Worship of God

Some worship the almighty dollar that they can see.  Others worship the unknown, the unseen.  No religion is purely transcendent centered, but also involves to some extent the here and now, immanence.  Our happiness comes in becoming part of others, caring for one’s neighbor with an ego-transcending embrace of others.  If we say that God is love, love is many splendid things.  The difficulty is always the ideal versus the reality of what we experience.  We are striving for perfection, not necessarily reaching it.  Thus, we worship this transcendent God in our lives.

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The perfect future time (Isa 11:6-11:9)

“The wolf shall live

With the lamb.

The leopard shall lie down

With the kid goat.

The calf shall be with the lion.

The lion and the fatling shall be together.

A little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze together.

Their young shall lie down together.

The lion shall eat straw

Like the ox.

The nursing child shall play

Over the hole of the asp.

The weaned child shall put his hand

On the adder’s den.

But they will not get hurt.

They will not destroy

All my holy mountains.

The earth shall be full

Of the knowledge of Yahweh,

Just as the waters cover the sea.”

Isaiah points out that this future messianic king will be Davidic, with the Spirit of Yahweh, just, and live in an ideal perfect time, where all disagreements would disappear. All our problems would be solved in this idyllic perfect age to come, like the paradise that was lost. The wolf and the lamb would get along. So too, the leopard and the kid goat would be fine together. Calves, lions, and feed animals would all be as one. The cow and the bear would graze on the same field. A little child would be able to lead them, since they are so tame. Lions would eat grass and straw, just like oxen. Little nursing children would play by an asp nest or put their hands into adder’s den, and still not get hurt. No one will hurt the holy mountains. The whole earth would be filled with the knowledge of Yahweh, the Lord, just as there is the right amount of water in the seas.

The future just king (Isa 11:3-11:5)

“He shall not judge

By what his eyes see.

He shall not decide

By what his ears hear.

He shall judge

With righteousness.

He shall judge the poor.

He shall decide with equity

For the meek of the earth.

He shall strike the earth

With the rod of his mouth.

With the breath of his lips,

He shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt

Around his waist.

Faithfulness shall be the belt

Around his loins.”

Isaiah points out that not only would this future king have Davidic roots and be filled with the Spirit of Yahweh, he would be righteous and just. He would not merely judge on what he sees and hears, but with righteousness. He would judge the poor and the meek with equity. His mouth and lips would even kill the wicked ones. Righteousness and faithfulness would be his belts. Thus this future ideal king would be just and fair to all, no matter what their status was.

The problems in lending money (Sir 29:4-29:7)

“Many persons regard a loan

As a windfall.

This causes trouble

To those who help them.

One kisses another’s hands

Until he gets a loan.

He is very deferential

In speaking of his neighbor’s money.

But at the time

For repayment,

He delays.

He pays back

With empty promises.

He finds fault with the time.

If he can pay,

His creditor

Will hardly get back half.

The borrower will regard

That as a windfall.

If he cannot pay,

The borrower has robbed

The other of his money.

He has needlessly

Made him an enemy.

He will repay him

With curses.

He will repay him

With reproaches.

Instead of glory,

He will repay him

With dishonor.

Many refuse to lend,

Not because of meanness,

But from fear of being defrauded needlessly.”

Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.

The good and bad wife (Sir 26:22-26:27)

“A prostitute is regarded as spittle.

A married woman

Is a tower of death to her lovers.

A godless wife is given as a portion

To a lawless man.

But a pious wife is given

To a man who fears the Lord.

A shameless woman constantly

Acts disgracefully.

A modest daughter will even

Be embarrassed before her husband.

A headstrong wife is regarded as a dog.

But one who has a sense of shame

Will fear the Lord.

A wife honoring her husband

Will seem wise to all.

But if she dishonors him

In her pride,

She will be known to all

As ungodly.

Happy is the husband

Of a good wife.

The number of his years

Will be doubled.

A loud voiced wife is

Like a trumpet sound.

A garrulous wife is

Like a trumpet sounding the charge.

Every person like this,

Lives in the anarchy of war.”

This section, like the preceding, does not appear in some editions. Sirach once again distinguishes between the good and the bad wife. Of course, prostitutes are like spit. A married wife who has lovers is like the tower of death to them. These godless wives belong with lawless husbands. On the other hand, a pious wife is a gift to a husband who fears the Lord. The shameless wife consistently acts disgraceful, so that even her daughter is embarrassed when her husband is around. A headstrong wife is a like a dog. She needs to be brought under control. The wife who has a sense of shame fears the Lord. Wives who honor their husbands are seen as wise. However, the ungodly wives dishonor their husbands. If a man has a good wife, as above, his life span will be doubled. A loud and talky wife is like a trumpet sound in battle. They deserve to live in a war of anarchy. Thus the humble wife is the ideal.

The wife of your youth (Prov 5:18-5:23)

“Rejoice in the wife of your youth!

She is a lovely deer.

She is a graceful doe.

May her breasts satisfy you at all times!

May you be intoxicated always by her love!

Why should you be intoxicated with another woman?

My son!

Why do you embrace the bosom of an adulterous woman?

Human ways are under the eyes of Yahweh.

He examines all their paths.

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare them.

They are caught in the toils of their sin.

They die for lack of discipline.

Because of their great folly they are lost.”

Now this chapter ends with what you should be doing. You should rejoice with the wife of your youth, as there may have been other wives. However, the ideal is the young wife for life. There is a description of her. She is like a lovely deer or a graceful doe. Her breasts satisfy her husband at all times. Her love is intoxicating. So then he asks why you would seek another intoxicating woman if you have one at home. Then the reprimands come. He reminds his sons that God sees everything. He examines all paths. The wicked usually ensnare themselves as they are caught in the toils of sin. They die because of a lack of discipline. There folly leads to a great loss.

The nations against Yahweh and his anointed (Ps 2:1-2:3)

“Why do the nations conspire?

Why do the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves.

The rulers take counsel together.

They are against Yahweh

And his anointed.

Saying,

‘Let us burst their bonds asunder.

Let us cast their cords from us.’”

Psalm 2 is about the universal kingdom of Yahweh and his anointed one who will rule the world until the end of the kingdom. Once again, there is no introduction. Christians have picked up on the anointed one as the messianic king of Israel, which of course they see as Jesus the anointed one, the Christ. This psalm was even cited as a psalm of David in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 4, although there is no notation as such on this psalm. This work about Yahweh and his anointed king is considered a royal psalm. If written during the time of the captivity in the 6th century BCE, it would be about an ideal anointed king to come, not a current king. The various nations and people of the earth, the non-Israelites, took counsel, conspired, and plotted in vain against Yahweh and his anointed king. They were trying to figure out how to burst their bonds apart. They wanted to be rid of the yoke of the great King Yahweh.