In several places in the Book of Mormon, authors pause to explain why they are writing their book. Sometimes they seem to be confident about why they are writing, and other times, they admit that God has something planned that they don’t fully understand. Nephi and Mormon call these unknown plans “wise purposes.”
In the Doctrine and Covenants, God pauses to explain to Joseph the wisdom of bringing forth the Nephite plates. This is especially true in D&C 3 and D&C 10, where God is upbraiding Joseph for the loss of the 116 pages. Despite the tragedy, God has a plan to move forward. As God explains his plan, he says, “I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.”
The words “wise purposes” from the Book of Mormon, and the words “my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil” from the D&C are often brought into relationship to explain each other. Today I will start by reviewing that standard reading, using the scriptures most often cited in those discussions. Second, I will suggest an alternative reading of these same verses. Third, I will look at how each of these readings offers a different interpretation of how God’s wisdom is greater than the devil’s cunning.