The true boasting in glory (Jer 9:23-9:24)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Do not let the wise

Boast in their wisdom!

Do not let the mighty

Boast in their might!

Do not let not the wealthy

Boast in their wealth!

But let those who boast,

Boast in this!

They understand me.

They know me.

I am Yahweh.

I act with steadfast love.

I act with justice.

I act with righteousness in the earth.

In these things,

I delight.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh warns, via Jeremiah, that the wise should not boast in their wisdom. The mighty should not boast in their might. The wealthy should not boast in their wealth. If they want to boast it should be in understanding and knowing Yahweh. He should be their boast, because he acts with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness. Yahweh delights in those things.

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The return to Yahweh (Jer 4:1-4:2)

“‘If you return!

O Israel!’

Says Yahweh.

‘If you return to me!

If you remove your abominations

From my presence!

If you do not waver!

If you swear!

‘As Yahweh lives!’

In truth,

In justice,

In uprightness,

Then nations shall be blessed

By him.

They shall boast

By him.’”

Would Israel return to Yahweh? Yahweh sets down some conditions. They would have to remove their abomination idol statues from his presence. They would have to not waver. They had to swear that Yahweh lives. If this was done in truth, justice, and uprightness, then the nations would be blessed by him. Then they could boast in Yahweh.

Yahweh and the defeat of Egypt and Ethiopia (Isa 20:3-20:5)

“Yahweh said.

‘Just as my servant Isaiah

Has walked naked and barefoot

For three years,

As a sign against Egypt,

As a portent against Ethiopia,

So shall the king of Assyria

Lead away the Egyptians as captives.

The Ethiopians also will be exiles,

Both the young and the old,

The naked and the barefoot,

With buttocks uncovered,

To the shame of Egypt.

They shall be dismayed.

They shall be confounded

Because of Ethiopia,

Their hope,

As well as Egypt

Their boast.’”

Now we have the oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah had been naked for 3 years, as a sign against Egypt and Ethiopia. Now, the Assyrian king would capture Egypt and Ethiopia. They will be lead away as captives and exiles. No one will be saved. The young and the old will all be captured naked and barefooted. Thus the symbolism of Isaiah will actually happen to the Egyptians and Ethiopians as their naked butts will bring them shame. They will be dismayed and confused. Their hope and their boast about Egypt and Ethiopia will come to an end.

The blessed rich person (Sir 31:8-31:11)

“Blessed is the rich person

Who is found blameless!

He does not go after gold.

Who is he?

We may praise him.

He has done wonders

Among his people.

Who has been tested by it?

Who has been found perfect?

Let it be for him

A ground for boasting.

Who has had the power

To transgress?

Yet he did not transgress.

Who has the power

To do evil?

Yet he did not do it.

His prosperity will be established.

The assembly will proclaim

His acts of charity.”

A rich person can be blessed, if he is if found blameless by not going after gold. Who is this person? Can we find him, so that we can praise him? He has done wonders among his people. He was tested and found perfect, so that now he can boast. He had the power to commit sins, but he did not. He had the power to do evil, but he did not. His prosperity will be established. The assembly will proclaim his acts of charity. Thus Sirach has found the good rich person.

Discipline of a son (Sir 30:1-30:3)

“He who loves his son

Will whip him often.

Thus he may rejoice

At the way he turns out.

He who disciplines his son,

Will profit by him.

He will boast of him

Among acquaintances.

He who teaches his son

Will make his enemies envious.

He will glory in him

In the presence of friends.”

Sirach says that if you love your son, you will whip him often. This is the spare the rod spoils the son idea, since there is no rejection of corporal punishment. Then you will rejoice when you see how your son has turned out. You will have a great reward, if you discipline your son. You will be able to boast about him among your acquaintances. If you teach your son, your enemies will be envious. You will also be able to glorify your son in the presence of your friends. There is this constant problem of friends and enemies.

The value of old people (Sir 25:3-25:6)

“If you have gathered nothing

In your youth,

How can you find anything

In your old age?

How attractive is sound judgment

In gray-haired people?

The aged possess good counsel.

How attractive is wisdom

In the aged?

There is understanding

In the venerable people.

There is counsel

In honorable persons.

Rich experience

Is the crown of the aged.

Their boast

Is the fear of the Lord.”

If you have not gathered anything in your youth, you might have a hard time in your old age. However, sound judgment is attractive in gray-haired people. The aged have good counsel. Wisdom, understanding, and counsel make old people attractive and honorable. The crown of the aged old folks is the rich experience of their life. They can boast in their fear of the Lord.

Do not judge on appearances (Sir 11:2-11:4)

“Do not praise individuals

For their good looks!

Do not loathe anyone

Because of appearance alone.

The bee is small

Among flying creatures.

But what it produces

Is the best of sweet things.

Do not boast

About wearing fine clothes!

Do not exalt yourself

When you are honored.

The works of the Lord

Are wonderful.

His works

Are concealed from humankind.”

You should not praise people because of their good looks. On the other hand, you should not hate anyone based on their appearances alone. Take the small bee, for example. This small flying creature produces honey, the sweetest of all things. There was a premium on honey in ancient times. You should not boast about wearing fine clothes. Do not exalt yourself when you are honored. The works of the Lord are wonderful, but he has concealed them from most humans.