust (Wis 4:16-4:19)

“The righteous that have died

Will condemn the ungodly that are living.

Youth that is quickly perfected

Will condemn the prolonged old age of the unrighteous.

They will see the end of the wise.

They will not understand

What the Lord purposed for them.

He kept them safe.

The unrighteous will see.

They will have contempt for them.

But the Lord will laugh them to scorn.

After this,

They will become dishonored corpses.

They are an outrage among the dead forever.

He will dash them speechless to the ground.

He will shake them from the foundations.

They will be left utterly dry.

They will be left barren.

They will suffer anguish.

Their memory will perish.”

The righteous (δίκαιος), when they die, condemn the living ungodly ones (ἀσεβεῖς). The perfected youth of the righteous is better than the old age of the unrighteous. The righteous understood the Lord’s purpose. The unrighteous have contempt for the righteous, but the Lord will laugh (ὁ Κύριος ἐκγελάσεται) at the unrighteous in scorn, after they have become dishonored corpses. The Lord will strike them speechless on the ground. They will be left dry, barren, and in anguish as their memory will be wiped out.

Premature death of the righteous (Wis 4:10-4:15)

“There were some who pleased God.

They were loved by him.

While living among sinners,

They were taken up.

They were caught up

So that evil might not change their understanding.

Thus evil guile did not deceive their souls.

The fascination of wickedness

Obscures what is good.

Roving desire perverts the innocent mind.

Being perfected in a short time,

They fulfilled long years.

Their souls were pleasing to the Lord.

Therefore he took them quickly

From the midst of wickedness.

Yet the peoples saw.

They did not understand.

They did not take such a thing to heart.

God’s grace is with his elect.

God’s mercy is with his elect.

He watches over his holy ones.”

Even those who were pleasing to God (εὐάρεστος τῷ Θεῷ) were taken up at an early age. They were living among sinners (ἁμαρτωλῶν) when they were taken up from earth. They were loved (ἠγαπήθη), so that no evil (μὴ κακία) was able to change their understanding or their souls. There is a fascination with wickedness that obscures good things. Sometimes, a roving desire perverts an innocent mind. Some people are perfect in a short time, as if they had lived many years. Thus the Lord takes them quickly. They are pleasing to him (ἀρεστὴ γὰρ ἦν Κυρίῳ). People see this, but they do not understand it or take it to heart. God’s grace and mercy is with his chosen ones (χάρις καὶ ἔλεος ἐν τοῖς ἐκλεκτοῖς) since he watches over these holy ones.

Old age (Wis 4:7-4:9)

“But the righteous,

Even though they die early,

Will be at rest.

Old age is not honored for length of time.

Old age is not measured

By the number of years.

But understanding is gray hair for anyone.

A blameless life is a ripe old age.”

Even if the righteous ones (δίκαιος) die early, they will rest. After all, old age is not honored for just the years that one has lived. However, gray hairs are a sign of understanding. A blameless life is really a ripe old age.