Monthly Meditations: Sirach continued


Sirach, like the Psalms, appeals to God’s interests: God’s people and Temple should be glorious. God’s prophecies should be fulfilled.  All should know that he is God (36:1-22).

Ever practical, Sirach cautions against taking advice too easily from others, especially those with vested interests. Sirach combines the natural wisdom discoverable by human reason and experience, with what is divinely revealed in the Law of the Lord. He combines reason and faith. In the end his advice is to keep the commandments, follow the heart, and pray for guidance: “All counselors praise the counsel they give, but some give counsel in their own interest. Be wary of a counselor, and learn first what is his interest, for he will take thought for himself. He may cast the lot against you and tell you, ‘Your way is good,’ and then stand aside to see what happens to you. Do not consult the one who regards you with suspicion; hide your intentions from those who are jealous of you. Do not consult … with a coward about war, with a merchant about business or with a buyer about selling, with a miser about generosity or with the merciless about kindness, with an idler about any work or with a seasonal laborer about completing his work, with a lazy servant about a big task—pay no attention to any advice they give. But associate with a godly person whom you know to be a keeper of the commandments, who is like-minded with yourself, and who will grieve with you if you fail. And heed the counsel of your own heart, for no one is more faithful to you than it is… But above all pray to the Most High that he may direct your way in truth” (37:7-15).

Sirach 38:16-23 urges restraint in mourning.  He warns against excesses in mourning—a delicate and sensitive issue since each mourns differently. In this, he is likely referring to the mourning customs of his own day. Mourn intensely, he advises, but there are harmful effects to excessive mourning. For Sirach, grief should be placed in its proper perspective.

In chapter 39 he deals with the problem of evil.  He affirms the goodness of creation and the absolute sovereignty of God over it. There is a purpose to everything in God’s will and plan. At the right time, God’s time, all questions will be answered. God’s purposes will be fulfilled. Everything has been created for its own purpose. In God’s sight, there is a reason for everything (39:16-21).