How is God’s wisdom different from human wisdom? Why do we sometimes think we are wiser than God, and what are the consequences?
St. Paul told the Corinthians: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile” (1 Cor 3:19-20).
To have a high opinion of our own wisdom, is but to flatter ourselves; and self-flattery is the next step to self-deceit. The wisdom that worldly men esteem, is foolishness with God. How justly does he despise, and how easily can he baffle and confound it! The thoughts of the wisest men in the world, have vanity, weakness, and folly in them. All this should teach us to be humble, and make us willing to be taught of God, so as not to be led away, by pretences to human wisdom and skill, from the simple truths revealed by Christ. Mankind are very apt to oppose the design of the mercies of God. Observe the spiritual riches of a true believer; all are yours, even ministers and sacraments. Indeed, the world itself is yours. Saints have as much of it as Infinite Wisdom sees fit for them, and they have it with the Divine blessing. Life is yours that you may have a season and opportunity to prepare for the life of heaven; and death is yours, that you may go to the possession of it. It is the kind messenger to take you from sin and sorrow, and to guide you to your Father’s house. Things present are yours, for your support on the road; things to come are yours, to delight you forever at your journey’s end. If we belong to Christ, and are true to him, all good belongs to us, and is sure to us. Believers are the subjects of His kingdom. He is Lord over us, we must accept His dominion, and cheerfully submit to His command. God in Christ, reconciling a sinful world to himself, and pouring the riches of his grace on a reconciled world, is the sum and substance of the gospel.
Eliphaz reminds Job: “He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away” (Job 5:13).
As beasts are taken in a pit, or birds in a snare or net, or with birdlime; so these crafty men, who are wise in their own opinion, and really so in things natural, civil, and worldly, or however, to do evil are entangled and taken in their own schemes; they fall into the pit they have dug for others, and are snared in the works of their own hands, as Haman and his sons were hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai, Esther 7:10; or, “by their own craftiness”, by the crafty schemes they themselves have formed: so sometimes those very things crafty men design to prevent, are brought about by the very means they make use of; thus Joseph’s brethren designed to prevent the accomplishment of his dreams, which portended their subjection to him, Genesis 37:9, by selling him to the Ishmaelites, who carried him to Egypt, where, in process of time, he was made governor of the land, and where his brethren became obedient to him, Genesis 42:6; with which fact Eliphaz might be acquainted, it being not long before his time: so the Jews, to prevent the Romans taking away their city and nation, contrived to put Christ to death, and did, whereby they brought the wrath of God upon them, executed by those very persons; the same they did also, to prevent the spread of his fame and glory in the world, and that he might not be believed on as the Saviour of men, whereas, hereby he became the Saviour of them; and he a crucified Christ, being preached to the world by his ministers, the savour of his knowledge has been diffused in every place, his glory great in all the earth, and will be more so: the Targum applies this to the wise men of Pharaoh, and the Apostle Paul to the Jewish doctors and wise philosophers of the Gentiles, 1 Corinthians 3:19.
The counsel or well contrived schemes of the crafty and wise before mentioned, who twist and wind about, as the word here used signifies, that there is no tracing their measures, and finding out the spring of them, nor the ends they have in view; yet these are sometimes carried on to execution in a rash and precipitate manner, and so miscarry; and like a man that is had to a precipice, and is thrown down from thence, and is destroyed at once, so are their counsels and schemes dashed to pieces by the providence of God: or, “is hastened”; too much haste is made to accomplish it, and so it comes to nought, through an over eagerness to have it done at once; not waiting a fit opportunity for the accomplishment of it.
Those who injure others are often the greatest sufferers. “Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin” (Proverbs 26:23-28).
The wasp’s sting is provided with a barb, and when he feels particularly vicious, and drives the sting into the flesh, it becomes so firmly embedded that the only way for him to escape is to leave the sting behind. This, however, is sure to cause his death. He receives himself such a wound that he cannot recover. We sometimes forget that when we hurt others by stinging words and treacherous acts, we ourselves, in the long run, are generally the greatest sufferers.
Let us pray that the Lord may grant us true insight and wisdom that we may always live within His ever holy will with the song “In Perfect Charity”: