The useless tongue (Sir 37:16-37:21)

“Discussion

Is at the beginning of every work.

Counsel precedes every undertaking.

The mind

Is the root of all conduct.

It sprouts four branches,

Good and evil,

Life and death.

The tongue continually rules them.

Some people may be

Clever enough to teach many.

Yet they may be

Useless to themselves.

A skilful speaker may be hated.

He will be destitute of all food.

The Lord has withheld

The gift of charm.

He is lacking in all wisdom.”

Sirach points out that some discussion precedes all actions. Thus counsel and advice precede any undertaking. The mind is the source of all conduct. There are 4 branches to the mind, good, evil, life, and death. This is hard to figure out. I am not sure how the mind controls life and death, except spiritually. Good and evil are easy to see. The tongue rules over all 4 branches. Once again, it is hard to see how the tongue controls life and death other than in a spiritual way. Some people are clever enough to teach others, but not worth much to themselves. You can be a skilled but hated speaker, so that you might end up with not much food. The Lord may have withheld charm from this speaker, since he is lacking in wisdom.

The importance of travel (Sir 34:9-34:13)

“A traveled educated person

Knows many things.

One with much experience

Knows what he is talking about.

An inexperienced person

Knows few things.

But he that has traveled

Acquires much cleverness.

I have seen many things

In my travels.

I understand more

Than I can express.

I have often been

In danger of death.

But I have escaped

Because of these experiences.”

Sirach points out the importance of travel for knowledge. The educated well traveled person knows many things. From his experiences, he knows what he is talking about. An inexperienced person only knows a few things. The well traveled person is clever. Then Sirach once again got personal as he said that he had seen many things in his travels. Thus he understands more than he can tell others. He was in danger of death, but he escaped because his experiences helped him out of those situations.

The wise ones (Sir 21:11-21:13)

“Whoever keeps the law

Controls his thoughts.

Wisdom is the fulfillment

Of the fear of the Lord.

The one who is not clever

Cannot be taught.

But there is cleverness

That increases bitterness.

The knowledge of the wise

Will increase like a flood.

Their counsel is

Like a life-giving spring.”

If you keep the law, you will control your thoughts. Wisdom completes those who fear the Lord. If you are not clever, you cannot be taught. Yet there is cleverness that increases bitterness. The knowledge of the wise people increases like a flood. Their counsel is like a refreshing spring of water that saves lives.

Apprenticeship of wisdom (Sir 6:32-6:37)

“If you are willing,

My child,

You can be disciplined.

If you apply yourself.

You will become clever.

If you love to listen,

You will pay attention,

You will become wise.

Stand in the assembly of the elders.

Who is wise?

Attach yourself to such a one.

Be ready to listen to every godly discourse.

Let no wise proverbs escape you.

If you see an intelligent person,

Rise early.

Visit him.

Let your foot wear out his doorstep.

Reflect on the statutes of the Lord.

Meditate at all times on his commandments.

It is he who will give insight to your mind.

Your desire for wisdom will be granted.”

Sirach now gives clear directions on how to be wise. You must go through an apprenticeship, just like a Trump apprentice. However, here it is the wisdom apprentice. If you are willing and disciplined, you can become clever and wise. You have to apply yourself and listen attentively. You should stand in the assembly of the elders. You should attach yourself to an intelligent person who has a godly discourse and wise proverbs. You should rise early. Go wear out his doorstep with your many visits to this wise man. If you reflect on the statutes of the Lord and meditate on his commandments, you will gain insight. Wisdom will be granted to you after your time of trial.

Riches (Prov 22:1-22:4)

“A good name is to be chosen

Rather than great riches.

Favor is better than silver or gold.

The rich and the poor have this in common.

Yahweh is the maker of them all.

The clever see danger.

They hide.

But the simple go on.

They suffer for it.

The reward for humility is

Riches,

Honor,

Life.

The reward for fear of Yahweh is

Riches,

Honor,

Life.”

Interesting enough, a good name is better than riches. But then these proverbs go on to explain that richness and wealth is a reward for a good life. Favor with God is better than gold and silver. Both the rich and the poor have one thing in common. God made both of them. Now the clever or prudent ones see danger and they hide. However, the simple ones see the same danger, but they keep going on. Thus they suffer this danger. If you are humble, you will have a life of riches and honor. The same goes for those who fear Yahweh. They too will have a rich and honorable life.

The perverse simple fools (Prov 14:14-14:19)

“The perverse get what their ways deserve.

The good get what their deeds deserve.

The simple believes everything.

But the clever consider their steps.

The wise are cautious.

They turn away from evil.

But the fool throws off restraint.

The fool is careless.

One who is quick tempered

Acts foolishly.

The schemer is hated.

The simple are adorned with folly.

But the clever are crowned with knowledge.

The evil bow down before the good.

The wicked are at the gates of the righteous.”

Both the perverse and the good get what they deserve based on their ways and deeds. The simple believe everything, but the clever ones watch their steps. The wise clever ones are cautious. They turn away from evil. The foolish ones throw off restraint and are careless. As usual, it is better to be good and wise than a simple perverse fool. The quick tempered ones act foolishly. The schemers are hated. The simple ones are full of folly, but the clever ones are crowned with knowledge. The evil wicked ones bow down before the gates of the good and righteous ones.

Lies (Prov 14:5-14:8)

“A faithful witness does not lie.

But a false witness breathes out lies.

A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain.

But knowledge is easy for one who understands.

Leave the presence of a fool.

There you do not find words of knowledge.

It is the wisdom of the clever

To understand where they go.

But the folly of fools misleads.”

The problem of lying appears often. The faithful witness does not lie. However, the false witnesses breathe out lies without even thinking about it. The scoffer cynic will seek wisdom in vain. Knowledge, on the other hand, is easy for those people who understand what is going on. Stay away from fools because they do not have words of knowledge. The clever ones have wisdom so that they understand where they are going, but the folly of the fools will mislead you down the wrong path.