“All Who Hate [Wisdom] Love Death.” Proverbs 8:36

I Grew Tall like a Cedar in Lebanon

When I first studied the Wisdom literature of the bible I was so caught up in the joy and delight of the second half of this passage where Lady Wisdom speaks of her role in creation that I didn’t really get how serious and important this message found in the first half is. In fact, I thought it was a bit much to say that anyone who hated wisdom loved death.

But today I understand.

Why is this message so important today? The “hatred” of wisdom is prevalent in our society. Those who don’t listen to the words of the scientists who tell us of global warming choose the death of our species and many others. Those who turn their eyes away from the lessons we learned from the Holocaust and allow our government to imprison refugees, to separate children from their parents, choose the death of refugees and of democracy in our country.  Above all, those who embrace the ugly propaganda on right wing white supremacist websites and take a gun and commit mass murder choose immediate and horrific death.

What is Wisdom?

In Proverbs she says, “Learn prudence, acquire intelligence, … take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for Wisdom is better than jewels.” (Proverbs 8:5-11) She speaks of “attaining knowledge,” and using “the paths of justice.”

What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?  “Attaining knowledge” is integral to attaining wisdom.  Wisdom has to do with what you do with your knowledge.  A wise person relates what they have learned, the knowledge they have gained, to how they should live their lives.

What does it have to do with “the paths of justice?” Those who are wise understand that without true justice in our world we will never have peace.  If we don’t choose peace, we choose death. Wisdom is knowledge that leads to justice.

Today we need to acquire knowledge about our earth, understanding the danger we have put all life in. In Sirach 24:13 a beautiful soliloquy compares Wisdom to the trees of Israel.  Trees just may be the salvation of the earth, since they filter carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

We need to learn about the other humans in our world, understanding their cultural differences and similarities, and most of all learning to love and care for them.

This means we must understand what is happening in other parts of the world, learn about wars and oppression, floods and droughts, so that we know what our neighbors are experiencing.

And, we need to understand the consequences of our own actions, of the actions of our government and of the corporations that bring riches to a few of our fellow citizens. We need to dig into the understory, the past, if we are to understand why we have so many refugees on our southern border.

Then, above all, we must act on the knowledge we acquire with a wisdom that makes a “path to justice.”

If we do this, we will have “chosen life.”

If not, Wisdom says, “All who hate me love death.”


When taking a class on Wisdom Literature, I wrote a three part piece of music, For Wisdom is Better than Jewels based on Proverbs 8 and Sirach 24 for my class project.  Wisdom’s joy as she takes part in the creation of the world infuses itself in the music giving us the hope that will help us deal with the necessity to choose “acquiring knowledge” and the “paths of justice,” choosing Life.  For information about this music go to SheetMusicPlus.com or look at the Wisdom page on www.deephum.com


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