The Message and Themes of the Writings

THE MESSAGE OF THE WRITINGS

The wisdom books represent or account for the shift in fashion from the historical books which follow them. They fall into the category of Ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature, a kind or genre of writings that centralizes or focuses on the existential interrogations about God, humanity, creation, and the nature of evil and suffering. They take the form of short, memorable insights as in the book of Proverbs or dialogue as in the book of Job, where Job, Job’s friends, and God are engaged in a conversation that teaches and enlightens the audience. In conclusion, the message of the writings or wisdom books focuses on the existential questions about the existence of God, humanity, creation, and the nature of evil and suffering.

THE THEMES OF THE WRITINGS

RUTH

The theme of Ruth indicates God’s guidance and provision in meeting the physical needs of his faithful people and providing the theocratic rule of the Davidic dynasty (Yamauchi, pp. 305). It points out the significance of the faithful love in human relationship among God’s kingdom people. It focuses on Ruth’s selfless devotion to Naomi and Boaz’s kindness to the two widows. Being devoted to a cost and showing kindness to the needy is the act of acting on God’s wisdom. The care for the orphans, widows, and others is the act of practicing true religion as mentioned in James. The practice of true religion is the act of practicing wisdom.

JOB

The theme of Job is the basis for a genuine relationship between God and man and the sovereign grace of God and man’s response of faith and submissive trust. God is above all things and we men are limited in time and space. Why question God when we cannot comprehend his doings and sovereign powers which are at work in situation seemed dilemmas to us? This is exactly seemed in the book of Job concerning Job’s plight at the time. Every problem face by human being, God has an answer to such problem. We must apply our hearts to wisdom. Rau writes, “One of the most famous characters in the Bible, Job is the archetype of the “suffering saint”—a God-fearing man who experiences terrible trials and sufferings, and calls out to God for an explanation. The book does not offer an easy or simplistic answer to the problem of suffering, but finds solace in God’s sovereignty” (Tour of the Bible, Part 3: the Wisdom Books).

PSALMS

The theme of Psalm is about the great king, mankind, and the relationship which exists between the two. Yamauchi states that God is the most prominent figure in Psalter. The entire Psalm describes Him or humanity in relationship to Him. He is the supreme King, sovereign over all (pp.522). In the book Psalms, we see the dialogue between man and God in the form of lament, prayer, or praise. We are his creatures and his handiwork. We are obligated to ascribe praise and worship only to him and him alone. Rau writes, “An oft-quoted collection of prayers, songs, and poetry, many of them written by King David. The psalms cover almost the entirety of human emotion, including praise, doubt, repentance, and joy. Almost everyone who’s read the Psalms can point to at least one or two that stood out as “favorites,” but Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd…”) is one of the most recognizable” (Tour of the Bible, Part 3: the Wisdom Books).

PROVERBS

The theme of Proverbs focuses on the fear of the Lord which initiates wisdom. It centers on messages on how to gain wisdom by paying attention to the father’s instruction. Reading the book of Proverbs on the periodic basis opens one’s eye to wisdom and understanding provided practical applications are made through obedience. Rau writes, “What does a wisely-lived life look like? Through hundreds of short pieces of insight, the book of Proverbs distinguishes wisdom from foolishness. Like the other wisdom books, Proverbs employs several interesting rhetorical techniques; most notably parallelism in which two phrases are matched or contrasted.” The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”(Tour of the Bible, Part 3: the Wisdom Books).

ECCLESIASTES

The theme of Ecclesiastes is that it puts powers of wisdom to work to examine the human experience and assesses the human situation. Such statement such as “there is time for everything under the sun” indicates and calls for human being to be patient, self-control, and does not run ahead of God’s timing. Everything which happens under the sun has a reason of happening; in this light, we as human needs to get closed to God. The whole duty of man under the sun is to fear God and to keep his commandments. Rau writes that Ecclesiastes is a challenging book that can seem out-of-place in the Bible—it’s an extended reflection on the meaning of life that sometimes feels fatalistic and cynical, as exemplified in its famous stanzas:”‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” Nevertheless, its message is ultimately the positive one that living in obedience to God provides grounding for human life (Tour of the Bible, Part 3: the Wisdom Books).

SONG OF SONGS

The theme of the Song of Songs is best understood as a commentary on the establishment of the marriage in Genesis chapter 1 to 2. It takes a corrective measure against sexual perversity and further explains that sex was created and it is not evil when enjoyed within the confines God has established it. The importance of getting married before having sex is indicated in this book. Sexual impurities such as fornication, adultery, and incest before God must be avoided. Rau writes, “Another unique book, Song of Songs is a poetic dialogue about love, celebrating marriage and the gift of sexuality. Many Christians also find in it an allegorical message about the love of Christ for His church” (Tour of the Bible, Part 3: the Wisdom Books).

LAMENTATIONS

The theme of the book of Lamentations records the pathos and pain which took place at the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BC (2 Kings 24-25) (Yamauchi, pp. 556). The five poems in Lamentations address the tragic downfall of the city. The fall of the city was due to Israel’s sin as God carried out his judgment on his people. Their laments are recorded in Lamentations. Living peacefully with God in total obedience to his commandment is the step for lasting peace, protection from enemy’s attack, provision of necessary needs we desire, and many others.