The faithful love of Yahweh (Lam 3:22-3:24)

Heth

“The steadfast love

Of Yahweh

Never ceases.

His mercies

Never come

To an end.

They are new

Every morning.

Great is

Your faithfulness.

‘Yahweh

Is my portion.’

Says my soul.

‘Therefore I will hope

In him.’”

This poem or lamentation took a new turn towards the faithful love of Yahweh. The former tone of pessimism turned to hope, since the steadfast love of Yahweh never ceased. His mercy has no end. Every morning the faithfulness of Yahweh re-appeared. This author depended on Yahweh so that he would hope in Yahweh. Suddenly, this despairing author has great hope in Yahweh. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Heth in this acrostic poem.

The profit motive (Sir 27:1-27:3)

“Many have committed sin

For a trifle gain.

Whoever seeks to get rich

Will avert their eyes.

As a stake is driven firmly

Into a fissure between stones,

So sin is wedged

In between

Selling and buying.

If a person is not steadfast

In the fear of the Lord,

His house

Will be quickly overthrown.”

Sirach reminds us that many sins have been committed over the attempt to make a small profit. Those who seek to get rich turn their eyes away from morality. Just as a stake is usually placed between 2 stones, so too you will find some sin between the buying and selling of a product. If you are not steadfast in your fear of the Lord, your house will be quickly overthrown. Sirach was no friend of capitalism.

Trust the Lord (Sir 2:1-2:6)

“My child!

When you come to serve the Lord,

Prepare yourself for testing!

Set your heart right!

Be steadfast!

Do not be impetuous

In time of calamity!

Cling to him!

Do not depart!

Thus your last days may be prosperous.

Accept whatever befalls you!

In times of humiliation,

Be patient!

Gold is tested in the fire.

Those found acceptable

Are tested in the furnace of humiliation.

Trust in him.

He will help you

Make your ways straight.

Hope in him!”

Here we have a series of admonitions about trusting God. If you want to serve the Lord, you will be tested. You need a good heart. You need to be steadfast. You cannot be hasty in times of trouble. You must cling to the Lord and not depart from him. Then you will have prosperous last days. Accept whatever happens to you. Be patient in times of humiliation. Just as gold is tested in a fire, so are you tested in the furnace of humiliation. You must trust in the Lord. He will help you. You have to make straight your ways. Hope in God! Keep hope alive!

The qualities of wisdom (Wis 7:22-7:23)

“Wisdom is the fashioner of all things.

Wisdom has taught me.

There is in her a spirit that is

Intelligent,

Holy,

Unique,

Manifold,

Subtle,

Mobile,

Clear,

Unpolluted,

Distinct,

Invulnerable,

Loving the good,

Keen,

Irresistible,

Beneficent,

Humane,

Steadfast,

Sure,

Free from anxiety,

All-powerful,

Overseeing all,

Penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent,

Pure,

Altogether subtle.”

Many of the qualities given to the personification of wisdom will be adopted later in the New Testament writings by Paul with his description of the “Spirit” and the Christian Holy Spirit theology. Wisdom fashions all things. It has taught this author.   How do you describe this wisdom spirit? She is an intelligent and Holy Spirit. In some sense, she is the Holy Spirit. She is unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, and invulnerable. She loves the good, and is keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, and free from anxiety. She is all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all intelligent spirits. She is also pure and subtle. Thus you can see the comparative descriptions with the Christian Holy Spirit.

Money (Prov 11:15-11:19)

“To guarantee loans for a stranger brings trouble.

But there is safety in refusing to loan money.

A gracious woman gets honor.

But she who hates virtue is covered with shame.

The timid become destitute.

But the aggressive gain riches.

Those who are kind

Reward themselves.

But the cruel do themselves harm.

The wicked earn no real gain.

But those who sow righteousness

Get a true reward.

Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live.

But whoever pursues evil will die.”

There was no safely in guaranteeing loans for strangers. A gracious woman has great honor, while those without virtue are covered in shame. The timid will become destitute, while the aggressive will get rich. The kind people take care of themselves, while the cruel people harm themselves. The wicked never earn any real gain in life. However, those who sow in righteousness will get a true reward. Those who are steadfast in righteousness will live, while the pursuers of evil will die. Money has to be used correctly.

The happy ones follow the law (Ps 119:1-119:8)

Aleph

“Happy are those whose way is blameless!

They walk in the law of Yahweh.

Happy are those who keep his decrees!

They seek him with their whole heart.

They also do no wrong.

They walk in his ways!

You have commanded your precept.

You have commanded it to be kept diligently.

O that my ways may be steadfast!

That I may keep your statutes!

Then I shall not be put to shame.

I have my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

I will praise you with an upright heart.

I will learn your righteous ordinances.

