Wisdom from the book of Sirach

holy wisdom

Holy Wisdom

The author of the Wisdom of Sirach is Jesus ben Sirach who was a Jewish scribe writing

somewhere around 200 to 174 before the time of our Lord. The book was written in Hebrew but no copies of the original exist. Only Greek copies. The 39 Articles of Religion, a Reformed Anglican confession of faith, gives us a list of books that,

“(as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine…”

This list of books includes the Wisdom of Sirach sometimes referred to by its older name Ecclesiasticus. Honestly, this is one of my favourite books to read from as it offers clear, straight forward advice grounded in the revelation of God. Richard Baxter wrote, “A Christian Directory,” in which he offers sage Christian advice. I consider this book in the same vain, it is a support to religion, but not of Divine inspiration.

All quotations are taken from the text of the St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint aka The Orthodox Study Bible.

Grace

“My son, accomplish your works with gentlness, And you will be loved by people the Lord accepts. The greater you are, the more humble you must be, And you will find grace before the Lord.” 3.17-18 SAAS

“A man without grace is like a story told at the wrong time; It will continue on the lips of the ignorant.” 20.19 SAAS

“There is an astute man who is a teacher of many, But is useless to his own soul. A man who devises words craftily will be hated. This man will go hungry, For grace was not given to him from the Lord, Because he is destitute of all wisdom.” 37.19-21 SAAS

The Incarnation

“To whom has the root of wisdom been revealed? And who has come to know her great deeds? There is one who is wise and is feared exceedingly. He who sits upon His throne. The Lord Himself created wisdom. He saw and numbered her And poured her out on all His works.” 1.5-7 SAAS

Humility

“If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, And the Lord will supply it to you. For the feat of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and instruction, And His good pleasure is faith and gentleness. Do not disobey the fear of the Lord, And do not come to Him with a divided heart. Do not be a hypocrite in the sight of men, And be careful with your lips. Do not exalt yourself, lest you fall And bring dishonor to your soul. The Lord shall reveal your secrets, And in the midst of the assembly He will strike you down, Because you did not come in the fear of the Lord, And your heart was full of deceit.” 1.23-27 SAAS

“The greater you are, the more humble you must be, And you will find grace before the Lord.” 3.18 SAAS

“Forgive wrong done you by your neighbor; Then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.” 28.2 SAAS

“The prayer of a humble man passes through the clouds, And he will not be comforted until it reaches the Lord;” 35.17 SAAS

Praise and Glory to God

“Fill Zion with the celebration of Your divine virtue And Your people with Your glory. Give testimony to what You created in the beginning And raise up the prophecies spoken in Your name.” 36.13-14 SAAS

“The Lord did not enable His saints To describe all His wonders, Which the Lord Almighty established That the universe might be established in His glory. He traced out the abyss and the human heart And understands their craftiness; For the Most High possesses all knowledge And sees into the signs of an age.” 42.17-18 SAAS

Prayer

“O Lord, Father and Master of my life,
Do not leave me to their counsel,
Nor let me fall because of them.
Who will set whips over my thoughts
And the discipline of wisdom over my heart,

So they may not spare me in my  errors,

Nor neglect me in my sins?
Lest my mistakes be multiplied
And my sins abound,
Then I would not fall before my adversaries,

And my enemy would not rejoice over me.

O Lord, Father and the God of my life,
do not give me haughty eyes,
But turn me away from evil desire.
Do not let gluttony or lust overcome me,
Nor give me up to a shameless sou.” 23.1-6 SAAS

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Mourning the Departed

Image result for wisdom of sirach

I’ve posted this before but I thought it may be of some use to my brothers and sisters who have trouble grieving.
“My son, let tears fall down over the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harm thyself; and then cover his body according to the custom, and neglect not his burial.

Weep bitterly, and make great moan, and use lamentation, as he is worthy, and that a day or two, lest thou be evil spoken of: and then comfort thyself for thy heaviness.

For of heaviness cometh death, and the heaviness of the heart breaketh strength. In affliction also sorrow remaineth: and the life of the poor is the curse of the heart.

Take no heaviness to heart: drive it away, and member the last end. Forget it not, for there is no turning again: thou shalt not do him good, but hurt thyself. Remember my judgment: for thine also shall be so; yesterday for me, and to day for thee. When the dead is at rest, let his remembrance rest; and be comforted for him, when his Spirit is departed from him.” Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Sirach) Chapter 38.16-23 Authorized King James Version

From The Orthodox Study Bible, “Proper mourning for the dead is essential to the healing of our grief. An honorable burial for the departed was considered a great work of mercy in the ancient Church. Each parish had its volunteers who washed and dressed the body, making preparation for burial. We are warned not to allow our hearts to be grief-stricken (v.18) so grief overpowers us, for some have even died from grief. Thus, St. Paul says we grieve, but not as those “who have no hope” (1 Th. 4:13) (END QUOTE)

