To set it in its context, the writer is dealing with the foolish worship of idols, such as those made of wood, which are no more than the product of a man’s hands. He contrasts this with the natural properties of the wood, and with the skill that fashions it into something beneficial: in this instance, into a ship. The natural properties, and the human skill, are both genuine expressions of God’s wisdom,
but it is your providence, O Father, that steers its course,
because you have given it a path in the sea,
and a safe way through the waves,
showing that you can save from every danger,
so that even if a man lacks skill, he may put to sea.
It is your will that works of your wisdom should not be without effect;
therefore men trust their lives even to the smallest piece of wood,
and passing through the billows on a raft they come safely to land.
For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing,
the hope of the world took refuge on a raft,
and guided by your hand left to the world the seed of a new generation.
For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.