Words of fools and the wise (Sir 21:25-21:28)

“The lips of the babblers

Speak of what is not their concern.

But the words of the prudent

Are weighed in the balance.

The mind of fools

Is in their mouth.

But the mouth of the wise

Is in their mind.

When an ungodly man

Curses his adversary,

He curses himself.

A whisperer degrades himself.

He is hated in his neighborhood.”

Sirach indicates that foolish babblers talk about things that do not concern them. However, the words of the prudent wise ones are heavily weighted in the balance. The minds of the fools are in their mouths, but the reverse is true for the wise. In other words, the foolish speak without thinking, while the wise think before they speak. When an ungodly fool curses his enemy, he is actually cursing himself. The foolish whisperer is degrading himself, because his neighbors hate his whispering gossip.

Foolish chatter (Sir 19:6-19:12)

“One who hates gossip

Has less evil.

Never repeat a conversation.

You will lose nothing at all.

With a friend,

With a foe,

Do not report it.

Unless it would be a sin for you,

Do not reveal it.

Someone may have heard you.

Someone may have watched you.

In time,

They will hate you.

Have you heard something?

Let it die with you!

Be brave!

It will not make you burst.

Having heard something,

The fool suffers birth pangs

Like a woman in labor with a child.

Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh,

So is gossip inside a fool.”

Gossip or idle chatter appears to be an evil. Sirach reminds you that you should not repeat a conversation with another person, whether it was your friend or your foe. The only reason for repeating a conversation would be if it was a sin not to do so. You should not reveal your conversations since somebody may have heard or seen you doing it. This then can turn into hatred. If you have heard something, just let it die. A fool, on the other hand, hears something and immediately wants to let everyone know about it. This foolish gossip person is like a woman in labor trying to deliver her baby. This fool is like someone who has an arrow stuck in his leg. He just can’t wait to get it out.

The difficult situation of David (Ps 69:9-69:12)

“It is zeal for your house

That has consumed me.

The insults of those

Who insult you

Have fallen on me.

When I humbled my soul with fasting,

They insulted me for doing so.

When I made sackcloth my clothing,

I became a byword to them.

I am the subject of gossip

For those who sit in the gate.

The drunkards make songs about me.”

David explained his situation. He had great zeal for the house of Yahweh that he was about to construct. However, he felt that the insults against Yahweh had fallen on him. He had fasted but people insulted him for doing that. He was wearing mourning sackcloth, but all they did was gossip about him in the public meeting places at the gate. Even the drunkards were making up songs about him.