*A Song of God's Mercy*
1. He who lives forever created everything;
2. The Lord alone will be declared righteous,
3. He permitted no one to proclaim His works,
For who can trace out His mighty works?+
4. Who will measure His majestic power with a number,
And who will add to this measure
While describing His mercies?
5. There is no one who can add or subtract,
And there is no one who can search out the wonders of the Lord.
6. When a man completes his search, then he starts over;
And when he stops, he will still be perplexed.
7. What is man and what use is he;
What is his good and what is his evil?
8. The number of a man's days is considered great
If he is one hundred years old.+
9. But like a drop of water from the sea and a grain of sand,
So are a few years within a day of eternity.
10. Therefore the Lord is patient with them
And pours out His mercy upon them.
11. He sees and knows their end, that it is evil;
Therefore He makes full atonement for them.
12. The mercy of a man is upon his neighbor,
But the mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh.
Rebuking, training, and teaching them
Like a shepherd who returns his flock to the fold
13. He has mercy on those who receive His discipline
And who are eager for His judgments.
*Take Care to Be Wise*
14. My son, do not bring disgrace on the good you have done,
Not cause grief by your words when you make a gift.
15. Does not dew give relief from the burning heart?
In the same way, a word is better than a gift.+
16. Indeed, is not a word better than a fitting gift?
And both are found in a gracious man.
17. A fool will insult and disgrace someone,
And the gift of an envious man makes his eyes waste away.
18. Before you speak, learn,
And before you get sick, take care of your health.+
19. Before you make a judgment, examine yourself closely,
And in the hour of visitation you will find atonement.
20. Before you become sick, humble yourself;
And at the time of sinning, prove your conversion.
21. Let nothing hinder you from paying a vow promptly,
And do not wait until death to become righteous.
22. Before you make a vow, prepare yourself;
And do not become like a man who tempts the Lord.+
23. Remember His anger on the day of your death,
At the time of vengeance, when He turns His face away.
24. Remember the time of hunger in the time of plenty,
And poverty and need in the days of wealth.+
25. From morning until evening, time changes;
And all things are soon in the presence of the Lord.
26. A wise man will have the fear of God in everything he does;
And in these days of sin, he will guard against wrongdoing.+
27. Every intelligent man knows wisdom
And praises the one who finds her.
28. The wise in words - they also make others wise,
And they pour forth accurate proverbs.+
29. Do not talk after your own desires,
But restrain your appetites.+
30. If you fill your soul with the desire for pleasure,
It will make you the laughingstock of your enemies.
31. Do not rejoice in great luxury,
Lest you become needy by its expense.
32. Do not become a beggar by feasting on borrowed money
When you have nothing in your purse.
+18:3-6 - The works and wonders of the Lord are of such magnitude and majesty, it is impossible to enumerate them all or to plumb their depths. Augustine has a long and moving sentence on the depth and beauty of Scripture in which he says that if one had a long lifetime to study it at leisure, he could never fathom it all. He concludes by quoting a portion of v. 6: When a man completes he search, then he starts over.
+18:8-10 - Man's inability to consistently practice righteousness, the brevity of even the longest life, and human suffering all move God to be compassionate and merciful.
+18:15,16 - A friendly word often brings more comfort than does a gift. However, a gracious person will give both comforting words and fitting gifts.
+18:18-20 - These serious admonitions apply to one's health and daily life, but their ultimate application is to prepare the soul for final judgment.
+18:22 - Making a vow to the Lord can be as simple as promising Him to give a tithe of one's income, or as all-encompassing as monastic vows (see Nm 6:5, Acts 18:18).
+18:24 - God teaches us that we must use our wealth to help those in need.
+18:26 - Times are changing. In these days of sin, when the culture takes an evil turn, the wise man will be even more careful to guard against wrongdoing.
+18:28 - As one labors to be wise, that virtue will spread to others.
+18:29 - Interestingly, the heading Self-Control appears in the Greek text.