Samuel (Sir 46:13-46:20)

“Samuel was beloved by his Lord.

He was a prophet of the Lord.

He established the kingdom.

He anointed rulers over his people.

By the law of the Lord

He judged the congregation.

The Lord watched over Jacob.

By his faithfulness,

He proved to be a prophet.

By his words,

He became known as a trustworthy seer.

He called upon the Lord,

The Mighty One,

When his enemies

Pressed him on every side.

He offered in sacrifice

A sucking lamb.

Then the Lord thundered from heaven.

He made his voice heard

With a mighty sound.

He subdued the leaders of the enemy

In Tyre.

He subdued all the rulers of the Philistines.

Before the time of his eternal sleep,

Samuel bore witness before the Lord.

Samuel bore witness before his anointed.

‘No property,

Not so much as a pair of shoes,

Have I taken from anyone!’

No one accused him.

Even after he had fallen asleep,

He prophesied.

He made known to the king his death.

He lifted up his voice from the ground.

In prophecy,

He wanted to blot out

The wickedness of the people.”

Next Sirach praises Samuel, the prophet who was a judge and founder of the monarchy. There is a Hebrew biblical book called Samuel that was later divided into 2 parts. He was a beloved trustworthy faithful prophet. He called upon the Lord when the enemies surrounded him. He offered a sacrifice of a lamb. He defeated the enemies at Tyre and the Philistines. Samuel anointed 2 kings, Saul and David. He never took any property from anyone, not even a pair of shoes. Even after his death, prophecies from the grave came to the king. He continually wanted to blot out the wickedness of his people.

Do not mourn excessively (Sir 38:18-38:23)

“Grief may result in death.

A sorrowful heart

Saps one’s strength.

When a person is taken away,

Sorrow is over.

But the life of the poor

Weighs down the heart.

Do not give your heart

To sorrow!

Drive it away!

Remember your own end.

Do not forget!

There is no coming back.

You do the dead no good.

You injure yourself.

Remember his fate.

Yours is like it.

Yesterday it was his.

Today it is yours.

Me yesterday!

You today!

When the dead is at rest,

Let his remembrance rest also.

Be comforted for him

When his spirit has departed.”

Sirach did not want a long mourning period because grief could lead to the death of the person grieving. A sad heart can sap your strength. When the person was buried, the period of sorrow should end despite the fact that your heart is still heavy. Drive away sorrow and grief. Remember you own life. There is no coming back from the grave. You can’t do anything for the dead. You may injure yourself. Your fate will be the same as his. He was here yesterday and gone today. Your fate may be the same, here today and gone tomorrow. When the dead are at rest, let their remembrance die with them. Their spirit has departed, since we have the Greek idea of body and spirit.

The power of love (Song 8:5-8:7)

Male lover

“Under the apple tree I awakened you.

There your mother was in labor with you.

There she who bore you was in labor.

Set me as a seal upon your heart.

Set me as a seal upon your arm.

Love is as strong as death.

Passion is as fierce as the grave.

Its flashes are flashes of fire.

It is a raging flame.

Many waters cannot quench love.

Neither can floods drown it.

If one offered for love

All the wealth of one’s house,

It would be utterly scorned.”

The male lover woke his lover up under the apple tree. He maintains that it was there that she was born from the labor of her mother. Now he wants his lover to bear his seal on her heart and on her arm. The seal was a sense of ownership. Then he went on to talk about the power of love. Love is just as strong as death. Passion is just as fierce as the grave. The love flashes of fire become a raging flame that no water can quench. Not even a flood can drown out love. If someone offers all the wealth they had, the lover would scorn it for his true love.

Watch your companions (Prov 1:10-1:19)

“My child!

If sinners entice you,

Do not consent!

If they say.

‘Come with us!

Let us lie in wait for blood!

Let us wantonly ambush the innocent!

Like Sheol,

Let us swallow them alive and whole!

Like those who go down to the Pit,

We shall find all kinds of costly things.

We shall fill our houses with booty.

Throw in your lot among us!

We will all have one purse.’

My child!

Do not walk in their way!

Keep your foot from their paths!

Their feet run to evil.

They hurry to shed blood.

For in vain is a net baited,

While the bird is looking on.

Yet they lie in wait,

To kill themselves.

They set an ambush

For their own lives.

Such is the end

Of all who are greedy for gain.

It takes away the life of its possessors.”

The main parental advice of these proverbs is to stay away from evil people. Do not let sinners entice you! Stay away from those who want to ambush innocent people in order to spill their blood. They seem to think that they can swallow people up like Sheol or the pit, the grave, does. This part appears to not sound enticing, but the kicker enticement was filling up your house with spoils and booty. They would all share together with one purse. Parents should warn their children not to walk in their paths or let their feet walk in their ways. These wicked ones hurry to shed blood. However, they set a net while the birds are watching so that their own ambush will kill them. This is the end for those who are greedy and want to kill others so that they would have their goods.

Blessed be Yahweh (Ps 103:1-103:5)

A psalm of David                 

“Bless Yahweh!

O my soul!

All that is within me,

Bless his holy name!

Bless Yahweh!

O my soul!

Do not forget all his benefits!

Who forgives all your iniquity?

Who heals all your diseases?

Who redeems your life from the Pit?

Who crowns you with steadfast love?

Who crowns you with mercy?

Who satisfies you with good

As long as you live?

Thus your youth is renewed like the eagles.”

Psalm 103 is simply a thanksgiving psalm of David. In the opening verses, he repeats the same phrases. Yahweh is to be blessed from his soul. Then David pointed out all the benefits of Yahweh with a series of questions. Yahweh forgives iniquities. He heals all diseases. He saves people from the pit or the grave. He crowns us with steadfast love, mercy, and goodness. He sustains our lives so that we remain young eagles.

The fate of all is the same (Ps 49:10-49:13)

“When we look at the wise,

They die.

The fool and the stupid perish together.

They leave their wealth to others.

Their graves are their homes forever.

Their dwelling places are for all generations,

Even though they named lands as their own.

Mortals cannot abide in their pomp.

They are like the animals that perish.

This is the fate

Of the foolhardy.

This is the end

Of those who are pleased with their lot.”

Selah

This psalmist reminds us to the look at the wise people, much like himself. They die. However, so do the fools and stupid people also die. Their wealth is given to others. Their house is no longer opulent since their home is the dwelling place of all people for generations to come, the grave. Mortals cannot keep their pomp forever, since they are like animals that die. This is the fate of all, to die. Even those who are foolhardy and pleased with their lot in life, they will come to an end. On that happy note, it is time for the usual musical interlude pause of Selah.

Useless wealth (Ps 49:5-49:9)

“Why should I fear in times of trouble?

The iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me.

They are those who trust in their wealth.

They are those who boast of the abundance of their riches.

Truly,

No one can ransom himself.

Ther is no price

That one can give to God for it.

The ransom of his life is costly.

The ransom can never suffice.

How can one continue to live on forever?

How can they never see the pit?”

The psalmist wanted to know why he should be afraid. His persecutors were wicked iniquitous men who trusted and boasted about their abundant wealth. Nobody could ransom themselves. There was no price that they could give to God to save their own lives. No ransom could save a person’s life forever. Everyone would die and go down to the pit or the grave.