The prayer to the Lord (Sir 51:10-51:12)

“I cried out.

‘Lord!

You are my Father!

Do not forsake me

In the days of trouble!

There is no help

Against the proud.

I will praise your name continually!

I will sing hymns of thanksgiving!’

My prayer was heard.

You saved me from destruction.

You rescued me in the time of trouble.

For this reason,

I thank you.

I praise you.

I will bless

The name of the Lord.”

This author prayed to the Lord like he was asking his father to help him. A father does not give up on his son in times of trouble. He had no help against the proud people. However, he was going to praise the name of God continually by singing hymns of thanksgiving. Fortunately, his prayers were heard as he was saved from destruction. He was rescued in his time of trouble. Therefore, he thanked and praised the Lord. He blessed the name of the Lord.

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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.

The law (Sir 33:1-33:3)

“No evil will befall

The person

Who fears the Lord.

But in trials,

They will be rescued

Again and again.

The wise

Will not hate the law.

But the hypocritical one

Is like a boat in a storm.

The sensible person

Will trust in the law.

For such a one

The law is as dependable

As a divine oracle.”

Sirach notes that if you fear the Lord, no evil will happen to you. If there are trials, you will be rescued any number of times. The wise people do not hate the law. However, the hypocritical ones are like a boat in a storm. You cannot tell what will happen. The sensible person trusts in the law because it is dependable like a divine oracle.

Victory song (Ps 144:9-144:11)

“I will sing a new song to you!

O God!

Upon a ten-stringed harp

I will play to you!

You give victory to kings.

Who rescue his servant David.

Rescue me from the cruel sword!

Deliver me from the hand of aliens!

Their mouths speak lies.

Their right hands are false.”

David was going to sing a new song to God on the 10 stringed harp. He was going to play because of the victory of the kings. God had rescued his servant David. I thought that this was David singing a new song. Instead, there is a reference to David, the servant of God, then a cry to rescue him, as if they were two different people. This psalmist wanted to be rescued from the cruel sword of aliens or strangers. Just like in the preceding verses, these aliens spoke lies and their right hands were false.

Yahweh remembered us (Ps 136:23-136:25)

“Yahweh remembered us in our low estate.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He rescued us from our foes.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He gives food to all flesh.

His steadfast love endures forever.”

Once again, the congregational refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated after every verse.  Yahweh remembered us so that we in turn should remember him. He rescued the Israelites from their lowly situation and various foes. He gave them food to eat because of his eternal steadfast love for them.

Yahweh rescued them from Egypt (Ps 135:8-135:9)

“He struck down the first-born of Egypt,

Both human beings and animals.

He sent signs and wonders

Into your midst,

O Egypt,

Against Pharaoh,

Against all his servants.”

Yahweh rescued the Israelites from Egypt as in the stories of Exodus, chapters 7-12. He struck down the first born humans and animals in Egypt. He performed many signs and wonders for the Egyptian Pharaoh and his servants.

Rescue me (Ps 119:153-119:160)

Resh

“Look on my misery!

Rescue me!

I do not forget your law.

Plead my cause!

Redeem me!

Give me life

According to your promise!

Salvation is far from the wicked.

They do not seek your statutes.

Great is your mercy!

Yahweh!

Give me life

According to your justice!

Many are my persecutors.

Many are my adversaries.

Yet I do not swerve from your decrees.

I look at the faithless with disgust.

Because they do not keep your commands.

Consider how I love your precepts!

Preserve my life

According to your steadfast love!

The sum of your word is truth.

Every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.”

This psalmist wanted to be rescued from his misery because he had not forgotten the law. He wanted a defense attorney and a redeemer. He wanted his life as Yahweh had promised. The wicked would not be saved because they did not seek Yahweh’s statutes. Yahweh’s mercy was great so that his justice would also help him. Although he had many persecutors and adversaries the psalmist did not swerve from Yahweh’s decrees. He looked at the unfaithful in disgust because they did not keep Yahweh’s commands. He, on the other hand, loved Yahweh’s precepts. He wanted his life preserved because of Yahweh’s love. The word of Yahweh is truth so that every one of his just ordinances would endure forever. So ends this section on the twentieth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Resh.