Hymn to Yahweh (Jer 20:12-20:13)

“O Yahweh of hosts!

You test the righteous!

You see the heart!

You see the mind!

Let me see your retribution

Upon them!

I have committed my cause

To you!

Sing to Yahweh!

Praise Yahweh!

He has delivered

The lives of the needy

From the hands of evildoers.”

Jeremiah praises Yahweh. He knows that God tests the righteous ones because he sees their hearts and minds. Jeremiah wanted retribution to come upon those who had opposed him. However, he has committed his cause to Yahweh. They were to sing and praise Yahweh, because he has delivered the lives of the needy from the evildoers.

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The devious heart (Jer 17:9-17:10)

“The heart is devious

Above all things.

The heart is perverse.

Who can understand it?

I!

Yahweh!

I test the mind!

I search the heart!

In order to give to all

According to their ways,

According to the fruit of their doings.”

Yahweh seems to tell Jeremiah that the heart is devious and perverse. Only he can understand the heart, since Yahweh tests it and searches out the hearts of all people. He can tell by the way that they do things. He can see what the fruit of their actions is. Thus he understands what kind of heart they have.

The use of wine (Sir 31:25-31:31)

“Do not try to prove your strength

By drinking wine.

Wine has destroyed many people.

As the furnace tests

The work of the smith,

So wine tests hearts

When the insolent quarrel.

Wine is very life to human beings,

If you drink it in moderation.

What is life to one

Who is without wine?

It has been created

To make people happy.

Wine drunk at the proper time,

Is rejoicing to the heart.

Wine drunk in moderation

Brings gladness to the soul.

Wine drunk to excess

Leads to bitterness of spirit,

Leads to quarrels,

Leads to stumbling.

Drunkenness increases

The anger of a fool

To his own hurt.

It reduces his strength.

It adds wounds.

Do not reprove your neighbor

At a banquet of wine.

Do not despise him

In his merrymaking.

Speak no word of reproach to him.

Do not distress him

By making demands of him.”

Sirach warns that you should not try to show how strong you are by drinking wine since it has destroyed many people. Just as a furnace tests the iron work of a blacksmith, so too wine tests insolent people when they quarrel. However, wine does have a good purpose. It is life itself when taken in moderation. Without wine, our lives would not be happy. Wine at the proper time and in moderation rejoices and gladdens the heart and the soul. On the other hand, over indulging in wine can lead to a bitter spirit, quarrels, and stumbling around. The fool who drinks excessively increases his own anger to his own detriment. Drunkards lose their strength and sometimes get wounded. If you are at a banquet with wine, do not pick an argument with your neighbor. Do not dislike him for having a good time. Do not criticize him or ask him for anything. It is not the right time.

Death and the fool (Prov 27:20-27:22)

“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied.

Human eyes are never satisfied.

The crucible is for silver.

The furnace is for gold.

A person is tested by being praised.

Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle.

Crush him along with crushed grain.

But his folly will not be driven out.”

First we have the insatiable appetite of death, Sheol and Abaddon, the shadowy underworld where people go after they die. This is compared to human eyes that are never satisfied, always looking for new things. Both silver and gold have to go through a crucible furnace. But instead as in chapter 17, here it is praise and not Yahweh that tests the humans. You can try to get the folly out of a fool by putting him in mortar or crushed grain. A pestle is some kind of grinding machine. However, it will be to no avail. You cannot drive the foolishness out of a fool.

Shared wealth (Prov 17:1-17:5)

“Better is a dry morsel with quiet

Than a house full of feasting with strife.

A slave who deals wisely

Will rule over a child who acts shamefully.

The slave will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.

The crucible is for silver.

The furnace is for gold.

Yahweh tests the heart.

An evildoer listens to wicked lips.

A liar gives heed to a mischievous tongue.

Those who mock the poor

Insult their maker.

Those who are glad at calamity

Will not go unpunished.”

You are better off with a dry morsel of bread in quiet peaceful solitude than having a house full of feasting and strife at the same time. A slave who is wise will rule over a child who acts shamefully. In fact, this slave will gain the inheritance as if he was one of the brothers. Both silver and gold have to go through a crucible furnace. So too, Yahweh tests the human heart. An evildoer listens to wicked lips, while a liar follows mischievous tongues. Anyone who mocks poor people actually insults their maker, the creator. Those who are happy about bad news will not go unpunished.

Yahweh is just and righteous (Ps 11:4-11:7)

“Yahweh is in his holy temple.

Yahweh’s throne is in heaven.

His eyes behold.

His gaze examines humankind.

Yahweh tests the righteous and the wicked.

His soul hates the lover of violence.

On the wicked

He will rain coals of fire and sulfur.

Scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

Yahweh is righteous.

Yahweh loves righteous deeds.

The upright shall behold his face.”

Yahweh is in his holy temple on his heavenly throne. He sees and gazes on the whole world. He tests both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. Thus he sends coals of fire and sulfur on these wicked ones. He sends scorching winds on the evil ones. Yahweh is righteous and loves righteous deed. Thus the reward of the just is that they shall see his face.