And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament…
The idea contained in this verse is that the reward of wisdom corresponds to the nature of the ends that are sought.
I. WISDOM IN ITS ESSENCE.
1. Wisdom has a wide horizon; therefore its reward is wide as the firmament. We are placed on earth, but we have not the contracted horizon that other creatures on earth have. We are like those who study the stars; earth is only the station from which we look out to the Infinite. In looking away from self to God, we can feel free and joyous in a boundless scope which is given to our life. And wisdom requires that we should take the whole width of horizon that there is. If we have God as our reward we can never feel shut in.
2. Wisdom has a bright horizon; therefore its reward is bright as the firmament. The great object placed before us is Christ. He is the brightness of the Father's glory. It is He who has made our horizon bright, taking away the darkness caused by our sin, and bringing forth a righteousness for us like the light. It is He who is the brightness of that world into which He has gone. We are, then, to take Him as the end of our being. Christ will be in us as the brightness of the firmament, His splendid sapphire will appear in our bodies and in our souls.
3. Wisdom has a lasting horizon; therefore its reward is lasting as the firmament. We are but of yesterday, and yet we are linked to eternity. We can plan for future years, we can look away beyond death, we can look out into the boundlessness of time. And wisdom requires that we should take in the whole extent that there is, and not a section merely. Our temptation is to think of the present, and not of what the future has to toll the present. If we look to the things which are eternal, then we are promised eternity in our reward.
II. WISDOM IN ITS AGGRESSIVE AND CONQUERING ASPECT. "He that winneth souls is wise."
1. The results of this aggressive wisdom are of the highest kind; therefore the reward is high. By nature all are turned away from righteousness, and toward sin. If we have seen what is for our own highest good, we will not see it for ourselves alone. For the end which we have in and His Kingdom embraces others as well as ourselves. Our wisdom will be directed to this, to gain men from sin to righteousness, from Satan to God. The Gospel is the wisdom of God for this end. And they are wise who can appreciate its wisdom as a means. If we are instrumental in producing results of so high a kind as this, then our reward shall be correspondingly high. They that turn men to righteousness shall he as the stars. There is no object on earth which can set forth the height of the reward. We need to turn to the sky above us.
2. It has results to individuals; therefore its reward is individual and varied as the stars. "Many." Numbers are of great consequence when so high a result is involved. Joy is in Heaven over one sinner. There is no saving in the mass; and there will be no rewarding in the mass.
3. It accomplishes lasting results; therefore its reward is as the stars for ever and ever. To turn men to righteousness is to do them lasting good. It is doing what will be felt to all eternity. Who are the star-souls? They are not necessarily the highly gifted, those who have left a name on earth. They shine out of the nebulous mass of humanity, out of the indistinguishable multitude. They shall keep their light, it shall never go out. Because Christ shines they shall shine also.
(R. Finlayson B.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.