The works of the Lord (Sir 42:15-42:17)

“I will now call to mind

The works of the Lord.

I will declare

What I have seen.

By the word of the Lord,

His works are made.

All his creatures

Do his will.

The sun looks down

On everything

With its light.

The work of the Lord

Is full of his glory.

The Lord has not empowered

Even his holy ones

To recount

All his marvelous works.

The Lord,

The Almighty,

Has established

That the universe

May stand firm

In his glory.”

Sirach now recalls the works of the Lord in nature.   He was speaking about what he had seen. The works of the Lord were made by his word. This is in slight contradiction with the creative role of wisdom. Here it is the word of God that creates the world. All these creative things do the will of the Lord. Thus the sun lights up and glorifies the world. Thus you see the ancient inclination to make the sun a god. Just like today, we think that all things look so beautiful on a gorgeous sunny day. No one, not even the holy angels, can tell all about the marvelous works that the Almighty Lord has done. The universe stands as an example of his glory.

The Lord’s creation (Sir 16:26-16:30)

“The Lord created his works

From the beginning.

When he made them,

He determined their boundaries.

He arranged his works

In an eternal order.

Their dominion was

For all generations.

They are neither hungry

Nor growing weary.

They do not abandon their tasks.

They do not crowd one another.

They never disobey his word.

The Lord looked upon the earth.

He filled it with his good things.

With all kinds of living beings

He covered its surface.

In to it

They must return.”

Sirach’s concept of creation was as a developed static work. The Lord determined the eternal boundaries of all the created things on earth. Thus there was the domination of certain species over others. Nature does not grow weary or hungry. The things of the earth do not abandon their tasks nor crowd each other out. They never disobey the Lord. He has filled this earth with good living things. However, all these living things will return to the earthly surface since they are not individually eternal.

Avoid the wicked (Prov 4:14-4:17)

“Do not enter the path of the wicked.

Do not walk in the way of evildoers.

Avoid it!

Do not go on it!

Turn away from it!

Pass on!

They cannot sleep

Unless they have done wrong.

They are robbed of sleep

Unless they have made some one stumble.

They eat the bread of wickedness.

They drink the wine of violence.”

This father maintains that they should not enter the path of the wicked. They were not to walk with evildoers. They were to avoid them, turn away, and pass them by. These evildoer wicked people cannot sleep until they have done something wrong or made someone stumble. They eat wicked bread and drink violent wine. These metaphors tend to emphasis the evil nature of these people. Their very eating and drinking leads them further into evil ways.

A song of thanksgiving to Yahweh (Ps 124:1-124:5)

A song of ascents, of David

“If it had not been Yahweh

Who was on our side,

Let Israel now say.

If it had not been Yahweh

Who was on our side,

When our enemies attacked us,

Then they would have swallowed us up alive.

Their anger was kindled against us.

Then the flood would have swept us away,

The torrent would have gone over us.

Then over us would have gone

The raging waters.”

Psalm 124 is another short song or psalm of thanksgiving on the pilgrimage ascending to Jerusalem, like the others in this series. Notice the repetition of the opening verses that made it easier to remember while moving on pilgrimage. If Yahweh was not on their side, they would have been swallowed up alive. Their enemies or the flood waters would have destroyed them. They were blessed that Yahweh was on their side of the battle against man and nature.

Why did nature fear Yahweh? (Ps 114:5-114:8)

“Why is it?

O sea!

Why do you flee?

O Jordan!

Why do you turn back?

O mountains!

Why do you skip like rams?

O hills!

Why do skip like lambs?

O earth!

Tremble at the presence of Yahweh!

Tremble at the presence of the God of Jacob!

He turns the rock into a pool of water.

He turns the flint into a spring of water.”

This short psalm concludes with wondering why nature was so submissive to Yahweh. Why did the Red Sea flee and spread apart? Why did the Jordan River turn back? Why were the mountains and hills skipping like rams and lambs? The answer was, of course, they trembled at the presence of Yahweh, the God of Jacob. Yahweh was able to turn rock and flint into water.

The wicked ones (Ps 58:3-58:5)

“The wicked go astray from the womb.

They err from their birth.

They speak lies.

They have venom

Like the venom of a serpent.

They have venom

Like the deaf adder that stops its ear.

Thus it does not hear

The voice of charmers.

It does not hear

The voice of the cunning enchanter.”

David then went into a diatribe description of the wicked ones. He maintained that the wicked peopple were so from their time in the womb, from their birth. This was the nature of the wicked, since there was no question of nurture. They were snakes with their deadly venom whether it be a serpent or an adder group of snakes. This adder venomous snake seems to be smarter or more cunning since it covers its ears so that the snake charmer cannot influence it. This is odd, but not out of line with the thinking that the snake, the adder, or serpent was evil.