The starving children (Lam 4:4-4:4)

Daleth

“The tongue

Of the infant

Sticks

To the roof

Of its mouth

For thirst.

The children

Beg for food.

But no one gives

Them anything.”

The situation in Jerusalem was dire, since the infants are so thirsty that their tongues stick to the roof of their mouths. The children had to beg for food. But even then, there was no one to give them food. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Daleth in this acrostic poem.

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Creation of humans (Sir 17:1-17:7)

“The Lord created human beings

Out of the earth.

He makes them return to it again.

He gave them a fixed number of days.

He granted them authority

Over everything on the earth.

He endowed them with strength

Like his own.

He made them in his own image.

He put the fear of them

In all living beings.

He gave them dominion

Over beasts.

He gave them dominion

Over birds.

They obtained the use of

The five faculties of the Lord.

As sixth,

He distributed to them the gift of mind.

As seventh,

He gave them reason,

The interpreter of one’s faculties.

He gave them a tongue

He gave them eyes.

He gave them ears.

He gave them discretion to think.

He filled them with knowledge.

He filled them with understanding.

He showed them good and evil.”

Sirach used the first chapter of Genesis in his understanding of the created nature world before the creation of humans, who were superior to all creation. These humans came from the earth and would return to it just like all the other living creatures. These humans had a fixed number of days, but they had authority over everything on earth. Nature was for the use of humans. The Lord created them in his own image and with strength like his. Thus humans were a reflection of God. All living things feared humans, since they had dominion over animals and birds. Using the Stoic interpretation of man, he had 5 faculties, but the Lord added 2 more, the mind and reason that were not in other living things. These humans had tongues, eyes, and ears. They also were able to think. Thus they were filled with knowledge and understanding. The Lord showed them both good and evil. Clearly, Sirach believed that humans were the high point of creation.

Deliver me from evil men (Ps 140:1-140:3)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David

“Deliver me!

Yahweh!

From evil men.

Protect me

From those who are violent.

Protect me

From those who plan evil things in their minds.

Protect me

From those who stir up wars continually.

They make their tongue sharp as a snake’s tongue.

Under their lips is the poison of vipers.”

Selah

Psalm 140 is another in this series of deliverance choral psalms of David. This is a lament against evil men. David wants to be protected from violent people, evil minds, and war mongers. These evil men have tongues like snakes.   Their lips were like the poison of vipers. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

Yahweh has done great things (Ps 126:1-126:3)

A song of ascents

“When Yahweh restored the fortunes of Zion,

We were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter.

Our tongue was filled with shouts of joy.

Then it was said among the nations.

‘Yahweh has done great things for them.’

Yahweh has done great things for us.

We rejoiced.”

Psalm 126 is another of these short pilgrimage songs or psalms of ascent. Once again, it is a short prayer for deliverance at the time of the return from captivity. When the Israelites under Ezra were restored to Jerusalem and Mount Zion, it was like a dream come true. Their mouths and tongues were filled with laughter and joy. Then the various countries said that Yahweh had done great things for them. The Israelites realized that Yahweh had done great things for them so that they rejoiced.

Save David from his enemies (Ps 64:1-64:6)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David

“Hear my voice!

O God!

In my complaint!

Preserve my life

From the dreaded enemy.

Hide me

From the secret plots of the wicked.

Hide me

From the scheming of evildoers.

They whet their tongues like swords.

They aim bitter words like arrows.

They shoot from an ambush at the blameless.

They shoot suddenly.

They shoot without fear.

They hold fast to their evil purpose.

They talk of laying snares secretly.

They think.

‘Who can see us?

Who can search out our crimes?

We have thought out

A cunningly conceived plot.’

The human heart and mind are deep!”

Psalm 64 is a choral psalm of David. Once again David wanted to save his life from his enemies. He wanted to be hidden from the secret plots of the wicked and the schemes of the evildoers. Their tongues were like swords. Their words were like arrows from a bow and arrow. They shot suddenly and without fear from various ambushes. They laid secret snares for David with their evil purposes. They thought that no one saw them. No one was going after their crimes. They thought that they had a great cunning plan. Finally David notes that the human heart and mind are deep. This is a little bit like Psalm 58.

The righteous have wisdom (Ps 37:30-37:31)

Phe     

“The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom.

Their tongues speak justice.

The law of their God is in their hearts.

Their steps do not slip.”

The righteous ones utter wise statements since they are wise. They speak justice with their tongues because the law of God is in their hearts. Thus their steps never slip or fail.

People honored Job in the old days (Job 29:7-29:10)

“When I went out to the gate of the city,

When I took my seat in the square,

The young men saw me and withdrew.

The aged rose up and stood.

The nobles refrained from talking.

They laid their hands on their mouths.

The voices of princes were hushed.

Their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.”

Once again, Job remembered the good old days, when he would go out to the city gate and take his seat in the square. He speaks in the first person singular. He might have been on the city judicial council since that is where they would meet. The young men would step back. The old men would stand up for him. The nobles and the princes were hushed in their tones, as they hardly said a word, as if their tongues were stuck in their mouths. They put their hands over their mouths. There was a lot of respect in his community shown to Job in those days.