The destroyer (Isa 33:1-33:1)

“Woe to you!

Destroyer!

You yourself have not been destroyed!

You treacherous one!

With whom no one has dealt treacherously!

When you have ceased to destroy,

You will be destroyed.

When you have stopped dealing treacherously,

You will be dealt with treacherously.”

This section seems to be a later addition of prayers led by a prophet in the various religious services. The prophetic term destroyer here refers to Babylon. Although it has not yet been destroyed, it will be. No has dealt treacherously with them, but they have dealt treacherously with others. The destroying days of Babylon are numbered. They will be dealt with treacherously.

Saved from death (Sir 51:5-51:9)

“The Lord delivered me

From the deep belly of Hades.

He delivered me

From an unclean tongue.

He delivered me

From lying words.

He delivered me

From the slander

Of an unrighteous tongue                          

To the king.

My soul drew

Near to death.

My life was

On the brink of Hades below.

They surrounded me on every side.

There was no one to help me.

I looked for human assistance.

There was none.

Then I remembered your mercy.

O Lord!

I remembered from of old.

You rescue those

Who wait for you.

You save them

From the hand of their enemies.

I sent up my prayers from the earth.

I begged for rescue from death.”

This author shows how he was near death, when the Lord helped him. He was saved from the belly of hell or Hades, the shadowy underworld after death. He also was saved from the unclean and lying tongues of the unrighteous people who went to the king against him. His soul grew close to death as he was on the brink of hell or the underworld of Hades. He was surrounded on every side, when he realized that human help was not enough. Then he remembered the mercy of the Lord who had rescued and saved others from the hands of their enemies. Thus he sent up prayers from earth to heaven, begging to be rescued from death.

Your duty to your parents (Sir 3:1-3:9)

“Listen to me!

Your father!

O children!

Act accordingly!

Thus you may be kept in safety.

The Lord honors a father above his children.

The Lord confirms a mother’s right over her children.

Whoever honors their father

Atones for sins.

Whoever respects their mother is

Like one who lays up treasure.

Whoever honors their father

Will have joy in their own children.

When one prays

They will be heard.

Whoever respects their father

Will have a long life.

Whoever honors their mother

Obeys the Lord.

They will serve their parents as masters.

Honor your father by word.

Honor your father by deed.

Thus his blessing may come upon you.

A father’s blessing

Strengthens the houses of the children.

But a mother’s curse

Uproots their foundations.”

Now Sirach asks children to listen to their fathers. If they do so, they will be safe. The Lord has placed the father in charge of the children, so the children should respect their fathers. If they do, they will atone for their sins. They should respect their mothers because she is like an important treasure. If you honor your father, you will have joy in your own children. Their prayers will be heard. They will have a long life. If you honor your mother, you obey God. You should honor your parents by word and deed as if they were your masters. This is like the divine right of parents. Blessings will come upon you to strengthen the house of your children. However, watch out for the curse of your mother, which could uproot everything.

From the depths (Ps 130:1-130:2)

A song of ascent

“Out of the depths,

I cry to you!

Yahweh!

Yahweh!

Hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

To the voice of my supplications!”

Psalm 130 is another in this series of pilgrimage songs or psalms on the ascent to Jerusalem. However, this is more a penitential psalm that cries from the depths of despair. This psalmist cried out to Yahweh. He wanted Yahweh to listen. He wanted Yahweh to have his ears attentive to his prayers of supplication.

The futility of other gods (Ps 115:4-115:8)

“Their idols are silver and gold.

They are the work of human hands.

They have mouths,

But do not speak.

They have eyes,

But do not see.

They have ears,

But do not hear.

They have noses,

But do not smell.

They have hands,

But do not feel.

They have feet,

But do not walk.

They make no sound in their throat.

Those who make them are like them.

So are all who trust in them.”

The contrast of Yahweh with these gold and silver idols is stark. These idol gods are the works of human hands. They have mouths, eyes, ears, noses, hands, and feet. However, they cannot speak, hear, see, smell, feel, or walk. Thus these impotent idols could not utter any sound. The idols were like those who had made them. They were trusting in themselves. The implication here was that Yahweh, whose name was in the Temple, had the anthropomorphic ability to speak, hear, see, smell, feel, and walk among his people. Many of the Israelite prayers assume this ability as they often pray that Yahweh might speak, hear, and see them.

The happy ones in Zion (Ps 84:5-84:8)

“Happy are those

Whose strength is in you!

Happy are those

In whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca,

They make it a place of springs.

The early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength.

The God of gods will be seen in Zion.

Yahweh!

God of hosts!

Hear my prayer!

Give ear!

O God of Jacob!”

Selah

The happy people are those who put their strength in Yahweh. The happy people are on their way to Zion. Even when they are in the valleys, there will be springs of water and gentle early morning rains. They go from strength to the strength of Yahweh, who is the God of gods, as if there were other false gods. Then there are the pleas for the God of Jacob, Yahweh, to give an ear and listen to his prayers. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

Listen to our prayer (Ps 79:11-79:13)

“Let the groans of the prisoners come before you!

According to your great power

Preserve those doomed to die!

Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors

The taunts with which they have taunted you!

Yahweh!

Then we your people,

The flock of your pasture,

Will give thanks to you forever.

From generation to generation

We will recount your praise.”

This psalm ends with the request to listen to their prayers. The Israelites considered themselves as prisoners who were doomed to die. Indeed the psalmist wanted God to preserve them. He wanted God to return sevenfold the taunts that had been delivered to them. They were his people, his flock. They would give thanks forever so that generation after generation would praise him.

The end of the prayers of David (Ps 72:20-72:20)

“The prayers of David,

Son of Jesse,

Are ended.”

This is a postscript to the second book of psalms. This seems to indicate that there will be no more psalms of David. In fact, there are many more psalms attributed to David in the next 3 books of psalms. Clearly it is David, the son of Jesse, rather than King David who made these prayers.

Doxology end to the first book (Ps 41:13-41:13)

“Blessed be Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

From everlasting to everlasting!

Amen and Amen.”

There is a shout out to Yahweh. As the end of this psalm, this praise of Yahweh closes out the first book of psalms. He was and is the God of Israel forever. The response of all, like the great ending of all doxologies or prayers to God is “Amen, Amen.”

The plight of the poor (Job 24:9-24:12)

“There are those who snatch

The orphan child from the breast.

They take as a pledge the infant of the poor.

They go about naked,

Without clothing.

Though hungry, they carry the sheaves.

Between their terraces they press out oil.

They tread the wine presses,

But suffer thirst.

From the city,

The dying groan.

The throat of the wounded cries for help.

Yet God pays no attention to their prayer.”

Job maintained that God did not pay attention to the prayers of the poor. They have their children snatched from their breast as collateral. They have no clothing. Although hungry and thirsty, they carry the wheat and press the olive oil and the grapes for wine. They groan from the city, but no one hears them. Their prayers go unanswered.