“This people honors me
With their lips.
But their hearts
Are far from me.
Do they worship me,
They teach human precepts
Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ·
μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.
This Greek quotation from Isaiah, chapter 29:13 is from the Septuagint, almost the same as in Mark, chapter 7:6-7. This oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, centers on insincere worship. These Israelites adored Yahweh with their mouths and lips, but their hearts were far away. They only praised the Lord because of human demands, as they recited rote prayers. Jesus repeated the verses of Isaiah, via Matthew. These people honored him with their lips or mouth (Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ). However, their hearts were far away from him (ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ). In a vain or useless way, they adored, worshiped, or reverenced him (μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με). They are teaching doctrines (διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας) that were human precepts or ordinances (ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων). Thus Jesus, via Matthew and Isaiah, was wailing against false worship and human precepts as divine worship and teachings.
“‘A son honors his father.
A servant honors his master.
If then I am a father,
Where is my honor?
If I am a master,
Where is the respect due me?’
Says Yahweh of hosts
You despise my name!
‘How have we despised
Yahweh said that a son honors his father, just like a servant honors his master. Yahweh as a father and master wanted to know why he was not honored or respected. He aimed his question at the priests, since he felt that they had despised his name. The priests wanted to know how they had despised his name.
“A wise magistrate educates his people.
The rule of an intelligent person is well ordered.
As the people’s judge is,
So are his officials.
As the ruler of the city is,
So are all its inhabitants.
An undisciplined king ruins his people.
A city becomes fit to live in
Through the understanding of its rulers.
The government of the earth
Is in the hands of the Lord.
He will raise up the right leader
For the time.
Human success is
In the hand of the Lord.
He confers honor upon the lawgiver.”
Sirach explains why good government is so important. A wise leader educates his people. An intelligent person will have a well ordered city. The city officials get their sense of government from the judge. The inhabitants of a city get their sense of government from their ruler. Rulers are the ones who make a city livable. However, the government is in the hands of the Lord with the divine right of kings. God will then make sure that the right leader is there at the right time. The Lord holds human success in his hands. He is the one who confers honors on his legislators and scribes.
“Like a muddied spring,
Or a polluted fountain,
Is the righteous
Who give way before the wicked.
It is not good
To eat much honey.
It is not good
To seek honor on top of honor.
Like a city breached without walls,
Is one who lacks self control.”
The righteous who give into the wicked are like muddied spring water or polluted fountains. Do not eat too much honey. Do not seek too many honors. You need self control. Otherwise you are like an open city where there are no gates and no walls. Self control is important.
“Whoever is slack in his work
Is close kin to a vandal.
The name of Yahweh is a strong tower.
The righteous run into it.
The righteous are safe.
The wealth of the rich is their strong city.
They image wealth like a protective high wall.
One’s heart is haughty.
But humility goes before honor.”
If you are slack in your work, you are like a vandal stealing from your employer. The name of Yahweh is like a strong tower. The righteous run to this tower of Yahweh where they are safe. The rich people live in a strong city. They believe that their wealth is like a protective wall for them. Generally speaking, one’s heart is haughty or proud before the destruction comes. Humility should go before honors.
“The ear that heeds wholesome admonitions
Will lodge among the wise.
Those who ignore instruction
But those who heed admonitions
The fear of Yahweh is instruction in wisdom.
Humility goes before honor.”
Wise people listen to admonitions, while the ignorant ones ignore instruction. They despise themselves. Those who listen to instruction and admonitions gain a better understanding. After all, the fear of God is the true instruction in wisdom. You should choose humility before honors.
“Behold our shield!
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.