Put wisdom into practice (Sir 51:26-51:30)

“I resolved to live

According to wisdom.

I was zealous for the good.

I shall never be disappointed.

My soul grappled with wisdom.

In my conduct

I was strict.

I spread out my hands

To the heavens.

I lamented my ignorance of her.

I directed my soul to her.

In purity

I found her.

With her,

I gained understanding

From the first.

Therefore I will never be forsaken.

My heart was stirred to seek her.

Therefore I have gained a prize possession.

The Lord gave me my tongue

As a reward.

I will praise him with it.”

Sirach or this author wanted to live according to wisdom, to put wisdom into practice. He was zealous for the good things, so that he was never disappointed. He was strict in his conduct, as his soul wrestled with wisdom. He admitted in prayer that he was ignorant of wisdom, but he tried to purify his soul to find out more. Finally, he gained the understanding that he would never be abandoned by God. His heart was stirred to seek her even more. The result was a prize possession, the Lord gave him a speaking tongue so that he could praise the Lord even much more.

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Lack of education (Sir 21:18-21:21)

“Like a house in ruins

Is wisdom to a fool.

To the ignorant,

Knowledge is talk

That has no meaning.

To a senseless man,

Education is

Fetters on his feet.

Education is

Like manacles on his right hand.

A fool raises his voice

When he laughs.

But the wise

Smile quietly.

To the sensible person,

Education is

Like a golden ornament.

Education is

Like a bracelet on the right arm.”

The foolish people do not understand or appreciate education. The ignorant foolish people think that wisdom is a ruined house, since smart talk is meaningless. The ignorant ones think that education is nothing but chains on their feet and handcuffs on their hands. It holds them back from physical activity. The foolish laugh loudly, but the wise smile quietly. For the sensible person, education is a golden ornament or a bracelet on their arms. The fools are happy with their lack of education because they are ignorant.

Liars (Sir 20:24-20:26)

“A lie is an ugly blot

On a person.

It is continually

On the lips of the ignorant.

A thief is preferable

To a habitual liar.

But the lot of both

Is ruin.

A liar’s way

Leads to disgrace,

His shame is

Ever with him.”

A lie is like an ugly blot on a person. Ignorant people continually lie. A thief is better than a habitual liar, although both are headed to ruin. The way of a liar will lead to disgrace, because his shame is always with him.

Inappropriate speech (Sir 20:18-20:20)

“A slip on the pavement

Is better than a slip of the tongue.

The downfall of the wicked

Will occur just as speedily.

A coarse person is

Like an inappropriate story,

That is continually on the lips

Of the ignorant.

A proverb from a fool’s lips

Will be rejected.

He does not tell it

At the proper time.”

Sirach notes that it is better to slip on the pavement than to have a slip of the tongue. The wicked fall speedily. A crude vulgar person is like an inappropriate story that ignorant people keep telling all the time. Thus a proverb from the lips of a fool will be rejected because he will not tell it at the right time.

Listen to instruction (Prov 15:31-15:33)

“The ear that heeds wholesome admonitions

Will lodge among the wise.

Those who ignore instruction

Despise themselves.

But those who heed admonitions

Gain understanding.

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.

The foolish woman (Prov 9:13-9:18)

“The foolish woman is loud.

She is ignorant.

She knows nothing.

She sits at the door of her house.

She takes a seat at the high places of the town.

She calls to those who pass by.

They go straight on their way.

‘You who are simple,

Turn in here!’

To those without sense,

She says.

‘Stolen water is sweet.

Bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’

But they do not know that the dead are there.

Her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”

Now we are back to the foolish woman. She is the loud, ignorant, and stupid woman who sits at her door or at the high places in town. She tries to get those passing by her to turn into her house. However, they go straight past her. Her sales pitch is that stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. This is a subtle form of seduction. Thus this first introduction to the proverbs ends with this admonition to avoid the evil ladies, as if men had nothing to do with it, as if men were not interested in sex without this enticement.

I was stupid (Ps 73:21-73:26)

“When my soul was embittered,

When I was pricked in heart,

I was stupid.

I was ignorant.

I was like a brute beast toward you.

Nevertheless I am continually with you.

You hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel.

Afterward you will receive me with honor.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

There is nothing on earth

That I desire other than you.

My flesh may fail.

My heart may fail.

But God is the strength of my heart.

God is my portion forever.”

This psalmist Asaph says that he was stupid and ignorant when he had these strange thoughts about the prosperous wicked people. He was acting like a brutal beast toward God. However, God led him by the hand and gave him counsel. God then honored him. There was no one else in heaven besides God who could help him. There was nothing on this earth that he desired. His heart and his flesh might fail, but God remained his strength and portion forever.