Now that I have laid out two possible ways of understanding the connection between wisdom in D&C 10 and the wise purposes of the Book of Mormon, I’d like to analyze the language of D&C 10:43 a little further.
“I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil,” it says. What exactly does it mean to say that God’s wisdom is greater than the devil’s cunning? Does this imply that wisdom is a higher level version of cunning? Or that cunning is a lower level version of wisdom? That is, does this verse imply that wisdom a greater amount of cunning?
If we look at this through the lens of the first reading I laid out, then I think the answer would be yes. God’s wisdom amounted to his ability to see into the future, and prepare a way to work around the devil’s cunning plan. Likewise, it would seem that God’s foreknowledge gives him the upper hand in any given situation, such that God’s wisdom is always going to be greater than the devil’s cunning.
If we look at this through the lens of the alternate reading I laid out, then I think the answer would be no. If wisdom has to do with God’s faithfulness in keeping promises, then I don’t think we could say that wisdom is a greater amount of cunning. In this case, wisdom and cunning are not two points on a spectrum, but a comparison of two very different things. God’s wisdom is greater not because it is of a greater amount than the devil’s cunning, but God’s wisdom is greater because it is something on a different plane completely. We might say that my family is greater than all the gold in the world, but we wouldn’t therefore be saying that my family is finaincally worth more than all the gold in the world. Family and gold are of different natures, and the word “greater” is comparing between these different natures.
In this sense, a paraphrase of D&C 10:43 would be something like “God’s ability and desire to keep covenants is stronger than any meddling scheme the devil can come up with.”
While it’s probably obvious that I prefer the second reading, both readings provide the reader with a sense of God’s strength. Both can be reassuring in times of trial or discouragement. And both connect the Book of Mormon to events in the latter-days. The first sees God’s hand preparing the small plates for events in Joseph Smith’s life. The second sees God’s hand throughout history, fulfilling the promises he makes with his children.