Let the earth bless God (Dan 3:52-3:54)

“Let the earth

Bless the Lord!

Let it sing praise

To him!

Let it highly exalt him forever!      

Bless the Lord!

Mountains!

Hills!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

All things that grow

On the earth!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!”

Now this hymn turns to the earthly situation. The earth, the mountains, the hills, and all things that grow on earth should bless the Lord. They should sing praises and exalt him, because they are under his control.

 

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The extreme conditions bless God (Dan 3:49-3:51)

“Bless the Lord!

Ice!

Cold!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

Frosts!

Snows!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

Lightning!

Clouds!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!” 

This hymn continued with a blessing of the Lord from the ice, the cold, the frosts, the snows, the lightning, and the clouds. God controlled them, so that they should praise and exalt him forever.

Blessing God (Dan 3:3-3:4)

“Blessed are you!

O Lord!

God of our ancestors!

Worthy of praise!    

Glorious is your name

Forever!

You are just

In all

You have done!

All your works

Are true!

Your ways are right!

All your judgments

Are true!”

This hymn or canticle of Azariah begins with a blessing to God, the God of his ancestors, the Lord, whose glorious name is to be praised forever. God is just to all people. All his ways, works, and judgments are true. Everything he has done is wonderful.

The chant leaving Babylon (Isa 48:20-48:22)

“Go out from Babylon!

Flee from Chaldea!

Declare this

With a shout of joy!

Proclaim it!

Send it forth

To the ends of the earth!

Say.

‘Yahweh has redeemed

His servant Jacob!’

They did not thirst

When he led them through the deserts.

He made water flow for them

From the rock.

He split open the rock.

The water gushed out.

‘There is no peace

For the wicked.’

Says Yahweh.”

Second Isaiah makes an obvious comparison to the Exodus in this hymn about leaving Babylon. They were to get out of Babylon and away from the Chaldeans. The Israelites were to shout with joy so that it could be heard at the ends of the earth. Yahweh has saved Jacob. They would not be thirsty on their way through the wilderness, just as those leaving with Moses were not thirsty. Yahweh was going to break open a rock, as in Exodus, chapter 17, to give them water, so that the water would gush out of the broken rock. However, there would be no peace for the wicked.

Thanksgiving praise (Isa 12:4-12:6)

“You will say on that day.

‘Give thanks to Yahweh!

Call on his name!

Make known his deeds

Among the nations!

Proclaim that his name is exalted!

Sing praises to Yahweh!

Because he has done gloriously!

Let this be known

In all the earth!

Shout aloud!

Sing for joy!

O royal Zion!

Great in your midst is

The Holy One of Israel.’”

You should proclaim a thanksgiving hymn of praise on that day of reunion. Give thanks to Yahweh! Call on his name! Make his deeds known among the nations! Proclaim his name! Sing praises to Yahweh because he is glorious! Let the whole world know! Shout it out! Sing for joy! Isaiah maintains that the holy one of Israel would be among them at Mount Zion.

A poem in search of wisdom (Sir 51:21-51:25)

“While I was still young,

Before I went on my travels,

I sought wisdom openly

In my prayer.

Before the temple

I asked for her.

I will search for her

Until the end.

From the first blossom

To the ripening grape,

My heart delighted in her.

My foot walked

On the straight path.

From my youth,

I followed her steps.

I inclined my ear a little.

I received her.

I found for myself much instruction.

I made progress in her.

To him who gives wisdom

I will give glory.”

This appendix about wisdom is a Hebrew alphabetic or acrostic poem, like the ending of Proverbs, chapter 31. It follows the hymn to God’s mercy, but had the same numbers so I changed them. This author or Sirach was searching for wisdom since his youth, even before he started traveling. He prayed for wisdom in the Temple. He would continue to search her out until the end of his life. Just as you watch a blossom grow into a grape, he too grew in wisdom and enjoyed every minute of it. He always walked on the straight paths, following in her footsteps. He listened to all the instructions about wisdom as he progressed. Thus he can now give glory to the one who gave him wisdom.

Eulogy for famous holy men (Sir 44:1-44:2)

“Let us now sing the praises

Of famous men,

Our ancestors,

In their generations.

The Lord apportioned to them

Great glory.

The Lord apportioned to them

His majesty from the beginning.”

Sirach then turned to a hymn to honor all his famous holy ancestors from past generations. Their lives, like the saints of the later Christian tradition, illustrated the glory of God. Notice how all are male. In their own generations, they were glorified by the Lord so that his majesty might shine in their lives from the beginning. For those familiar with the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire” will recognize this verse from the opening scenes of the movie at the memorial services.