The bad situation of Jeremiah (Jer 23:9-23:10)

“My heart is crushed

Within me

Concerning the prophets.

All my bones shake.

I have become

Like a drunken man

Because of Yahweh.

I have become

Like one overcome by wine

Because of his holy words.

The land is full of adulterers.

Because of the curse,

The land mourns.

The pastures of the wilderness

Are dried up.

Their course has been evil.

Their might is not right.”

Jeremiah complains about the terrible situation he is in. His heart is crushed. His bones shake. He has become like a drunkard, overcome with wine, because of Yahweh and his words. His land is full of adulterers. His land itself mourns as the pastures have dried up. There is evil all around. No one does the right thing. Jeremiah is worried.

The horrible city (Jer 19:8-19:8)

“I will make this city

A horror,

A thing to be hissed at.

Everyone who passes by it

Will be horrified.

They will hiss

Because of all its disasters.”

This is somewhat reminiscent of chapter 18. Their city would become horrible. People would shake their heads and hiss, as they pass by, because of all the disasters there.

Israel forgot Yahweh (Jer 18:13-18:17)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh.

‘Ask among the nations?

Who has heard the like of this?

The virgin Israel has done

A very horrible thing.

Does the snow of Lebanon

Leave the crags of Sirion?

Do the mountain waters run dry?

Do the cold flowing streams stop?

But my people have forgotten me.

They burn incense to a delusion.

They have stumbled in their ways,

On the ancient roads.

They have gone into bypaths.

They have not gone on the highway.

They are making their land a horror.

This is a thing to be hissed at forever.

Everyone who passes by it

Is horrified.

They shake their heads.

Like the east wind,

I will scatter them

Before the enemy.

I will show them my back.

I will not show them my face,

In the day of their calamity.’”

Yahweh wants to know why the Israelites have forgotten him. This virgin Israel has done a horrible thing. He asks whether the snow leaves the mountains of Lebanon at Mount Hermon. Sirion is another name for Mount Hermon. Do the mountain waters dry up? Do the cold streams disappear? Do these sources for the Jordan River stop? Of course not, yet Yahweh’s people have forgotten him. They have turned to offering incense to false delusionary idol gods. They were stumbling along. They have gone off the main highways into the side roads. Their land has become horrible. People shake their heads and hiss as they pass by. Thus Yahweh was going to be like a wind from the east and scatter them to their enemies. When the day of troubles would begin, he would show them his back and not his face.

Prayer to God for his presence (Isa 64:1-64:5)

“O that you would tear open the heavens!

O that you would come down!

Thus the mountains would quake

At your presence!

Fire kindles brushwood.

Fire causes water to boil.

I want to make your name

Known to your adversaries.

Thus the nations might tremble

At your presence!

When you did awesome deeds

That we did not expect

You came down.

The mountains quaked

At your presence!

From ages past,

No one has heard,

No ear has perceived,

No eye has seen any God

Besides you.

You work for those

Who wait for you.

You meet those

Who gladly do right.

You meet those

Who remember you in your ways.”

This prophet wants Yahweh to be present among his people by tearing open the heavens to come down to earth. He wanted to see the mountains quake at his presence. He wanted Yahweh to be kindling wood in a brush that would start a fire or have that same fire make water boil. He wanted Yahweh’s name known to his adversaries. He wanted the nations to tremble at the sight of Yahweh. He wanted something unexpected to happen, like the mountains shake in his presence. He wanted something that no one had ever heard of or seen before. Only God could do this awesome deed. No one besides him. God would appear to those who waited for him. He would meet those who gladly did the right thing by remembering God’s ways.

Stay away from stupid people (Sir 22:13-22:15)

“Do not talk much

With a senseless person!

Without sense,

He will despise

Everything about you.

Do not visit

An unintelligent person!

Stay clear of him!

You may have trouble.

You may be spattered

When he shakes himself off.

Avoid him!

Then you will find rest.

You will never be wearied

By his lack of sense.

What is heavier than lead?

What is its name

Except ‘Fool’?

Sand is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.

Salt is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.

A piece of iron is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.”

Sirach warns us to stay away from stupid people. Do not talk to these senseless people. They will despise you for your intelligence. There is a kind of elitism here. He did not want you to visit with unintelligent people. Stay away from them when they shake themselves like animals, because some of their filth might spatter on you. If you stay away from them, you will not be weary of their senseless talk. A fool is heavier to bear than lead. Practically everything is easier to live with than a stupid person. Thus sand, salt, and iron is better than these stupid senseless fools.

You cannot hide from the Lord (Sir 16:17-16:23)

“Do not say.

