A poem in search of wisdom (Sir 51:21-51:25)

“While I was still young,

Before I went on my travels,

I sought wisdom openly

In my prayer.

Before the temple

I asked for her.

I will search for her

Until the end.

From the first blossom

To the ripening grape,

My heart delighted in her.

My foot walked

On the straight path.

From my youth,

I followed her steps.

I inclined my ear a little.

I received her.

I found for myself much instruction.

I made progress in her.

To him who gives wisdom

I will give glory.”

This appendix about wisdom is a Hebrew alphabetic or acrostic poem, like the ending of Proverbs, chapter 31. It follows the hymn to God’s mercy, but had the same numbers so I changed them. This author or Sirach was searching for wisdom since his youth, even before he started traveling. He prayed for wisdom in the Temple. He would continue to search her out until the end of his life. Just as you watch a blossom grow into a grape, he too grew in wisdom and enjoyed every minute of it. He always walked on the straight paths, following in her footsteps. He listened to all the instructions about wisdom as he progressed. Thus he can now give glory to the one who gave him wisdom.

Judgment day (Sir 11:23-11:28)

“Do not say.

‘What do I need?

What further benefit can be mine?’

Do not say.

‘I have enough.

What harm can come to me now?’

In the day of prosperity,

Adversity is forgotten.

In the day of adversity,

Prosperity is not remembered.

It is easy for the Lord,

On the day of death,

To reward individuals

According to their conduct.

An hour’s misery

Makes one forget past delights.

At the close of one’s life.

One’s deeds are revealed.

Call no one happy

Before his death.

By how he ends,

A person becomes known.”

Sirach warns us about judgment day. Do not say that you need anything. Do not say that you have enough, that no one can hurt you. You have to always remember that in the days of your adversity, you may forget about your days of prosperity. The reverse is also true. At the time of your prosperity, you may forget about the days of your adversity. The Lord can quickly reward people according to their conduct, at the day of their death. Sometimes a little misery makes you forget the great delights that you have enjoyed. All your deeds will be revealed at the time of your death. No one is truly happy before they die. A person will be known by how they came to their death. A good life leads to a good death.

The evil ones (Ps 62:3-62:4)

“How long will you assail a person?

How long will you batter your victim?

All of you!

You are like a leaning wall!

You are like a tottering fence!

They only plan

To bring down a person of prominence.

They take pleasure in falsehood.

They bless with their mouths,

But inwardly they curse.”

Selah

David addressed the evil ones directly, all of you. He wanted to know how long would they assail people and batter their victims. They were like a leaning wall or a tottering fence. They only wanted to bring down the important people. They actually enjoyed lies. They blessed with their mouths but were inwardly cursing. This section ends with a musical interlude meditative pause, a Selah.