Human conduct (Sir 4:20-4:28)

“Watch for the opportune time!

Beware of evil! 

Do not be ashamed to be yourself!

There is a shame that leads to sin.

There is also a shame that is glory

There is a shame that is favor.

Do not show partiality to your own harm!

Do not show deference to your downfall!

Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment!

Do not hide your wisdom!

Wisdom becomes known through speech.

Education becomes known

Through the words of the tongue.

Never speak against the truth.

But be ashamed of your ignorance.

Do not be ashamed to confess your sins!

Do not try to stop the current of a river!

Do not subject yourself to a fool!

Do not show partiality to a ruler!

Fight to the death for truth!

The Lord God will fight for you.”

Here we have a series of reprimands about human conduct. You should be aware of evil. You should not be ashamed of yourself. There is a shame that leads to sin, but also a shame that leads to glory and favors. Watch out for your own harm and downfall. Speak out at the proper moment. You should not hide your wisdom. People know you are wise and educated by your speech and the words of your tongue. Never go against the truth. You should be ashamed of your ignorance, but not be ashamed to confess your sins. Do not go against the river current or subject yourself to a fool. Do not show partiality to a ruler, but fight to the death for truth. God will then fight for you.

Almsgiving (Sir 3:29-3:31)

“The mind of the intelligent appreciates proverbs.

An attentive ear is the desire of the wise.

Just as water extinguishes a blazing fire,

So almsgiving atones for sins.

Whoever repays favors

Gives thought to the future.

When they fall,

They will find support.”

Intelligent people appreciate proverbs. You should be wise. You should pay attention with your ears. Like water on a fire, almsgiving, can atone for sins. If you repay people for favors, your reward will go into the future. If anything happens to you, you will find support.

Evil consequences of the worship of false idols (Wis 14:22-14:26)

“Then it was not enough for them to err

About the knowledge of God,

But they lived in great strife due to ignorance.

They called such great evils peace.

Whether they killed children in their initiations,

Or celebrated secret mysteries,

Or held frenzied revels with strange customs,

They no longer keep

Either their lives pure

Or their marriages pure.

But they either treacherously killed one another,

Or grieved one another by adultery.

All was a raging riot

Of blood,

Of murder,

Of theft,

Of deceit,

Of corruption,

Of faithlessness,

Of tumult,

Of perjury.

There was confusion over what was good.

There was forgetfulness of favors.

There was pollution of souls.

There was sex perversion.

There was disorder in marriage.

There was adultery.

There was debauchery.”

What happens to those who worship false idols? They were ignorant of God (περὶ τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ γνῶσιν). However, they lived in great strife and called it peace. They killed their children in strange initiation ceremonies. They celebrated secret mysteries (μυστήρια) with strange customs. Their lives and marriages were no longer pure. They killed each other. They committed adultery among themselves. They ended up in a riot of blood and murder. There was theft, deceit, corruption, faithfulness, tumult, perjury, sexual perversion, adultery, and debauchery. They did not know what was good.   They forgot favors. They defiled their souls.

Words of the foolish (Eccl 10:12-10:15)

“Words spoken by the wise

Bring them favor.

But the lips of fools

Consume them.

The words of their mouth

Begin in foolishness.

Their talk

Ends in wicked madness.

Yet fools talk on and on.

No one knows what is to happen.

Who can tell anyone what the future holds?

The toil of fools wears them out.

They do not even know the way to town.”

Qoheleth warns us about fools. The wise know how to speak, so that they gain favors. However, the lips of the fools only consume them. Their words begin in foolishness and end in wicked madness. Fools talk on and on with many words. No one knows what is going to happen in the future. The work of fools wears them out. They are so tired and confused that they do not even know how to get to town.

The role of the king (Prov 16: 10-16:15)

“Inspired decisions are on the lips of a king.

His mouth does not sin in judgment.

Honest balances and scales are Yahweh’s.

All the weights in the bag are his work.

It is an abomination for kings to do evil.

The throne is established by righteousness.

Righteous lips are the delight of a king,

He loves those who speak what is right.

A king’s wrath is a messenger of death.

Whoever is wise will appease it.

In the light of a king’s face

There is life.

His favor is like the clouds

That bring the spring rain.”

This next section follows the medieval concept of the diving right of kings. Thus the king speaks in the name of Yahweh. His decisions are thus inspired by Yahweh. He does not sin in making his judgments. He expects, like Yahweh, to have honest scales and balances, so that there should not be any false weights in bags on the scales. Thus, it is an abomination for a king to do evil because the throne was established by righteousness, which should be the delight of the king. The king loves those who speak correctly and rightly. On the other hand, his wrath is a messenger of death. The wise ones are able to appease his anger. You will have life if the king’s face lights upon you. His favors are like refreshing spring rains.

