Wisdom Writings

Wisdom Writings

Leslie S. Rainey

Four types of minds are recognized in the Bible, which account for four kinds of literature — the priest, the poet, the prophet and the philosopher. The last mentioned gives us the literature known as the Wisdom Writings.

Professor Moulton: “Side by side with prophets defending the theocrasy, and singers taking their inspiration from the temple service, with historians compiling annals of kings, and scribes expounding the law there was a class of wise men, who had habits and forms of literature, perculiar to themselves.” The wise men were observers of life and the wisdom books are the product of their keen minds under the illumination and inspiration of the Spirit of God.

The simplest form of wisdom is the Book of Proverbs; the most elaborate form is the Book of Ecclesiastes; the most profound and philosphical is the Book of Job.

Job deals with the vexations of life. Ecclesiastes deals with the vanity of life.

Proverbs deals with the virtues and vices of life.

The Five Great Problems and Their Solutions

The central part of the Old Testament comprising the wisdom and poetical books, treats of five major problems of all ages; Job, the problem of suffering; Psalms, the problem of prayer; Proverbs, the problem of conduct; Ecclesiastes, the problem of chief good; Song of Songs, the problem of love.

The solution of these problems is found only in Christ. He suffered, He prayed, He behaved perfectly, He revealed God, and He is love.

Job — presents the problem of human suffering and shows what goes on behind the scenes.

Psalms — Disclose the enjoyment of divine communion — also, the great struggle between good and evil, with the final triumph of righteousness and praise universal to God.

Proverbs — Offers a code of ethical conduct — shows how to act in the midst of so much wickedness.

Ecclesiastes — Intimates the quest for supreme satisfaction.

Songs of Songs — Reveals the loyalty of true love.


The book of Job has been called the profoundest poem ever written. Tennyson called it, “The greatest poem whether of ancient or modern literature.” Victor Hugo called it, “The greatest product of the human mind of all ages.” Luther regarded it as “more magnificient and sublime than any other book of Scripture,” Carlyle wrote: “I call that (Job) one of the grandest things ever written with pen.”

Keyword - Trial, Key Verse - 1:9.

Author and Age of Job

The author as well as the age of the Book is unknown. Job was a real person and not the creation of a brilliant mind. The prophet Ezekiel associates him with Noah and Daniel, whereas the writer James in the New Testament links him with Elijah. There are many opinions varying in date as much as a thousand years. Some take the view Job was contemporary with Abraham, and would place the record between the eleventh and twelfth chapter of Genesis; and others would place him in the captivity or post captivity period. The essential thing of the Book is its message which is dateless, that is, it deals with the race’s oldest problem — “why do the godly suffer?”

In the study of the Book we observe the following which seem to point to the patriarchal age of Abraham.

1. The use of Musical Instruments (Job. 21:12).

2. The mention of money (Job. 42; Gen. 33:19).

3. The Name of Jehovah (Job. 12:9) — the common name being “shaddai”.

4. Job acts as priest for his sons (1:5).

5. The Book of Job does not refer to Israel, God’s nation; nor to Moses, or the Law, nor even to Abraham.

Address of Job

The theme of the Book is, “The Mystery of Suffering.” Some speak of “The Problem of Pain.” The poem teaches us that suffering is not always penal and retributive, but may be, and sometimes is, disciplinary and educative.

It is a divine treatise of the highest beauty in expression concerning the trial of Job’s life and of his implicit trust in God, and the powder of the truth of God in his life. The subject of the Book is not the conversion of a sinner, but the consecration of a saint.

As Romans is the key of the New Testament, so the Book of Job is the key to the Old Testament. Here is seen tested; sinning, suffering, seeking human help in legality, morality, philosophy; needing and receiving a revelation from God; and finally humbled, penitent, believing, restored so that the last estate is better than the first.

The Book of Job Raises And Settles:

1. Controversy between Heaven and Earth.
Satan’s sneer, “Doth Job fear God for naught” (Job 1 and 2).

2. Controversy between man and man.
Suffering of Saints (3 and 32)

3. Controversy between God and man.
Will man bow to the discipline of God’s Holy Love (38-42).

Actors in Job

1. Jehovah bending over His Servant in love.

2. The Sons of God rejoicing in His work.

3. The lying spirit slandering the brethren.

4. Job the saint in the furnace.

5. The three friends represent well meaning short sighted brethren (1 Cor. 3).

6. Elihu — A better taught minister of comfort views the affliction of Job from an educative standpoint.

7. Job’s wife — The voice of natural affection.

Appraisal of Job

1. Poetical and philosophical value — in its discussion of the underlying meaning of life as a whole.

2. Scientific value — in its observation of nature. In one chapter the following are mentioned: Gold, silver, iron, brass, sapphires, onyx, topaz, pearls, crystal, rubies, wind, rain, thunder, lightening, fire, floods, darkness, light, Heaven, earth, rivers, mountains and bread (Job. 28).

3. Prophetical value — how authoritative, even though hoary with age (Job. 19:25).

4. Rhetorical value — in its style of speech.

5. Historical value — in its references to places, people and customs.

6. Spiritual value — in its revelation of God’s providential dealing with His own, and of another world and superhuman beings.

7. Practical value — in its teaching on fearing and trusting in God.

8. Biographical value — seven actors on the stage of Scripture. It is marvellous in its delineation of character.

9. Literary value — in its language, style and message.


I. The Affliction of Job (1-2)

(a) The Character and Circumstances of Job (1:1-5)

(b) The Challenge of Satan (1:612)

(c) The Conduct of Job (1:13-22)

(d) The Second Challenge (2:1-6)

(e) The Conduct of Job (2:7-10)

(f) The Coming and Conduct of Job’s Friends (2:11-13).

II. The Arguments of the Friends of Job (3-37)

(a) First Cycle (4-14) Eliphaz (4-5). — Job (6-7). Bildad (8). — Job (9-10). Zophar (11). — Job. (12-14).

(b) Second Cycle (15:21). Eliphaz (15) — Job. (16-17). Bildand (18) — Job. (19). Zophas (20) — Job. (21).

Third Cycle (22-31). Eliphaz (22). — Job. (23-25). Bildad (25). — Job. (26-27). Zophas (27:11 - 28:28). — Job


III. The Address of Elihu (32-37).

(a) Nature of Affliction — (32-35).

(b) Nature of God — (36-37).

IV. The Admonition of the Almighty (38-42).

(a) Revelation of Glory — (38-39).

(b) Revelation of Greatness —(40-42:6).

V. The Appendix or Epilogue (40:7-17).

(a) Jehovah’s Wrath and Witness — (42:7-9).

(b) Job’s Prayer and Prosperity — (42:10-17).