Sirach 4. 20-31 – Indifferent Humility

Continuing our Commentary on Sirach 4:20-31

(20)  Observe the right time, and beware of evil; and do not bring shame on yourself.

Like other passage in Sirach, we find echoes in Paul,

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16 NKJV)

This passage is about individual wisdom, that which should guide us. It is the proverbial wisdom that must be kept about us, in order that we do not find ourselves in shame.

(21)  For there is a shame which brings sin, and there is a shame which is glory and favor.
(22)  Do not show partiality that harms your soul, nor show respect that brings your downfall.
(23)  Do not withhold a word in time of need, and do not hide your wisdom in comeliness.
(24)  For wisdom is known by a word, and instruction through the words of the tongue.
(25)  Never speak against the truth, but be mindful of your ignorance.
(26)  Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to force the river’s flow.

We see much of the same thought in James 5.16, when the Apostle tell us to confess our sins one to another.

(27)  Do not subject yourself to a foolish man, nor show partiality to a ruler.

This is a restatement of v22. To defer to a slave or show partiality to a ruler is a form of self-abasement. Both do the person a disservice.

v21-26 speaks of two shames – one which is sinful (that which we gain through unrighteous acts or through inaction) and that which brings glory and favor (with God – that which is gained by the righteous acts that we do or seek to do, such as repentance or being unbiased to slaves and rulers alike.)

(28)  Fight even to death for the truth and the Lord God will fight for you.

This verse seemingly stands out, as God is but once mentioned in this section, and as a passive, almost outside Force.

(29)  Do not be reckless in your speech, or sluggish and remiss in your deeds.
(30)  Do not be like a lion in your home, nor showing pretense with your servants.

As we have seen in this passage, Sirach uses parallelism that is so often found in the Hebrew. Here he uses the opposite of event to bring the truth. v29 prohibits both aggressive speech and apathetic language. Both do wrong to the person. v30 again says the same thing in that it orders the person to be sober in the home – neither given to exaggeration or vanity.

In regards to verse 30, we find that the household codes written by the Apostle Paul echoes Sirach.

And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. (Ephesians 6:9 NKJV)

Both authors have the same idea – in which the way we treat those around us, especially those ‘under’ us, we will be treated by He who is above us.

(31)  Let not your hand be extended to receive, but withdrawn when it is time to repay.

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