Hope and knowledge (Prov 13:12-13:19)

“Hope deferred

Makes the heart sick.

But a desire fulfilled

Is a tree of life.

Whoever despises the word

Brings destruction on themselves.

But whoever respects the commandment

Will be rewarded.

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life.

Thus one may avoid the snares of death.

Good sense wins favor.

But the way of the faithless is their ruin.

The clever do all things intelligently.

But the fool displays folly.

A bad messenger brings trouble.

But a faithful envoy brings healing.

Poverty and disgrace come to

Whoever ignores instruction.

But whoever heeds reproof is honored.

A desire realized

Is sweet to the soul.

But to turn away from evil

Is an abomination to fools.”

When hope is deferred, it brings on sickness. However, when a desire is fulfilled, the tree of life grows more. If you despise the word or commandment of God, you will bring on your own destruction. If you respect the commandments, then you will be rewarded. Listen to the teachings of the wise ones because they are fountain of life to help you avoid the snares of death. Good sense will win you favors, while the faithless way leads to ruin. The clever smart ones do everything intelligently, while the fools tend to be foolish. It is better to be a good messenger than a bad messenger because that will bring healing to people. If you ignore instruction, you will end up poor and in disgrace. If you follow instructions, you will be honored. Realizing your dreams and hopes is sweet. The problem is that the evil ones have a hard time turning away from evil since they are so attracted to it.

Listen to instructions (Prov 8:32-8:36)

“Now,

My children!

Listen to me!

Happy are those who keep my ways!

Hear instruction!

Be wise!

Do not neglect it!

Happy is the one who listens to me!

He watches daily at my gates.

He waits beside my doors.

Whoever finds me,

Finds life.

He obtains favor from Yahweh.

But those who miss me,

Injure themselves.

All who hate me,

Love death.”

This time wisdom wants the children to listen to her instructions in order to become wise.   Happy are those who follow the wise ways. They will be wise and do not neglect this teaching. The listeners are the really happy ones. They would watch at the town gates and beside the doors. Whoever found wisdom, would find life. They would obtain favors from Yahweh. However, those who missed wisdom would injure themselves. Anyone who hated wisdom would love death.

Yahweh is my shield (Ps 84:9-84:12)

“Behold our shield!

O God!

Look on the face of your anointed!

A day in your courts is better

Than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper

In the house of my God

Than live in the tents of wickedness.

Yahweh God is a sun.

Yahweh God is a shield.

He bestows favor.

He bestows honor.

No good thing does Yahweh withhold

From those who walk uprightly.

Yahweh of hosts!

Happy is everyone who trusts in you!”

This psalm ends with the psalmist reminding people on how to be happy, trust in Yahweh. Yahweh is his shield and protector. The psalmist wants God to look at his anointed one. He believes that one day in the courts of the Temple was better than 1,000 days elsewhere. He was happy to be a Temple door keeper than live in the tents of the wicked. Yahweh was his sun and shield at the same time. Yahweh had bestowed favors and honors on him. Yahweh does not hold back anything from the upright. Everyone who trusts in Yahweh is happy. How to be happy, trust in Yahweh.

Divine justice is correct (Job 11:13-11:20)

“If you direct your heart rightly,

You will stretch out your hands toward him.

If iniquity is in your hand,

Put it far away!

Do not let wickedness reside in your tents!

Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish.

You will be secure.

You will not fear.

You will forget your misery.

You will remember it as waters that have passed away.

Your life will be brighter than the noonday.

Its darkness will be like the morning.

You will have confidence,

Because there is hope.

You will be protected.

You will take your rest in safety.

You will lie down.

No one will make you afraid.

Many will entreat your favor.

But the eyes of the wicked will fail.

All way of escape will be lost to them,

Their hope is to breathe their last.”

Now Zophar turned on Job directly. He told him to pray with his hands stretched out. He wanted him to put away the iniquity in his heart. He was to get rid of the wickedness in his tents. Then his face would be without blemishes. Job would be secure and not fearful. All his misery would be like a stream that passed by. His life would be brighter than the noon day sun. He would have confidence and hope again. He would be protected and safe. He would not be afraid to lie down. People would come to him for favors. The wickedness would fade so that the only escape for the evil people was to wish for a quick death. This was a personal attack on Job.