My son, when you come to serve the LORD,
stand in justice and fear,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
incline your ear and receive the word of understanding,
undisturbed in time of adversity.
Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not;
thus will you be wise in all your ways.
Accept whatever befalls you,
when sorrowful, be steadfast,
and in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold and silver are tested,
and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and God will help you;
trust in him, and he will direct your way;
keep his fear and grow old therein.
You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy,
turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the LORD, trust him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the LORD, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
You who fear the LORD, love him,
and your hearts will be enlightened.
Study the generations long past and understand;
has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his commandments and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?
Compassionate and merciful is the LORD;
he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble
and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth.
2:1–11 Serving the Lord is not without its trials (v. 1); but no matter what happens, the genuine believer will remain sincere, steadfast, and faithful (vv. 2–3). Misfortune and humiliation are means of purification to prove one’s worth (vv. 4–5). Ben Sira believed that patience and unwavering trust in God are ultimately rewarded with the benefits of God’s mercy and of lasting joy (vv. 6–11).
Ben Sira warns his disciples about the adversity that the Lord allows as a test of whether or not fear of the Lord is genuine. The idea of preparing oneself for testing even though one serves the Lord is part of the Deuteronomic theory of retribution that legitimated probationary suffering for the virtuous.
In adversity, one must be patient and wait for God’s mercy; if one becomes impatient and turns away, one falls or sins. The “lasting joy” is not the blessedness of the afterlife but rather the well-being of this life. Ben Sira appeals to the testimony of past generations, and the rhetorical questions he asks all demand the answer “No.” The experience of the Ancestors and of the upright men and women of Israel’s history bears eloquent witness to the truth that trust in the Lord will never be in vain.
– Patrick W. Skehan, The Wisdom of Ben Sira
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.