“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,
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.
“Here is my servant!
I uphold him!
My soul delights in him.
I have put my Spirit upon him!
He will bring forth justice
To the nations.”
A whole series of scholarly debates has risen about who this servant of Yahweh is. Is it the county and people of Israel or is it an individual prophetic person? Sometimes the reference is singular as here, but is that also symbolic? There are at least 4 of these chants or songs about the servant in Second Isaiah. This oracle has Yahweh speak directly about his servant, who will be upheld by him since he is the chosen one. Yahweh’s soul delights in him. He puts his Spirit upon him. This servant of Yahweh will bring about justice to all the nations. At first take, this appears to be an individual that Yahweh really likes. Being the chosen one, however, was a term used for Israel quite often.
“The fear of the Lord is glory.
The fear of the Lord is exultation.
The fear of the Lord is gladness.
The fear of the Lord is a crown of rejoicing.
The fear of the Lord delights the heart.
The fear of the Lord gives gladness.
The fear of the Lord gives joy.
The fear of the Lord gives long life.
Those who fear the Lord will have a happy end.
On the day of their death
They will be blessed.”
The beginning of wisdom is fear of God. Just like in all the other wisdom literature, everything starts with the fear of the Lord. This fear or reverential respect for God brings glory, exultation, and gladness. There will be a crown of rejoicing that delights the heart. They would experience gladness, joy, a long life, and a happy end to life. Those who fear God will be blessed on their death. Clearly there is a hint of an afterlife.
“Crooked minds are an abomination to Yahweh.
But those of blameless ways are his delight.
The wicked will not go unpunished.
But those who are righteous will escape.
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
Is a beautiful woman
Without good sense.
The desire of the righteous
Ends only in good.
The expectation of the wicked
Ends in wrath.”
Yahweh does not like crooked minds. He delights in the blameless ones. You should not worry because the wicked will not go unpunished. The righteous, however, will escape punishment. A beautiful woman without any sense is like a gold ring in a pig’s nose. This simile is doubly stark because of the distaste of pigs and pork in the Middle East culture. The righteous will have their desires fulfilled, but the expectations of the wicked will end in disaster.
I will give thanks to Yahweh,
With my whole heart,
In the company of the upright,
In the congregation.
Great are the works of Yahweh,
Studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work.
His righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds.”
Psalm 111 is a hymn of praise to Yahweh because he has kept his covenant with Israel. Although there is no title, this fairly short acrostic or Hebrew alphabet psalm has a letter for every line. Like the next 2 psalms, it starts with the refrain “Praise Yahweh” or the Alleluia cry, which is the Hebrew word “Hallelujah.” The psalmist will give thanks to Yahweh with his whole heart at the congregational meeting. He talked about the great works of Yahweh that delights those who study them. Yahweh is full of honor and majesty in his work. Of course, his righteousness lasts forever because he has become well known by his wonderful actions.
“Our steps are made firm
He delights in our way.
Though we stumble,
We shall not fall headlong.
Yahweh holds us by the hand.”
Yahweh helps us to walk. He delights in how we go on our way. Even though we might stumble, we do not fall down headlong because Yahweh is holding us with his hand. What a delightful thought that our every step depends on God.
“A Miktam of David.
In you I take refuge.
I say to Yahweh.
‘You are my Lord!
I have no good apart from you.’
As for the holy ones in the land,
They are the noble ones,
In whom is all my delight.”
Psalm 16 is a little longer psalm of personal faith in Yahweh. This is called a Miktam of David. Psalms 56-60 also have this title. It may refer to a wind instrument or a cymbal or tambourine. The Hebrew meaning of Miktam is uncertain. The psalmist or David asks God to preserve him. He takes his refuge in Yahweh, who is his lord. There is nothing good apart from God. The English language unites good and god with just a simple “o” difference. The psalmist delights only in the holy ones, the noble ones who live in the holy land.
“If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired. If it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. Just as it is harmful to drink wine alone or to drink water alone, but wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious. It enhances one’s enjoyment. So also I hope the style of this story delights the ears of those who read the work. Here will be the end.”
This biblical author is somewhat apologetic for not writing a better book. This was rare and even rarer today. If you like it fine, but otherwise it was the best that I could do, a rare hint of humility. It was the custom to read aloud even when reading alone because so few people had books anyway. Thus the hearing of the story is so important. The illusion to wine and water may be an attempt to speak about the Greek language of his work. Despite the opposition to Hellenization, the book was written not in Hebrew, but in Greek. Nevertheless, a little Hebrew water would add to the taste and enjoyment of all.