I will observe your statutes.

Do not utterly forsake me!”

Psalm 119 is one of the longest psalms. However, there are not any titles to this acrostic alphabet psalm about the importance of the law. There are 8 verses to every consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet instead of just a line or two as in some of the other acrostic psalms. In this eulogy to the law, the happy ones are the blameless ones because they walk in the law of Yahweh. They are happy because they keep his decrees. They seek Yahweh with their whole hearts. They do not do anything wrong because they keep Yahweh’s commandments diligently. They are steadfast in their determination to follow the law. The psalmist will try not to be ashamed as he tries to follow the law. He gets personal since he has an upright heart. Using the first person singular, he wanted to learn all the right ordinances and statutes. He wanted to observe them. He asked Yahweh not to forsake him. This section on the first consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, comes to an end.

Thanksgiving for God’s steadfast love (Ps 108:1-108:4)

A song, a psalm of David

“My heart is steadfast!

O God!

My heart is steadfast!

I will sing!

I will make melody!

Awake!

My soul!

Awake!

O harp and lyre!

I will awake the dawn!

I will give thanks to you

Among the peoples!

Yahweh!

I will sing praises to you among the nations.

Your steadfast love is higher than the heavens.

Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”

Psalm 108 seems to be compilation of 2 other psalms, Psalm 57 and Psalm 60. The title is simply a song or psalm of David. This first section is almost word for word from Psalm 57. David was steadfast in his love, just as God had shown his steadfast love to him. He was ready to sing and make melody on the harp and lyre. He wanted his soul to wake up. He was going to wake the morning dawn. He was going to give thanks to Yahweh among all the people. He would sing his praises among the nations because God’s love was as high as the heavens. His faithfulness extended beyond the clouds. David loved Yahweh as Yahweh loved David.

David’s steadfast love of Yahweh (Ps 57:7-57:10)

“My heart is steadfast!

O God!

My heart is steadfast!

I will sing!

I will make melody!

Awake!

My soul!

Awake!

O harp and lyre!

I will awake the dawn!

I will give thanks to you

Among the peoples.

Yahweh!

I will sing praises to you

Among the nations.

Your steadfast love is

As high as the heavens.

Your faithfulness

Extends to the clouds.”

David was steadfast in his love, just as God had shown his steadfast love to him. He was ready to sing and make melody on the harp and lyre. He wanted his soul to wake up. He was going to wake the morning dawn. He was going to give thanks to Yahweh among all the people. He would sing his praises among the nations because God’s love was as high as the heavens. His faithfulness extended beyond the clouds. David loved Yahweh as Yahweh loved David.

A northern plea (Ps 42:6-42:8)

“My soul is cast down within me.

Therefore I remember you

From the land of Jordan,

From Hermon,

From Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep

At the thunder of your cataracts.

All your waves have gone over me.

All your billows have gone over me.

By day,

Yahweh commands his steadfast love.

At night,

His song is with me.

It is a prayer to the God of my life.”

The psalmist was far from the Temple in the land along the Jordan River. He was at Mount Hermon, the northern mountain range between Syria and Lebanon. He was at Mount Mizar, a small mountain range near Mount Hermon which was the source for the Jordan River. He felt like he was in the deepest spot possible. Thunder and cataracts filled his eyes. He felt like waves and gases had overcome him. However, he still was steadfast in the love of Yahweh during the day. At night he sang his song to God, the source of his life.

Ezra tells of the disobedience of Israel in the wilderness (Neh 9:16-9:21)

“They and our ancestors acted presumptuously.

They stiffened their necks.

They did not obey your commandments.

They refused to obey.

They were not mindful of the wonders you performed among them.

They stiffened their necks.

They determined to return to their slavery in Egypt.

You are a God ready to forgive.

You are gracious and merciful.

You are slow to anger.

You abound in steadfast love.

You did not forsake them.

Even when they cast an image of a calf for themselves,

They said.

‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt.’

They had committed great blasphemies.

You in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness.

The pillar of cloud that led them in the way did not leave them day.

The pillar of fire gave them light on the way by which they should go.

You gave your good Spirit to instruct them.

You did not withhold your manna from their mouths.

You gave them water for their thirst.

Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness.

They lacked nothing.

Their clothes did not wear out.

Their feet did not swell.”

Despite the great love of God, the Israelites would not obey him. They actually wanted to return to Egypt. However, God was forgiving, merciful, gracious, and slow to anger. He was steadfast in his love so that he did not forsake our ancestors. Even though they were blasphemous and created a golden calf, in his mercy he did not forsake our ancestors. He sent a pillar of cloud and fire to guide them. He gave his Spirit to instruct them. He gave them manna and water to sustain them in the wilderness. They lacked nothing as their clothes did not wear out nor their feet swell.