Planting seeds (Eccl 11:4-11:6)

“Whoever observes the wind

Will not sow.

Whoever regards the clouds

Will not reap.

Just as you do not know

How the breath comes to the bones

In the mother’s womb,

So you do not know

The work of God

Who makes everything.

In the morning,

Sow your seed.

At evening,

Do not let your hand be idle.

You do not know

Which will prosper,

This or that,

Whether both alike will be good.”

If you wait for the perfect wind or the perfect clouds, you will never sow or reap. You have no idea how breath comes to bones in a mother’s womb. So too you have no idea how crops grow. Qoheleth reminds us that God made everything. In the morning, you sow your seeds, but you should not be idle in the evening. You are not sure which seeds will prosper, this one, that one, or both, only God knows.

The righteous (Prov 28:11-28:13)

“The rich are wise in self-esteem.

But an intelligent poor person

Sees through the pose.

When the righteous triumph,

There is great glory.

But when the wicked prevail,

People go into hiding.

No one who conceals his transgressions

Will prosper.

Whoever confesses them,

Whoever forsakes them,

Will obtain mercy.”

The rich people pretend to be wise in their own eyes with great self-esteem. However, the smart poor people can see through this. Whenever the righteous triumph, there is great glory. On the other hand, when the wicked prevail, everyone goes into hiding. You will not prosper if you hide your transgressions. However, if you confess your transgressions and give them up, you will obtain mercy.

The senseless (Prov 17:18-17:20)

“It is senseless

To give a pledge.

It is senseless

To becomes surety for a neighbor.

Whoever loves transgression

Loves strife.

Whoever builds a high threshold

Invites broken bones.

The crooked of mind do not prosper.

The perverse of tongue fall into calamity.”

Do not give a pledge for your neighbor. If you love transgressions, then get ready to love strife. If you build a high threshold, you are inviting danger because some tall strong people might come into your house to hurt you. This might also be a sign that you are showing pride. The crooked and the perverse do not prosper, but fall into calamity or danger.

Fools (Prov 17:7-17:10)

“Fine speech is not becoming to a fool.

Still less is false speech becoming to a ruler.

A bribe is like a magic stone

In the eyes of those who gives it.

Wherever they turn,

They prosper.

Whoever forgives an affront

Fosters friendship.

But whoever dwells on disputes

Will alienate a friend.

A rebuke goes deeper into a discerning person

Than a hundred blows into a fool.”

Fools do not have fine speech. Rulers should not lie. A bribe is a like a magic stone for the one who gives bribes. Things seem to happen for them magically, as they prosper. If you forgive someone who has offended you, you are actually fostering friendship. However, if you dwell on disputes, you will alienate a friend. You can criticize a discerning person with some reward, but it would be foolish to try to change a fool with a 100 blows or lashes.

Pride (Prov 16:18-16:21)

“Pride goes before destruction.

A haughty spirit happens before a fall.

It is better to be of a lowly spirit

Among the poor

Than to divide the spoil

With the proud.

Those who are attentive to a matter will prosper.

Happy are those who trust in Yahweh.

The wise of heart are called perceptive.

Pleasant speech increases persuasiveness.”

Being proud was not a good idea since it led to destruction. A haughty or proud spirit usually came before someone stumbled or fell. It is much better to be a lowly spirit among the poor than to divide up the spoils of victory with the proud people. If you are attentive to small matters you will prosper. If you trust in Yahweh, you will be happy. The wise ones are called perceptive. Pleasant speech will make it easier to be persuasive.

Peace in Jerusalem (Ps 122:6-122:9)

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

‘May they prosper who love you!

Peace be within your walls!

May security be within your towers!’

For the sake of my relatives and friends,

I will say.

‘Peace be within you!’

For the sake of the house of Yahweh,

Our God,

I will seek your good.”

This short psalm ends with a wish for shalom or peace in Jerusalem. They were to pray for peace there. Everyone who loved Jerusalem should prosper. Peace and security should be within the walls and towers of Jerusalem. The peace of shalom should be the greeting between relatives and friends, “peace be with you.” For the sake of the house of Yahweh, they all should seek to do good and thus have peace.

Yahweh makes us happy (Ps 90:13-90:17)

“Return!

Yahweh!

How long will be?

Have compassion on your servants!

Satisfy us in the morning                                                   

With your steadfast love.

Thus we may rejoice.

We may be glad all our days.

Make us glad

As many days

As you have afflicted us.

Make us glad

As many years

As we have seen evil.

Let your work be manifest to your servants.

Let your glorious power be to their children.

Let the favor of Yahweh,

Our God,

Be upon us.

Let the favor of Yahweh

Prosper for us

The work of our hands.

O prosper the work of our hands.”

This psalm concludes with a cry for pity on us humans. They wanted to be happy. How long would they have to suffer? When would they have compassion? They wanted the morning steadfast love of God to endure. They wanted to be happy for as long as they had been afflicted and seen evil. They wanted to see the glorious work and the favor of Yahweh. They wanted the work of their hands to prosper.

God is good to the righteous (Ps 73:1-73:2)

A psalm of Asaph

“Truly God is good to the upright.

He is good to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me,

My feet had almost stumbled.

My steps had nearly slipped.”

The 3rd book of psalms begins with Psalm 73 from Asaph. In fact, there are 12 psalms attributed to Asaph, Psalm 50, and the next 11 psalms at the beginning of this 3rd book of psalms. Asaph was a transcriber or author of psalms at the time of David and Solomon. This may also refer to the group named after him who were musicians at the Temple. This Asaph is described in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6, as one who could trace his ancestors directly back to Levi. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 5, he is listed as a Temple singer at the time of Solomon during the transport of the Ark of the Covenant. This psalm seems to be a consideration of justice and why did the evildoers prosper much like in the book of Job. There is the common statement that God is good to the upright and the pure of heart. However, this Asaph has almost stumbled. He has almost slipped.

The king and prosperity (Ps 72:15-72:17)

“Long may he live!

May gold of Sheba be given to him!

May prayer be made for him continually!

May blessings be invoked for him all day long!

May there be abundance of grain in the land!

May grain wave on the tops of the mountains!

May its fruit be like Lebanon!

May people blossom in the cities

Like the grass of the field!

May his name endure forever!

May his fame continue as long as the sun!

May all nations be blessed in him!

May they pronounce him happy!”

These are a series of wishes for the king. First, there is the one that he might have a long life. Thus the famous saying, “Long live the King.” Then the wish was for gold from Sheba, where of course, the famous Queen of Sheba had visited King Solomon. Every day in the great Temple prayers should be offered to the king who built the Temple. They also wished for an abundance of grain on the land and in the mountains. They wanted it to be like Lebanon to the north. The cities should also prosper like grass in the field. They wanted his name and his fame to endure as long as there was a sun in the sky. All nations were to be blessed by him in his happiness. Thus the king was like a mini-god in his great power.

The wicked believe that no one will bother them (Ps 10:5-10:6)

“The ways of the wicked prosper at all times.

Your judgments are on high!

They are out of their sight!

As for their foes,

They scoff at them.

They think in their heart.

‘We shall not be moved.

Throughout all generations

We shall not meet adversity.’”

The wicked ones prosper all the time. They think that God’s judgments are on high and out of sight. They scoff at those who oppose them. They think that that no one will touch them from one generation to the next. They believe that they will not meet adversity.