The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 39


How different the man who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High! He explores the wisdom of the men of old and occupies himself with the prophecies;


He treasures the discourses of famous men, and goes to the heart of involved sayings;


He studies obscure parables, and is busied with the hidden meanings of the sages.


He is in attendance on the great, and has entrance to the ruler.


He travels among the peoples of foreign lands to learn what is good and evil among men.


His care is to seek the LORD, his Maker, to petition the Most High, To open his lips in prayer, to ask pardon for his sins. Then, if it pleases the LORD Almighty, he will be filled with the spirit of understanding; He will pour forth his words of wisdom and in prayer give thanks to the LORD,


Who will direct his knowledge and his counsel, as he meditates upon his mysteries.


He will show the wisdom of what he has learned and glory in the law of the LORD'S covenant.


Many will praise his understanding; his fame can never be effaced; Unfading will be his memory, through all generations his name will live;


Peoples will speak of his wisdom, and in assembly sing his praises.


While he lives he is one out of a thousand, and when he dies his renown will not cease.


1 Once more I will set forth my theme to shine like the moon in its fullness!


Listen, my faithful children: open up your petals, like roses planted near running waters;


Send up the sweet odor of incense, break forth in blossoms like the lily. Send up the sweet odor of your hymn of praise; bless the LORD for all he has done!


Proclaim the greatness of his name, loudly sing his praises, With music on the harp and all stringed instruments; sing out with joy as you proclaim:


The works of God are all of them good; in its own time every need is supplied.


At his word the waters become still as in a flask; he had but to speak and the reservoirs were made.


He has but to command and his will is done; nothing can limit his achievement.


The works of all mankind are present to him; not a thing escapes his eye.


His gaze spans all the ages; to him there is nothing unexpected.


No cause then to say: "What is the purpose of this?" Everything is chosen to satisfy a need.


His blessing overflows like the Nile; like the Euphrates it enriches the surface of the earth.


Again, his wrath expels the nations and turns fertile land into a salt marsh.


For the virtuous his paths are level, to the haughty they are steep;


Good things for the good he provided from the beginning, but for the wicked good things and bad.


Chief of all needs for human life are water and fire, iron and salt, The heart of the wheat, milk and honey, the blood of the grape, and oil, and cloth;


For the good all these are good, but for the wicked they turn out evil.


There are storm winds created to punish, which in their fury can dislodge mountains; When destruction must be, they hurl all their force and appease the anger of their Maker.


In his treasury also, kept for the proper time, are fire and hail, famine, disease,


Ravenous beasts, scorpions, vipers, and the avenging sword to exterminate the wicked;


In doing his bidding they rejoice, in their assignments they disobey not his command.


So from the first I took my stand, and wrote down as my theme:


The works of God are all of them good; every need when it comes he fills.


No cause then to say: "This is not as good as that"; for each shows its worth at the proper time.


So now with full joy of heart proclaim and bless the name of the Holy One.



1 [12-35] The sage invites his disciples to join him in joyfully proclaiming his favorite theme: The works of God are all of them good; in its own time every need is supplied ( Sirach 39:12-16, 32-35). He describes God's omniscience, supreme power and wisdom, whereby all created things, good in themselves, are ever present to him, obey him, and fulfill their intended purpose ( Sirach 39:17-21), bringing blessing to the virtuous, but evil and punishment to the wicked who misuse them ( Sirach 39:22-31). Cf similar hymns of praise, Sirach 36:1-17; 42:15- 43:35.

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