One preparing to sail,
About to voyage over raging waves,
Calls upon a piece of wood
More fragile than the ship that carries him.
It was desire for gain
That planned that vessel.
Wisdom was the artisan who built it.
But it is your providence,
That steers its course.
Because you have given it a path in the sea,
A safe way through the waves.
You show that you can save it from every danger.
Thus even a person who lacks skill
May put to sea.
It is your will
That works of your wisdom
Should not be without effect.
Therefore people trust their lives
Even to the smallest piece of wood.
They pass through the billows
On a raft
So that they come safely to land.”
Apparently there was a custom to put a wooden idol on the front or the prow of the ship to protect them. Even today we see some sort of decoration on the front of ships. Obviously, this decorative idol was less firm than the whole ship. However, this author points out that it was the wisdom (σοφίᾳ) of the carpenter and the desire for gain that built the ships. God was the providence (πρόνοια) and father (πάτερ) of all who steered their course through the waves of the sea. Once again, this is a Greek philosophical and biblical concept about providence guiding the world. Thus even those who lacked skill were still protected by divine wisdom (τῆς σοφίας). People put trust in the tiniest piece of wood to guide them through rough patches on the sea.
A song of ascents, of Solomon
“Unless Yahweh builds the house,
Those who build it
Labor in vain.
Unless Yahweh guards the city,
The guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain
That you rise up early.
It is in vain
That you go late to rest.
It is in vain
To eat the bread of anxious toil.
He gives sleep to his beloved.”
Psalm 127 is another of these short pilgrimage songs or psalms sung on the way ascending to Jerusalem. However, this one has the name of Solomon since there is a little wisdom saying embedded here about God’s providence. Unless Yahweh builds the house, your work is in vain. Unless Yahweh guards your city, it is in vain to have guards watch it. You should not be anxious for your daily bread. It is in vain to rise up early to work or stay up late at night to work. Yahweh gives sleep to his beloved ones. Do not be anxious for Yahweh is the source of all things.
“O God, my God,
Hear me also, a widow!
You have done these things,
Those things that went before
And those things that followed.
You have designed the things that are now.
You have designed those things that are to come.
What you had in your mind has happened.
The things that you decided on presented themselves.
Here we are!
All your ways are prepared in advance.
Your judgment is with foreknowledge.”
Now Judith is asking for the God of her ancestors to help her, a poor widow. She trusts in the providence of God. He has controlled the past. He has designed things for the future. Whatever is in the mind of God will be done. So now here we are. What are we to do? God has prepared all in advance since he has foreknowledge of all that is to come to pass.