The truly wise person (Sir 37:22-37:26)

“If a person is wise

To his own advantage, T

he fruits of his good sense

Will be praiseworthy.

They will be trustworthy.

A wise person

Instructs his own people.

The fruits of his good sense

Will endure.

A wise person

Will have praise heaped upon him.

All those who see him

Will call him happy.

The days of a person’s life

Are numbered.

But the days of Israel

Are without number.

Whoever is wise

Among his people

Will inherit honor.

His name will live forever.”

Sirach now points out who the truly wise person is. The wise ones work to their own advantage. They have good sense that is praiseworthy, trustworthy, and honored. The truly wise ones instruct their own people. The fruits of these happy wise people will endure with praise. Although the days of everyone are numbered and limited, that is not true about Israel since its days are not numbered. So too, the honorable wise person will have his name last forever. This hyperbolic use of forever indicates a long time, rather than eternity.

The difference between the rich and the humble (Sir 13:21-13:24)

“When the rich person totters,

He is supported by friends.

But when a humble person falls,

He is pushed away

Even by friends.

If the rich person slips,

Many come to his rescue.

If he speaks unseemly words,

They justify him.

If the humble person slips,

They even criticize him.

If he talks sense,

He is not given a hearing.

When the rich person speaks,

All are silent.

They extol to the clouds

What he says.

When the poor person speaks,

They say.

‘Who is this fellow?’

Should he stumble,

They even push him down.

Riches are good

If they are free from sin.

Poverty is evil

Only in the opinion of the ungodly.”

Sirach points out the different attitudes that we have toward the rich and the poor. We tolerate and encourage bad behavior by rich people, but we put down the good behavior of poor people. If a rich person totters a little bit, everyone will come to help him. If a humble poor person slips, his friends push him away. Everyone tries to justify the unseemly words of the rich. However, they will criticize the words of the poor, even if they make a lot of good sense. No one will listen to the poor, but everyone is silent when the rich speak. They will say how wonderful he is. On the other hand, when the poor person speaks, they will ask, who is this guy anyway. If a poor person stumbles, they will push him down further. The only way that rich can be good, is if they are free from sin. In fact, the ungodly think that poverty is evil. It is a tough life if you are poor, but everyone will cover your mistakes if you are rich, because you have “affluenza”.

Unjust anger (Sir 1:22-1:24)

“Unjust anger cannot be justified.

Anger tips the scale to one’s ruin.

Those who are patient

Stay calm

Until the right moment.

Then cheerfulness comes back to them.

They hold back their words

Until the right moment.

The lips of many tell of their good sense.”

There is no justification for unjust anger. If fact, getting angry may tip the scales to your ruin. The patient ones stay calm until the right moment, until their anger calms down. Then they are cheerful again. They hold back their words until the right moment. Many people will talk about their good sense.

The fools (Eccl 10:1-10:3)

“Dead flies make

The perfumer’s ointment

Give off a foul odor.

So a little folly outweighs

Wisdom and honor.

The heart of the wise

Inclines to the right.

But the heart of a fool

Inclines to the left.

Even when the fools

Walk on the road,

They lack sense.

They show to everyone

That they are fools.”

Here are some more words of wisdom from Qoheleth. Dead flies can ruin an ointment by giving off a smelly odor. A little folly can outweigh wisdom and honor. The heart of the wise leans to the right, but the heart of a fool leans to the left. This illustrates the traditional view that left leaning people are foolish. Even when a fool is out walking, he still lacks good sense. Fools show to everyone that they really are fools.

Royal power (Prov 19:10-19:12)

“It is not fitting

For a fool to live in luxury.

Much less it is not fitting

For a slave to rule over princes.

Those with good sense are slow to anger.

It is their glory to overlook an offense.

A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion.

But his favor is like dew on the grass.”

A fool should not live in luxury. A slave should not rule over princes. There were clear social class distinctions. Those who are slow to anger show good sense. However, watch out for the senseless king who is angry, growling like a lion. His favor, on the other hand, is like the morning dew on the grass.

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.

The righteous (Prov 12:5-12:11)

“The thoughts of the righteous are just.

But the advice of the wicked is treacherous.

The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush.

But the speech of the upright delivers them.

The wicked are overthrown.

They are no more.

But the house of the righteous will stand.

One is commended for good sense.

But a perverse mind is despised.           

Better to be a common despised man,

Who works for himself,

Than to be self important,

But lack food.

The righteous know the need of their animals.

But the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Those who till their land will have plenty of food.

But those who follow worthless pursuits have no sense.”

Here we have a description of the righteous person. The thoughts of the righteous are just. On the other hand, the advice and the words of the wicked are treacherous and set an ambush. The upright speech of the righteous will help them to escape. Even though the wicked will be overthrown, the house of the righteous will continue to stand because they have good sense. The wicked are despised. It is better to work for yourself than pretend to be self important without any good. The righteous take good care of their animals. Even the mercy of the wicked is cruel. If you till the land, you will have plenty of food. However, if you pursuit worthless things, you are senseless.