The righteous live by their faith (Hab 2:4-2:5)

“Look at the proud!

Their spirit is not right

In them.

But the righteous

Live by their faith.

Moreover,

Wealth is treacherous.

The arrogant

Do not endure.

They open

Their throats wide

As in Sheol.

Just like death,

They never have enough.

They gather all nations

For themselves.

They collect

All people

As their own.”

Yahweh warned that these proud people would have a hard time, because their spirit was not right.  The main theme of this simple response was that the righteous live by their faith.  This idea that the righteous live by faith was a strong part of the apostle Paul in his Christian belief.  On the other hand, wealth was treacherous for the greedy.  Thus, the arrogant ones would not endure, because they were more open to the shadowy afterlife of Sheol.  These greedy people never had enough.  Just like death itself, they were always looking for more people.  They had tried to gather all people and countries to themselves as their own, but they were never satisfied.

Two examples of tough times (Jer 12:5-12:5)

“If you have raced with foot runners

That have wearied you,

How will you compete with horses?

If in a safe land

You fall down,

How will you fare

In the thickets of the Jordan?”

Yahweh responds to Jeremiah by reminding him that if he has a hard time in a foot race that tires him out, what will happen if he has to race against horses? The same is true that if he is falling down in a safe land, how would he do if he was lost in the thickets along the Jordan River? Things could be worse than they are.

Financial independence (Sir 33:19-33:23)

“To son or wife,

To brother or friend,

Do not give power over yourself,

As long as you live.

Do not give your property

To another.

In case you change your mind,

You must ask for it.

While you are still alive,

While you have breath in you,

Do not let anyone take your place!

It is better

That your children

Should ask from you

Than that you should look

To the hand of your children.

Excel in all that you do!

Bring no stain upon your honor!

At the time when you end

The days of your life,

In the hour of your death,

Distribute your inheritance.”

Sirach points out the important of keeping your money until you die. He did not want people to give up their property to sons, wives, brothers, or friends as long as they were alive. He would be against the modern power of attorney concept. He seems to prefer the old fashioned last will and testament. His reasoning was that you might change your mind. Then you would have a hard time getting it back. No one should take your place as long as you were living. It is better that your children come to you, rather than you depend on your children. During your life, you should excel in all that you do. You should bring honor to your family. However, at the end, when you are near death, then you can distribute your goods via a will or anyway you please.

The value of old people (Sir 25:3-25:6)

“If you have gathered nothing

In your youth,

How can you find anything

In your old age?

How attractive is sound judgment

In gray-haired people?

The aged possess good counsel.

How attractive is wisdom

In the aged?

There is understanding

In the venerable people.

There is counsel

In honorable persons.

Rich experience

Is the crown of the aged.

Their boast

Is the fear of the Lord.”

If you have not gathered anything in your youth, you might have a hard time in your old age. However, sound judgment is attractive in gray-haired people. The aged have good counsel. Wisdom, understanding, and counsel make old people attractive and honorable. The crown of the aged old folks is the rich experience of their life. They can boast in their fear of the Lord.

Lies (Sir 7:11-7:14)

“Do not ridicule a person

Who is embittered in spirit.

There is One who abases.

There is One who exalts.

Do not devise a lie against your brother.

Do not do the same to a friend.

Refuse to utter any lie.

It is a habit that results in no good.

Do not babble in the assembly of the elders.

Do not repeat yourself

When you pray.”

Here are more prescriptions of Sirach. You should be trustworthy. You should not ridicule people who are having a hard time. Leave it up to God, the Holy One, to abase or exalt. Do not make up lies against your brother or your friends. Do not become a habitual liar because that is not good. Do not babble among the assembly of the elders. When you pray, do not repeat yourself.

The search for wisdom (Eccl 7:23-7:25)

“All this I have tested by wisdom.

I said.

‘I will be wise.’

But it was far from me.

It is far off.

It is deep.

It is very deep.

Who can find it out?

I turned my mind to know it.

I turned my mind to search it out.

I turned to seek wisdom.

I turned to seek the sum of things.

I know that wickedness is folly.

I know that foolishness is madness.”

Qoheleth was tested by wisdom. He wanted to be wise, but it was far away and too deep for him. He wanted to know who was able to find wisdom. Unlike the psalms, where the beginning of wisdom was simply fear of Yahweh, Qoheleth has a hard time finding wisdom, since he does not make the connection here with the fear of God. He wanted to know about wisdom and calculations. He knew that wickedness and foolishness were folly and madness.

Oxen (Prov 14:4-14:4)

“Where there are no oxen,

There is no grain.

Abundant crops come

By the strength of the ox.”

In a clear farming allusion, if you have no oxen, you will have a hard time planting and harvesting grain. The stronger your ox, the more abundant your grain will be. In today’s terms, without a strong tractor you will not have a good harvest.

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.