1. Do not desire a multitude of useless children,
Nor rejoice in ungodly sons.+
2. If they multiply, do not rejoice over them
If the fear of the Lord is not in them.
3. Do not trust in their life
Nor pay attention to their multitude;
For one godly child is better than a thousand.
And it is better to die childless than to have ungodly children.
4. For from one child with wisdom a city will be filled with people,
But a tribe of lawless men will make it desolate.
5. My eyes have seen many such things,
And my ear has heard worse things than this.
*Rebuke and Mercy*
6. In the congregation of sinners, a fire will be kindled,
And in a disobedient nation, wrath is kindled.+
7. There was no atonement for the ancient giants
Who turned away from God because of their strength.+
8. He did not spare the cities where Lot sojourned,
Whom He detested because of their arrogance.+
9. He had no mercy on a nation destined for destruction
Who were taken away because of their sins.
10. The same thing happened to the six hundred thousand foot-soldiers
Who gathered together in their hardness of heart.
11. Even if there was only one stiff-necked man,
It would be a marvel if he were to remain unpunished.
For mercy and wrath belong to the Lord,
And He is mighty to forgive;
And He pours out wrath.
12. As great as His mercy, so also great is His rebuke,
And He will judge a man according to his works.+
13. A sinner will not escape with his spoils,
And the patience of a godly man will not fare badly.
14. He will make a place for every act of mercy,
Each will find this out according to his works.
*None Remain Anonymous*
15. Do not say, "I will be hidden from the Lord,
And who will remember me from on high?
I will not be known among so many people,
For what is my soul in comparison to the immeasurable creation?+
16. Behold, heaven and the highest heaven,
The abyss and the earth will be shaken at His visitation.
17. At the same time, the mountains and the foundations of the earth
Will shake with trembling when He looks upon them.
18. No heart will be able to think about these things,
And who will ponder His ways?
19. There will be a sudden blast of wind which no man will see,
For most of His works will be done in secret.
20. Who will proclaim His works of righteousness,
Or who will endure them?
For His covenant is far off."
21. This is what a man thinks
Who is diminished in heart and without discernment,
Who is deceived and thinks foolishly.
22. Listen to me, my son, and gain knowledge,
And pay close attention to my words in your heart.+
23. I will reveal instruction with balance,
And I will proclaim knowledge with exactness.
*The Majesty of Creation*
24. By the judgment of the Lord, His works exist from the beginning,
And from their creation, He determined their boundaries.
25. He ordered their works forever,
And their principles according to their generations.
They neither hunger nor grow weary,
And they do not cease from their works.
26. Each does not afflict the one close to him,
And they will never disobey His word.
27. After this the Lord looked upon the earth
And filled it with His good things.
28. He covered its surface with the life of every living creature,
And to it they will return again.
+16:1-3 - A multitude of children is seen in Scripture as a blessing from God (Gn 24:60; Ps 127:3-6). But God forbid they be useless or ungodly.
+16:6 - A fire will be kindled and wrath is kindled are references to the stirring up of sinful human passions.
+16:7 - The ancient giants are mentioned in Gn 6:4; WSol 14:6;Bar 3:26; and 3Mc 2:4. They are described as expert men of war, arrogant, insolent, foolish, mighty, and trusting in their own strength. They were destroyed by God in the flood.
+16:8,9 - The men of Sodom are referred to here. In Ezk 16:49, 50 God declares the people of Sodom were arrogant and had abundant food and wine, but were unconcerned for the poor and needy. They also committed "acts of lawlessness" before God, which are described in Gn 19: homosexual acts of incredible disgust. The Sodomites were so "haughty" they had to be dealt with by God in extreme harshness.
+16:10 - During their sojourn in the wilderness, God allowed the 600,000 foot-soldiers of Israel to die because of their hardness of heart.
+16:12-14 - The OT and NT teach us that God holds all mankind accountable and will judge us according to our works (see Ps 61:13; Pr 24:12; Mt 25:31-46).
+16:15-21 - Ben Sirach understands well the mind of the skeptic who refuses to believe in God. Because the unbeliever does not admit that outside his limited realm of finite wisdom God could exist, the author calls him diminished in heart, without discernment and deceived (v. 21).
+16:22,23 - Ben Sirach here offers one of the finest evangelism lessons in the OT. His premise: A teachable person will receive precise and accurate knowledge from God. How? He will recognize God has created everything in exactness of order, and the way to find harmony and peace in life is to find our place in His plan and order. The author also gives instruction on (1) the creation of the world (16:24-28), (2) the creation of man (17:1-8), (3) God's revelation through His covenant (17:9-19), and (4) how to return to God (17:20-27).