Friendly enemies (Sir 12:8-12:12)

“A friend is not known in prosperity.

An enemy is not hidden in adversity.

One’s enemies are friendly

When one prospers.

But in adversity,

Even one’s friends disappear.

Never trust your enemy.

Like corrosion in copper,

So is his wickedness.

Even if he humbles himself,

Even if he walks bowed down,

Watch yourself!

Take care to be on your guard

Against him.

Be to him

Like one who polishes a mirror.

Make sure that

It does not become completely tarnished.

Do not put him next to you.

He may overthrow you.

He may take your place.

Do not let him sit

At your right hand.

Otherwise he may try

To take your own seat.

At last,

You will realize

The truth of my words.

You will be stung

By what I have said.”

You cannot tell who is a friend or an enemy when you have prosperity or adversity. Do not trust your wicked enemy since he is like corrosive copper. Watch out even when he humbles himself before you. Treat him like a mirror that always needs polishing. Do not put him next to you, because he will overthrow you and take your place. Listen to these words of Sirach. You will realize how true they are when you are stung by your enemies.

Judgment day (Sir 11:23-11:28)

“Do not say.

‘What do I need?

What further benefit can be mine?’

Do not say.

‘I have enough.

What harm can come to me now?’

In the day of prosperity,

Adversity is forgotten.

In the day of adversity,

Prosperity is not remembered.

It is easy for the Lord,

On the day of death,

To reward individuals

According to their conduct.

An hour’s misery

Makes one forget past delights.

At the close of one’s life.

One’s deeds are revealed.

Call no one happy

Before his death.

By how he ends,

A person becomes known.”

Sirach warns us about judgment day. Do not say that you need anything. Do not say that you have enough, that no one can hurt you. You have to always remember that in the days of your adversity, you may forget about your days of prosperity. The reverse is also true. At the time of your prosperity, you may forget about the days of your adversity. The Lord can quickly reward people according to their conduct, at the day of their death. Sometimes a little misery makes you forget the great delights that you have enjoyed. All your deeds will be revealed at the time of your death. No one is truly happy before they die. A person will be known by how they came to their death. A good life leads to a good death.

Wisdom (Prov 19:8-19:9)

“To get wisdom is to love oneself.

To keep understanding is to prosper.

A false witness will not go unpunished.

The liar will perish.”

You love yourself if you seek wisdom. This wisdom will lead to understanding and prosperity. Then in case you forgot about the consequences for lying and bearing false witness that admonition is repeated here, a few verses after the earlier indication. Liars will not go unpunished. In fact, they will perish.

Good companions (Prov 13:20-13:21)

“Whoever walks with the wise

Becomes wise.

But the companions of fools

Suffer harm.

Misfortune pursues sinners.

But prosperity rewards the righteous.”

Be careful who you hang around with. If you walk with the wise ones, you will be wise. However, if you hang out with fools, you probably are one. You will suffer harm. Misfortune seems to follow sinners, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.

A description of wisdom (Prov 8:12-8:21)

“I

Wisdom,

I live with prudence.

I attain knowledge.

I attain discretion.

The fear of Yahweh is hatred of evil.

I hate pride.

I hate arrogance.

I hate the way of evil.

I hate perverted speech.         

I have good advice.

I have sound wisdom.

I have insight.

I have strength.

Kings reign by me.

Rulers decree what is just.

Rulers rule by me.

Nobles govern by me.

All who govern rightly rule by me.

I love those who love me.

Those who seek me diligently

Find me.

Riches and honor are with me.

Enduring wealth is with me.

Prosperity is with me.

My fruit is better than gold,

Even fine gold.

My yield is better than choice silver.

I walk in the way of righteousness.

I walk along the paths of justice,

I endow with wealth those who love me.

I fill their treasuries.”

In an interesting use of a literary form, female wisdom describes herself in the first person singular, “I.” She is prudent, knowledgeable, and discreet. As God fearing, she hates evil, pride, arrogance, and perverted speech. On the other hand, she has good advice, sound wisdom, insight, and strength. All the kings, rulers, and nobles govern rightly because of her. She loves those who love her and seek her out diligently. When you have lady wisdom, then you have riches, honor, wealth, and prosperity. The fruit of wisdom is better than fine gold and silver. She walks in the way of righteousness along the paths of justice. Those who love her will be filled with wealth and treasures.

Yahweh gives prosperity (Ps 128:5-128:6)

“Yahweh blesses you from Zion!

May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

All the days of your life!

May you see your children’s children!

Peace be upon Israel!”

Prosperity comes in two ways, one is in the city of Jerusalem and the other is your family. Yahweh will bless you from Mount Zion. You will see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Of course, we have the famous phrase, may you see your children’s children, and have grandchildren. This short psalm ends with the Shalom peace to all Israel. So we have Yahweh’s prosperity, peace in Israel, prosperity in Jerusalem, and a long life to see your grandchildren live.

Yahweh favors the chosen ones (Ps 106:4-106:5)

“Yahweh!

Remember me

When you show favor to your people!

Help me

When you deliver them!

Thus I may see the prosperity

Of your chosen ones.

Thus I may rejoice in the gladness

Of your nation.

Thus I may glory in your heritage.”

The psalmist wants to share in the glory of the chosen ones. He asks Yahweh to remember him personally when he thinks of his chosen people. When they are helped, he wants to see prosperity also. He wanted to rejoice in the gladness of Yahweh’s nations. He wanted to glory in the heritage of the chosen ones.

The success of the arrogant wicked people (Ps 73:3-73:9)

“I was envious of the arrogant.

I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no pain.

Their bodies are sound and sleek.

They are not in trouble as others are.

They are not plagued like other people.

Therefore pride is their necklace.

Violence covers them like a garment.

Their eyes swell out with fatness.

Their hearts overflow with follies.

They scoff.

They speak with malice.

Loftily they threaten oppression.

They set their mouths against heaven.

Their tongues range over the earth.”

Here we have a vivid description of these wicked arrogant people. Asaph, this psalmist, was envious of their prosperity. They did not have any pain with their sound slick bodies. They did not have troubles like other people who had various illnesses. They were proud violent people. Their garments and their necklaces were indications of their violent nature. They had fat eyes and foolish hearts. They were malicious people who threatened violence. They spoke against heaven as they pursued things here on earth.

Bless the king (Ps 72:1-72:4)

A psalm of Solomon

“Give the king your justice!

O God!

Give your righteousness

To a king’s son!

May he judge your people

With righteousness!

May he judge your poor

With justice!

May the mountains yield prosperity

For the people!

May the hills yield

In righteousness!

May he defend

The cause of the poor people!

May he give

Deliverance to the needy!

May he

Crush the oppressor!”

Psalm 72 is a long blessing for a king. The only name mentioned is King Solomon, so that it might have been on his coronation. This is more or less a portrait of an ideal king. In this first section there is an emphasis on just judgments, especially for the helpless and the weak. The king is to rule with the justice and the righteousness of God. The mountains and the hills were to bring prosperity to the people. However, the primary task of the king was to defend the poor and the needy so that they would be delivered from their oppressors.

God is a protector of widows and orphans (Ps 68:5-68:6)

“God is the father of orphans.

God is the protector of widows.

God is in his holy habitation.

God gives the desolate a home to live in.

God leads out the prisoners to prosperity.

However the rebellious live in a parched land.”

God is the father of orphans. He protects widows from his holy dwelling. He gives the desolate a home to live in. He leads the prisoners into prosperity. However, the rebellious ones will have to live in a parched dry land.