A deceptive friend (Ps 55:20-55:21)

“My companion laid hands on a friend.

He violated a covenant with me.

His speech was smoother than butter.

But war was in his heart.

His words were softer than oil.

But in fact they were drawn swords.”

Now David picks on one person, his friend and companion.  He had violated an agreement with David.  His speech and words were smoother than butter and softer than oil.  What a metaphor!  Butter and oil, things we like, were used to show the sweet talking friend.  However, war was in his heart.  His words were like drawn swords.

The wicked city (Ps 55:8-55:11)

“‘I would hurry to find a shelter for myself,

From the raging wind and tempest.’

Confuse them!

Yahweh!

Confound their speech!

I see violence and strife in the city.

Day and night they go around it

On its walls.

Iniquity and trouble are within it.

Ruin is in its midst.

Oppression and fraud

Do not depart from its marketplace.”

David wanted to find a shelter for himself in the wilderness that would protect him from the raging wind and stormy rain.  At the same time, he wanted Yahweh to confuse the speech of those in the city.  Like today, he said that there was so much violence and strife in the city.  Does that sound like the good old days?  Violence in the cities has been around for over 2,500 years.  So what is new?  There was iniquity and trouble within the city both day and night, around the walls of the city.  Ruin was coming to them because of the oppression and fraud of their marketplace.  Those old fashioned business men were cheating in the marketplace.  Wow!  That is strange to hear.

Bildad responded to Job (Job 18:1-18:4)

“Then Bildad the Shuhite answered.

‘How long will you hunt for words?

Consider!

Then we shall speak.

Why are we counted as cattle?

Why are we stupid in your sight?

You who tear yourself in your anger,

Shall the earth be forsaken because of you?

Shall the rock be removed out of its place?’”

Bildad responded with his second speech that Job is acting like he was the center of the world. Why was Job trying to hunt for words? Bildad and his friends wanted to speak. Why were they called cattle or stupid? Job was angry at himself. Then he was mad at everyone else. He was making too much of himself. Was the world going to stop? Would rocks jump up to move on? No, Job was being too ego-centric.

Job wants them to explain themselves (Job 6:24-6:27)

“Teach me!

I will be silent.

Make me understand how I have gone wrong.

How forceful are honest words!

But you criticize.

What does it do to blame?

Do you think that you can use accusing words?

Is the speech of the desperate like a wind?

You would even cast lots over the orphan.

You would even bargain over your friend.”

Job dared them to tell him where he made a mistake. Where had he gone wrong? He was being criticized and reprimanded without anything specific. Where they critical of his words? Did they blame him? Their speech was like the wind, as it easily moved on. They were the kind of people who would gamble over orphans and bargain over friends. Who needs friends like this?

The king agrees to a peace treaty (1 Macc 6:60-6:63)

The speech of Lysias pleased the king and the commanders. He sent an offer of peace to the Jews. They accepted it. So the king and the commanders gave them their oath. On these conditions, the Jews evacuated the stronghold. But when the king entered Mount Zion, he saw what a strong fortress the place was. He broke the oath he had sworn. He gave orders to tear down the wall all around. Then he departed with haste as he returned to Antioch. There he found Philip in control of the city. However, he fought against him. Then he took the city by force.”

The speech of Lysias pleased the 10 year old king and the commanders. They wanted to give the Jews a peace offer that was accepted. They gave an oath, but when they got into the city, they broke their oath and tore down the walls around the city. Then they departed to Antioch where Philip had control of the city. However, Antiochus V and Lysias fought against Philip and took the city back by force. Obviously Lysias was the main force behind the 10 year old King Antiochus V.

The final defeat and plunder of the camp (1 Macc 4:19-4:25)

“Just as Judas was finishing this speech, a detachment appeared, coming out of the hills. They saw that their army had been put to flight. The Jews were burning the camp. The smoke that was seen showed what had happened. When they perceived this, they were greatly frightened. When they also saw the army of Judas drawn up in the plain for battle, they all fled into the land of the Philistines. Then Judas returned to plunder the camp. They seized a great amount of gold and silver, cloth dyed blue and sea purple, as well as great riches. On their return they sang hymns and praises to heaven.

‘For he is good,

For his mercy endures forever.’

Thus Israel had a great deliverance that day.”

Just as Judas stopped speaking, a detachment of the gentiles appeared out of the hills. They saw that their army had been defeated as the Jews were burning up the camp. When they saw the smoke they were frightened. They then fled to the Philistine territory, always a good place for the enemies of Israel. Then Judas began to plunder the camp. They seized silver and gold, blue and purple cloth, and great wealth. On their return they sang hymns and praises. They had a great day of deliverance for Israel. They said that God was good and that his mercy endures forever.

Let us thank God (Jdt 8:25-8:27)

“In spite of everything,

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

He is putting us to the test as he did our ancestors.

Remember what he did with Abraham,

How he tested Isaac,

What happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia,

While he was tending the sheep of Laban,

His mother’s brother.

He has not tried us with fire,

As he did them,

To search their hearts.

Nor has he taken vengeance upon us.

But the Lord scourges those who are close to him,

In order to admonish them.”

Despite everything, Judith wants them to give thanks to the Lord, our God. This is a test like he gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is not trying us with fire nor is he vengeful. He scourges those that are close to him to help them learn by admonishment. This was a stirring speech by Judith as she wanted to give courage to the elders. She wanted to remind them that God had sustained their ancestors in times of trial.