Sirach, CHAPTER 51
A PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
I give you thanks, LORD and King,
I praise you, God my savior!
I declare your name, refuge of my life,
because you have ransomed my life from death;
You held back my body from the pit,
and delivered my foot from the power of Sheol.
You have preserved me from the scourge of the slanderous tongue,
and from the lips of those who went over to falsehood.
You were with me against those who rise up against me;
You have rescued me according to your abundant mercy
From the snare of those who look for my downfall,
and from the power of those who seek my life.
From many dangers you have saved me,
from flames that beset me on every side,
From the midst of fire till there was not a whiff of it,
from the deep belly of Sheol,
From deceiving lips and painters of lies,
from the arrows of a treacherous tongue.
I was at the point of death,
my life was nearing the depths of Sheol;
I turned every way, but there was no one to help;
I looked for support but there was none.
Then I remembered the mercies of the LORD,
his acts of kindness through ages past;
For he saves those who take refuge in him,
and rescues them from every evil.
So I raised my voice from the grave;
from the gates of Sheol I cried for help.
I called out: LORD, you are my Father,
my champion, my savior!
Do not abandon me in time of trouble,
in the midst of storms and dangers.
I will always praise your name
and remember you in prayer!
Then the LORD heard my voice,
and listened to my appeal.
He saved me from every evil
and preserved me in time of trouble.
For this reason I thank and praise him;
I bless the name of the LORD.
BEN SIRA’S PURSUIT OF WISDOM
When I was young and innocent,
I sought wisdom.
She came to me in her beauty,
and until the end I will cultivate her.
As the blossoms yielded to ripening grapes,
the heart’s joy,
My feet kept to the level path
because from earliest youth I was familiar with her.
In the short time I paid heed,
I met with great instruction.
Since in this way I have profited,
I will give my Teacher grateful praise.
I resolved to tread her paths;
I have been jealous for the good and will not turn back.
I burned with desire for her,
I became preoccupied with her,
never weary of extolling her.
I spread out my hands to the heavens
and I came to know her secrets.
For her I purified my hands;
in cleanness I attained to her.
At first acquaintance with her, I gained understanding
such that I will never forsake her.
My whole being was stirred to seek her;
therefore I have made her my prize possession.
The LORD has rewarded me with lips,
with a tongue for praising him.
Come aside to me, you untutored,
and take up lodging in the house of instruction;
How long will you deprive yourself of wisdom’s food,
how long endure such bitter thirst?
I open my mouth and speak of her:
gain wisdom for yourselves at no cost.
Take her yoke upon your neck;
that your mind may receive her teaching.
For she is close to those who seek her,
and the one who is in earnest finds her.
See for yourselves! I have labored only a little,
but have found much.
Acquire but a little instruction,
and you will win silver and gold through her.
May your soul rejoice in God’s mercy;
do not be ashamed to give him praise.
Work at your tasks in due season,
and in his own time God will give you your reward.