‘I am hidden from the Lord.

Who from on high

Has me in mind?

Among so many people,

I am unknown.

What am I

In a boundless creation?

Look!

At his visitation,

Heaven trembles,

The highest heaven trembles.

The abyss trembles.

The earth trembles.

The very mountains quiver.

The foundations of the earth shake,

When he looks upon them.

No human mind can grasp this.

Who can comprehend his ways?

Like a tempest

That no one can see,

So most of his works are concealed.

Who will announce

His acts of justice?

Who will await them?

His decree is far off.’

Such are the thoughts

Of one devoid of understanding.

A senseless person

Thinks foolishly.

A misguided person

Thinks foolishly.”

Sirach warns those who say that God is too busy to worry about them. They think that that they can hide from the Lord because there are so many people in this great boundless created world. After all the heavens, the seas, and the earth tremble and quake when the Lord comes. The mountains and the foundations of the earth shake when he sees them. No human mind can comprehend the ways of the Lord because most of his works are concealed to us. The Lord is like a storm that we never see coming. Who is going to announce his judgments because his decrees seem so far away? These are the thoughts of the foolish misguided people who think that God does not care about them.

The bad behavior of the rich (Sir 13:3-13:7)

“A rich person does wrong.

A rich person even adds insults.

A poor person suffers wrong.

A poor person must add apologies.

A rich man will exploit you,

If you can be of use to him.

But if you are in need,

He will forsake you.

If you own something,

He will live with you.

He will drain your resources

Without a qualm.

When he needs you,

He will deceive you.

He will smile at you.

He will encourage you.

He will speak to you kindly.

He will say.

‘What do you need?’

He will embarrass you with his delicacies,

Until he has drained you

Two or three times.

Finally he will laugh at you.

Should he see you afterwards,

He will pass you by.

He will shake his head at you.”

Sirach warns that rich will do bad things to you and then insult you. If a poor person does something wrong, they have to apologize. Not so for the rich. They will exploit you if you can be helpful to them. However, if you need anything, they will leave quickly. The rich will use what you have and thus drain your resources. If the rich need you, they will deceive you with smiles and kindly words. They will encourage you by asking what they can do for you. They will provide embarrassing delicacies, until you are drained a couple of times over. Then they will laugh at you. If you see them later, they will pass you by and shake their heads at you. Do not be fooled by the rich and their false kindness.

 

The actions of the enemy (Sir 12:16-12:18)

“An enemy speaks sweetly

With his lips.

But in his heart,

He plans to throw you

Into a pit.

An enemy may weep

With tears in his eyes.

But if he finds an opportunity,

He will never have enough of your blood.

If evil comes upon you,

You will find him there ahead of you.

He will pretend to help.

But he will trip you up.

He will shake his head.

He will clap his hands.

He will whisper much.

He will show his true face.”

Beware of the enemy who speaks sweetly, but is actually planning to throw you into a pit. He may weep in front of you, but he is looking for an opportunity to kill you. If something evil happens to you, he will pretend to help. However, he is actually trying to trip you up. He will shake his head, clap his hands, and whisper much until he shows his true face.

David wants protection (Ps 109:20-108:25)

“May this be the reward of my accusers

From Yahweh.

This is the reward for those who speak evil against my life!

O God!

Yahweh!

You act on my behalf for your name’s sake!

Because your steadfast love is good,

Deliver me!

I am poor and needy.

My heart is pierced within me.

I am gone,

Like a shadow at evening.

I am shaken off like a locust.

My knees are weak through fasting.

My body has become gaunt.

I am an object of scorn to my accusers.

When they see me,

They shake their heads.”

Now David turns to Yahweh to be saved from these evil people who were talking about him. He wanted Yahweh to act on his behalf for his name’s sake. He relied on the steadfast love of Yahweh to deliver him from this terrible situation. David admitted that he was poor and needy. His heart was pierced. He had become like an evening shadow. He had been tossed away like a locust. His knees were weak from fasting. His body had become gaunt. He had become the object of scorn to his accusers. When they saw him, they would shake their heads in dismay.

God will take care of David’s enemies (Ps 64:7-64:9)

“God will shoot his arrow at them.

They will be wounded suddenly.

Because of their tongue

He will bring them to ruin.

All who see them

Will shake with horror.

Then everyone will fear.

They will tell what God has brought about.

They will ponder what he has done.”

God will shoot the bow and arrow for David. God will suddenly wound his enemies. They will be ruined because of their evil tongues. Everyone who sees it will shake with horror. They will fear what God has done. They will then have second thoughts about doing evil things and God.