John Gill on 1 Th. 4.13, “the apostle’s view is not to encourage and establish a stoical apathy, a stupid indolence, and a brutal insensibility, which are contrary to the make of human nature, to the practice of the saints, and even of Christ and his apostles, and our apostle himself; but to forbid excessive and immoderate sorrow, and all the extravagant forms of it the Gentiles ran into; who having no notion of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, had no hope of ever seeing their friends more,

but looked upon them as entirely lost,

as no longer in being,

and never more to be met with, seen, and enjoyed;

this drove them to extravagant actions, furious transports, and downright madness; as to throw off their clothes, pluck off their hair, tear their flesh, cut themselves, and make baldness between their eyes for the dead; see Deuteronomy 14:1 practices forbidden the Jews, and which very ill become Christians, that believe the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead:

the words are to be understood not of other Christians, who have no hope of the eternal welfare of their deceased friends; not but that the sorrow of those who have a good hope of the future Well being of their dear relatives, must and ought to be greatly different from that of others, who have no hope at all: it is observed by the Jews on those words in Genesis 23:2 and “Abraham came to mourn for Sarah”

“it is not said to weep for Sarah, but to mourn for her; “for such a woman as this, it is not fit to weep”, after her soul is joined in the bundle of life, but to mourn for her, and do her great honour at her funeral; though because it is not possible that a man should not weep for his dead, it is said at the end, “and to weep for her”:’

but here the words are to be understood of the other Gentiles that were in a state of nature and unregeneracy, who had no knowledge of the resurrection of the dead, or and hope of a future state, and of enjoying their friends in it: they are called οι λοιποι, “the rest”; and the Syriac version renders it, “other men”. (END QUOTE)

Grieve passionately for a time but keep in mind the hope we have in Christ.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Mourning the Departed

Image result for wisdom of sirachMy son, let tears fall down over the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harm thyself; and then cover his body according to the custom, and neglect not his burial.

Weep bitterly, and make great moan, and use lamentation, as he is worthy, and that a day or two, lest thou be evil spoken of: and then comfort thyself for thy heaviness.

For of heaviness cometh death, and the heaviness of the heart breaketh strength. In affliction also sorrow remaineth: and the life of the poor is the curse of the heart.

Take no heaviness to heart: drive it away, and member the last end. Forget it not, for there is no turning again: thou shalt not do him good, but hurt thyself. Remember my judgment: for thine also shall be so; yesterday for me, and to day for thee. When the dead is at rest, let his remembrance rest; and be comforted for him, when his Spirit is departed from him.” Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Sirach) Chapter 38.16-23 Authorized King James Version

From The Orthodox Study Bible, “Proper mourning for the dead is essential to the healing of our grief. An honorable burial for the departed was considered a great work of mercy in the ancient Church. Each parish had its volunteers who washed and dressed the body, making preparation for burial. We are warned not to allow our hearts to be grief-stricken (v.18) so grief overpowers us, for some have even died from grief. Thus, St. Paul says we grieve, but not as those “who have no hope” (1 Th. 4:13) (END QUOTE)

John Gill on 1 Th. 4.13, “the apostle’s view is not to encourage and establish a stoical apathy, a stupid indolence, and a brutal insensibility, which are contrary to the make of human nature, to the practice of the saints, and even of Christ and his apostles, and our apostle himself; but to forbid excessive and immoderate sorrow, and all the extravagant forms of it the Gentiles ran into; who having no notion of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, had no hope of ever seeing their friends more,

but looked upon them as entirely lost,

as no longer in being,

and never more to be met with, seen, and enjoyed;

this drove them to extravagant actions, furious transports, and downright madness; as to throw off their clothes, pluck off their hair, tear their flesh, cut themselves, and make baldness between their eyes for the dead; see Deuteronomy 14:1 practices forbidden the Jews, and which very ill become Christians, that believe the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead:

the words are to be understood not of other Christians, who have no hope of the eternal welfare of their deceased friends; not but that the sorrow of those who have a good hope of the future Well being of their dear relatives, must and ought to be greatly different from that of others, who have no hope at all: it is observed by the Jews on those words in Genesis 23:2 and “Abraham came to mourn for Sarah”

“it is not said to weep for Sarah, but to mourn for her; “for such a woman as this, it is not fit to weep”, after her soul is joined in the bundle of life, but to mourn for her, and do her great honour at her funeral; though because it is not possible that a man should not weep for his dead, it is said at the end, “and to weep for her”:’

but here the words are to be understood of the other Gentiles that were in a state of nature and unregeneracy, who had no knowledge of the resurrection of the dead, or and hope of a future state, and of enjoying their friends in it: they are called οι λοιποι, “the rest”; and the Syriac version renders it, “other men”. (END QUOTE)

Grieve passionately for a time but keep in mind the hope we have in Christ.

Yours in the Lord,

jm