Watch your sinning companions (Sir 12:13-12:15)

“Who pities

A snake charmer

When he is bitten?

Who pities

All those who go near wild animals?

So no one pities a person

Who associates with a sinner.

He will become involved in the other’s sins.

He stands by you for a while.

But if you falter,

He will not be there.”

No one pities a snake charmer who gets bit. Neither does anyone pity a person who goes near wild animals. So too, no one pities a person who hangs out with sinners. You will be involved with those sinners. By your friends, you will be known. They will stand with you for a while, but if you fall, they will be gone.

Be careful in what you do (Eccl 10:8-10:11)

“Whoever digs a pit

Will fall into it.

Whoever breaks through a wall,

Will be bitten by a snake.

Whoever quarries stones

Will be hurt by them.

Whoever splits logs

Will be endangered by them.

If the iron is blunt,

If one does not whet the edge,

Then more strength must be exerted.

But wisdom helps one to succeed.

If the serpent bites before it is charmed,

There is no advantage in a charmer.”

Here Qoheleth offers more wise advice. If you dig a pit, you probably will fall into it. If you break through a wall, you might find a snake ready to bite you on the other side. If you dig out stones, you might be hurt by them. If you split logs, they could hurt you. If you have a blunt edge and you do not sharpen it, you will have to use more force. Wisdom can help you to succeed. What is the advantage of being a snake charmer if the snake bites you before you can charm it?

The wicked ones (Ps 58:3-58:5)

“The wicked go astray from the womb.

They err from their birth.

They speak lies.

They have venom

Like the venom of a serpent.

They have venom

Like the deaf adder that stops its ear.

Thus it does not hear

The voice of charmers.

It does not hear

The voice of the cunning enchanter.”

David then went into a diatribe description of the wicked ones. He maintained that the wicked peopple were so from their time in the womb, from their birth. This was the nature of the wicked, since there was no question of nurture. They were snakes with their deadly venom whether it be a serpent or an adder group of snakes. This adder venomous snake seems to be smarter or more cunning since it covers its ears so that the snake charmer cannot influence it. This is odd, but not out of line with the thinking that the snake, the adder, or serpent was evil.