In this section of the book, Carson first focuses on Biblical wisdom literature. He points out that Psalm 1 is called a “wisdom psalm” because it shows us that there are only two paths to walk on in this life. There’s the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The former will be remembered, the latter forgotten. There’s no “third way” by which to live (c.f., Mt. 7:24-29). Wisdom literature demonstrates the polarity’s of life (a notion utterly denied by pantheistic monism). There’s the way of the wise, and the way of the fool. There are only two ways, not a third.
These polarities in wisdom literature have two qualities: they are absolute and they establish parameters by which to live, an actual border for life. We either live for the self-existent holy Creator God, or for the needy, unholy creature man.
Secondly, Carson admits the scary reality that we neither always live as lovers of God nor always walk in His ways. Often we act like the wicked indeed (e.g., King David). The truth about us is that often the counsel of the wicked sounds really good, the Law of the Lord is not our delight. Jesus also emphasized the realities of two roads, two gates, and only two ways to live (Mt. 7: 24-29). This accentuates the holy from the unholy, the righteous from the wicked, and while it clarifies for us this state of affairs, it cannot save us.
Carson then considers the fool as illustrative of the bent of those who lack wisdom. The reason those who deny Gods’ existence are considered fools (Ps. 14:1), is because the God who is there has disclosed Himself in nature and in the Scriptures (see Rom. 1:18-22). They are fools because they deny the obvious. They and we, are without excuse and yet, the denials persist which disclose how deep humanity’s corruption goes, and how desperately we need God’s amazing grace.
Thirdly, David is used as an example of how man’s foolishness must be dealt with, “Against you only have I sinned” David says to God in (Ps. 51:4). But how does this make sense in light of the fact that he sinned against other people? Carson affirms that David understood that his sin was ultimately and most importantly, treason against His Maker. It’s not that he didn’t think that he was not guilty before the people, he was and knew it. But, he was so in touch with his offense toward the Holy One of Israel. The fact is that what makes sin so heinous is that it defies God. To defy the One who made us and will judge us on the last day is utterly absurd.
Fourthly, Carson considers the life of Job to provide an answer to the problem of innocent suffering. But the humility that follows is noteworthy. The innocent do suffer and in the most extreme cases, they are to trust in the person of the God who is there. In the end Job is a microcosm of what’s forthcoming in the end—wrongs will be righted, and the Just judge will set things right. This too is wisdom.
Ecclesiastes warns us that we will all face God and give an account of our lives; we must all face Him in the end. Its “good news” in the sense that we are directed to focus on what really matters—living for God. That is, our ultimate pursuit in life must be to fear God and keep His commandments—because in the end, nothing else will matter.
Lastly, Carson considers how we are to live in light of coming judgment. Judgment—the first doctrine in Genesis 3 revealed, is denied by many professing Christians. Death approaches, and it is death we in our culture strain at avoiding, sanitizing, we speak of Sister Sue “passing away” or she’s “gone”. We can’t bear to say that she is “Dead.”
When we die, regardless of the cause, the ultimate reality is that we stop breathing. There’s no life in us anymore. We’re separated from; our body, our loved ones and the life we once knew. Now we must face God. This is sobering. (SDG)