The punishment for the unrighteous (Wis 14:30-14:31)

“But just penalties

Will overtake them on two counts.

They thought wrongly

About God,

In devoting themselves to idols.

In deceit,

They swore unrighteously

Through contempt for holiness.

It is not the power of the things

By which people swear,

But the just penalty

For those who sin,

That always pursues the transgression

Of the unrighteous.”

These idol worshipers will be penalized for doing two evil things. First, they thought wrongly about God (περὶ Θεοῦ) in devoting themselves to idols (προσχόντες εἰδώλοις). Second, they swore unrighteously (ἀδίκως ὤμοσαν ἐν δόλῳ) in contempt of holy things. They will receive a just penalty for their sins, as these are the transgressions of the unrighteous (ἀδίκων).

The death of the unjust (Wis 4:16-4:19)

“The righteous that have died

Will condemn the ungodly that are living.

Youth that is quickly perfected

Will condemn the prolonged old age of the unrighteous.

They will see the end of the wise.

They will not understand

What the Lord purposed for them.

He kept them safe.

The unrighteous will see.

They will have contempt for them.

But the Lord will laugh them to scorn.

After this,

They will become dishonored corpses.

They are an outrage among the dead forever.

He will dash them speechless to the ground.

He will shake them from the foundations.

They will be left utterly dry.

They will be left barren.

They will suffer anguish.

Their memory will perish.”

The righteous (δίκαιος), when they die, condemn the living ungodly ones (ἀσεβεῖς). The perfected youth of the righteous is better than the old age of the unrighteous. The righteous understood the Lord’s purpose. The unrighteous have contempt for the righteous, but the Lord will laugh (ὁ Κύριος ἐκγελάσεται) at the unrighteous in scorn, after they have become dishonored corpses. The Lord will strike them speechless on the ground. They will be left dry, barren, and in anguish as their memory will be wiped out.

The fool (Prov 18:1-18:3)

“Whoever lives alone is self-indulgent.

He shows contempt for all who have sound judgment.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding.

He only wants to express his own personal opinion.

When wickedness comes,

Contempt comes also.

With dishonor comes disgrace.”

The fool does not take any pleasure in understanding. He only wants to hear his own personal opinion expressed to others. If you live alone, you are self-indulgent since you show contempt for any other person with a sound judgment other than your own. When wickedness comes, contempt comes with it. With dishonor comes disgrace. The fool seems to be a loner who is worried about his own opinions.

The need for mercy (Ps 123:3-123:4)

“Have mercy upon us!

Yahweh!

Have mercy upon us!

We have had more than enough of contempt.

Our soul has more than its fill

Of the scorn of those

Who are at ease.

Our soul has more than its fill

Of the contempt of the proud.”

This short 4 verse psalm comes to an end with a cry for mercy to Yahweh. They have had enough of contempt and scorn from those who are proud and have an easy life. Their souls are full of disdain from these proud and easy going people. There is the repeated cry to have mercy on them.

Yahweh helped the weak (Ps 107:39-107:43)

“When they are diminished,

When they are brought low,

Through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,

He pours contempt upon the princes.

He makes them wander in trackless wastes.

However he raises up the needy out of distress.

He makes their families like flocks.

The upright see it.

They are glad.

All the wickedness keeps its mouth shut.

Let those who are wise,

Give heed to these things.

Let them

Consider the steadfast love of Yahweh.”

This psalm ends with something that looks like it was added on. All of a sudden there are princes that are brought low and diminished with oppression, trouble, and sorrow. Yahweh had contempt for the princes wandering in some waste land. On the other hand, he raised up the needy or the poor out of their distress. He made them fruitful like flocks of birds. The upright, those with a right heart, were glad because wickedness never came out of their mouth. The wise person paid attention to these things. They always remembered the steadfast love of Yahweh.

David trusts Yahweh (Ps 31:14-31:18)

“But I trust in you!

Yahweh!

I say.

‘You are my God.’

My times are in your hand.

Deliver me

From the hand of my enemies!

Deliver me

From the hand of my persecutors!

Let your face shine on your servant!

Save me in your steadfast love!

Do not let me be put to shame!

Yahweh!

I call on you!

Let the wicked be put to shame!

Let them go dumbfounded to Sheol!

Let those who speak insolently

Against the righteous,

With pride and contempt,

May their lying lips be stilled!”

David trusted in Yahweh. Truly Yahweh was his God. He had full confidence in him. He placed his life in the hands of God. He hoped that he would be delivered from the hands of his enemies and persecutors. He wanted Yahweh’s face to shine on him to give him light. He wanted Yahweh to act out of his steadfast love and not put him to shame.   Instead he wanted the wicked to be put to shame. He wanted them to go dumbfounded into Sheol, the underworld of death. He wanted their lying lips stilled. He wanted those who had spoken insolently against the righteous ones with pride and contempt to be quiet. David wanted the tables turned on his enemies because he trusted in Yahweh.

The mother appeals to her youngest son (2 Macc 7:24-7:29)

“King Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt. He was suspicious of her reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, King Antiochus not only appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors. He would take him for his friend and entrust him with public affairs. Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him. He urged her to advise the youth to save himself. After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son. But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native language as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant.

‘My son,

Have pity on me.

I carried you nine months in my womb.

I nursed you for three years.

I have reared you.

I have brought you up to this point in your life.

I have taken care of you.

I beg you,

My child,

To look at the heaven and the earth.

See everything that is in them!

Recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed.

In the same way,

The human race came into being.

Do not fear this butcher!

Prove worthy of your brothers!

Accept death!

So that in God’s mercy

I may get you back again with your brothers.’”

King Antiochus IV was upset at the way things were going. As there was only 1 son left, he urged him to give up his traditional ways. He promised to make him rich and powerful in his kingdom. The son would not listen. Then the king urged the mother to try and convince her son to save his life. Instead she urged him on to resist the king. In a moving passage, she spoke about carrying him for 9 months, nursing him for 3 years, and then bringing him up. Now she wanted him to recognize the creator God in heaven who made the human race. She wanted him to be worthy of his brothers. She wanted him to accept death so that God’s mercy would bring him back to his brothers. These seven sons were like suicide bombers willing to die for the laws of their God. The theology of creation and the afterlife predominated in their views of the ancestral laws. Notice that she spoke in their native language.

Lamenting the citadel in Jerusalem (1 Macc 1:36-1:40)

“The citadel became an ambush against the sanctuary.

The citadel was an evil adversary of Israel at all times.

On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood.

They even defiled the sanctuary.

Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled.

She became a dwelling of strangers.

She became strange to her offspring.

Her children forsook her.

Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert.

Her feasts were turned into mourning.

Her Sabbath turned into a reproach.

Her honor turned into contempt.

Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory.

Her exaltation was turned into mourning.”

Once again, we have the poem about the terrible situation in Jerusalem. This new Syrian citadel was an ambush to the sanctuary and an adversary to Israel. There was innocent blood everywhere. The residents of Jerusalem had fled. Only the strangers remained. The sanctuary was like a desert. The feasts were now times of mourning. The Sabbath and honor had now turned to reproach and contempt. The joy had turned to mourning.