Gifts (Sir 18:15-18:18)

“My child!

Do not mix reproach

With your good deeds!

Do not spoil your gift

By harsh words!

Does not the dew give relief

From the scorching heat?

So a word is

Better than a gift.

Indeed,

Does not a word

Surpass a good gift?

Both are to be found

In a gracious man.

A fool is ungracious.

A fool is abusive.

The gift of a grudging giver

Makes the eyes dim.”

Be careful when you are giving gifts that your words and attitude not betray your good deed. Do not criticize when you are doing good deeds. Don’t spoil your gifts with unkind words. Just like the morning dew gives relief from the later noon day heat, so too a nice word might be better than a good gift, and even surpass it. The gracious man offers both good words and good gifts. On the other hand, the fool is both ungracious and insulting. People do not look favorably on a grudging giver.

The downtrodden (Sir 7:32-7:36)

“Stretch out your hand to the poor.

Thus your blessing may be complete.

Give graciously to all the living.

Do not withhold kindness

Even from the dead.

Do not avoid

Those who weep.

But mourn with those who mourn.

Do not hesitate to visit the sick.

Because for such deeds

You will be loved.

In all you do,

Remember the end of your life.

Then you will never sin.”

Sirach has some recommendations for how to deal with the downtrodden and what the consequences are. First, stretch out your hand to the poor and your blessings will be complete. Be kind and gracious to all the living as well. Secondly, you should be kind to the dead, but it is not clear what is meant here. Thirdly, you should comfort and mourn with those who are weeping and mourning. Fourthly, you should visit the sick because you will be loved for that. Finally, you should remember the end of your life to help you avoid sin. Once again, this is not a clear indication of an afterlife, but a hint at it.

Money (Prov 11:15-11:19)

“To guarantee loans for a stranger brings trouble.

But there is safety in refusing to loan money.

A gracious woman gets honor.

But she who hates virtue is covered with shame.

The timid become destitute.

But the aggressive gain riches.

Those who are kind

Reward themselves.

But the cruel do themselves harm.

The wicked earn no real gain.

But those who sow righteousness

Get a true reward.

Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live.

But whoever pursues evil will die.”

There was no safely in guaranteeing loans for strangers. A gracious woman has great honor, while those without virtue are covered in shame. The timid will become destitute, while the aggressive will get rich. The kind people take care of themselves, while the cruel people harm themselves. The wicked never earn any real gain in life. However, those who sow in righteousness will get a true reward. Those who are steadfast in righteousness will live, while the pursuers of evil will die. Money has to be used correctly.

Yahweh the all powerful (Ps 147:1-147:6)

“Praise Yahweh!

How good it is to sing praises to our God!

He is gracious!

A song of praise is fitting.

Yahweh builds up Jerusalem.

He gathers the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the broken hearted.

He binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars.

He gives to all of them their names.

Great is Yahweh!

He is abundant in power.

His understanding is beyond measure.

Yahweh lifts up the downtrodden.

He casts the wicked to the ground.”

Psalm 147 is the second alleluia psalm as praise for Yahweh dominates. Once again there is no beginning title. It almost seems like a continuation of the preceding psalm. They were to all sing praises to Yahweh, another way of saying alleluia, the Hebrew “Hallelujah,” because he is gracious. It is fitting to sing to Yahweh because he built up Jerusalem. He gathered the outcasts. He healed the broken hearted by binding up their wounds. He determined the number and named all the stars. Yahweh is great with abundant power. No one could measure his understanding. He lifted up the downtrodden, but he cast out all those wicked ones to the ground.

Faithful Yahweh (Ps 145:13-145:20)

Nun

Yahweh is faithful in all his words.

He is gracious in all his deeds.

Samek

Yahweh upholds all who are falling.

He raises up all who are bowed down.

Ain

The eyes of all look to you.

You give them their food in due season.

Phe

You open your hand.

You satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Cade

Yahweh is just in all his ways.

He is kind in all his doings.

Qoph

Yahweh is near to all who call upon him.

He is near to all who call upon him in truth.

Resh

He fulfills the desire of all who fear him.

He also hears their cry.

He saves them.

Shin

Yahweh watches over all who love him.

But he will destroy all the wicked.”

Yahweh is faithful in his words and gracious in his deeds. He holds up all who are falling. He raises up those bowed down. He gives them food in due season. He opens his hand to fulfill desires. Yahweh is just in his ways and kind in his actions. He is near to those who truthfully call upon him. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him. He can hear their cry and save them. He watches over all those who love him. However, he will destroy the wicked. The next 8 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are found here in italic.

Praise Yahweh (Ps 135:1-135:4)

“Praise Yahweh!

Praise the name of Yahweh!

Give praise!

O servants of Yahweh!

You stand in the house of Yahweh!

You stand in the courts of the house of our God!

Praise Yahweh!

Yahweh is good!

Sing to his name!

He is gracious!

Yahweh has chosen Jacob for himself.

Israel is his own possession.”

Psalm 135 does not have a title as this hymn praises God for his mighty deeds. This psalm begins with a “praise Yahweh” that is equivalent to an “alleluia,” the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” The psalmist wanted all the servants of Yahweh to praise his name. They were standing in the house of Yahweh, in the courtyards. They were to praise Yahweh and sing to his name. After all, Yahweh was gracious. He had chosen Jacob and made Israel his possession.

Steady my steps (Ps 119:129-119:136)

Phe

“Your decrees are wonderful.

Therefore my soul keeps them.

The unfolding of your words gives light.

It imparts understanding to the simple.

With open mouth I pant.

Because I long for your commandments.

Turn to me!

Be gracious to me!

It is your custom toward those who love your name.

Keep my steps steady

According to your promise!

Never let iniquity have dominion over me!

Redeem me from human oppression!

Thus I may keep your precepts.

Make your face shine upon your servant.

Teach me your statutes!

My eyes shed streams of tears.

Because your law is not kept.”

The psalmist wanted to remain steady in his steps that were following the law, since Yahweh’s decrees are wonderful. The unfolding of his words gives light so that he has a simple understanding. He longed and panted for Yahweh’s commandments. He wanted Yahweh to be gracious to him because Yahweh loved him. He wanted his steps kept steady just as Yahweh had promised. He did not want iniquity to have dominion over him. He wanted to be redeemed from human oppression. He would then be able to keep the precepts of Yahweh because his face shines on him. He wanted to learn the statutes. He cried when he learned that some people did not keep the law. So ends this section on the seventeenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Phe.

I observe your commandments (Ps 119:57-119:64)

Het

“Yahweh is my portion.

I promise to keep your words.

I implore your favor with all my heart.

Be gracious to me according to your promise.

When I think of your ways,

I turn my feet to your decrees.

I hasten.

I do not delay

To keep your commandments.

Even though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,

I do not forget your law.

At midnight,

I rise to praise you,

Because of your righteous ordinances.

I am a companion of all

Who fear you.

I am a companion of

Those who keep your precepts.

Yahweh!

The earth is full of your steadfast love.

Teach me your statutes!”

This psalmist promised to keep the words of Yahweh. He wanted Yahweh to continue with his gracious promise. When he thought about Yahweh, he turned his feet to Yahweh’s decrees. He hurried to keep all the commandments of God. Even though the wicked ones tried to ensnarl him, he did not forget the law. In fact, he rose at midnight to praise Yahweh and his righteous ordinances. He was a companion to those who fear God and keep his precepts. The earth is full of the steadfast love of Yahweh. This psalmist wanted to learn more about the statutes of Yahweh. So ends this section on the eighth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Het.

Yahweh is gracious (Ps 116:5-116:7)

“Gracious is Yahweh!

Righteous is Yahweh!

Our God is merciful!

Yahweh protects the simple.

When I was brought low,

He saved me.

Return!

O my soul!

To your rest!

Yahweh has dealt bountifully with you.”

Then the psalmist addressed God directly but yet at the same time talking about him. Yahweh is gracious, righteous, and merciful. His God, Yahweh protects the simple. When he was in a bad situation, Yahweh saved him. He wanted his soul to return to peace and rest.

The righteous (Ps 112:1-112:6)

“Praise Yahweh!

Aleph 

Happy are those who fear Yahweh!

Bet      

Happy are those who greatly delight in his commandments!

Gimel

Their descendants will be mighty in the land.

Dalet  

The generation of the upright will be blessed.

He      

Wealth and riches are in their houses.

Vav     

Their righteousness endures forever.

Zain   

They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright.

Het     

They are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

Tet      

It is well with those who deal generously and lend.

Yod     

They conduct their affairs with justice.

Kaph  

The righteous will never be moved.

Lamed

They will be remembered forever.”

Psalm 112 is a companion psalm to Psalm 111. Even though it is fairly short, it is another line by line acrostic or Hebrew alphabet psalm without any title. Just like the preceding psalm, it also starts with the refrain “Praise Yahweh” or the Alleluia cry, the Hebrew word “Hallelujah.” Although there is a comparison between the righteous and the wicked, the emphasis is mostly on the righteous. The righteous are happy because they fear God. They delight in his commandments. Their descendants will be mighty. The generations of the upright are blessed and happy since their righteousness endures forever. They will have wealth and riches in their houses. They will be the light in the darkness. They are gracious, merciful, and righteous, just like Yahweh. They will be generous and just. They will be remembered because of their righteousness.