Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Ancients. The Essenes (Josephus, Jewish Wars i. 7.) and Therapeuts (Philo, Comtemp.) were most famous for doing so. In general the Jews despise the learning of foreign nations: but some have applied themselves to it, particularly Philo, Josephus, &c., 1 Machabees i. 11., and 2 Machabees vi. 11.) — Prophets. These required the utmost study, before the coming of Christ, 1 Peter i. 11., and Daniel ix. 9. (Calmet) — The virtuous must follow both an active and contemplative life. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Sayings, or history of Abraham, &c. — Parables. This was most in vogue, 3 Kings x. — But mechanics abstained from this study, chap. xxxviii. 38. (Calmet) — To meditate well, 1. knowledge; 2. virtue; 3. humility; and 4. hope, are requisite. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Governor of the province or army. The most enlightened were chosen, like Joseph, Daniel i. 4., &c.
Ver. 5. Men. Travelling was very requisite, (chap. xxxiv. 11.) and history records the actions of the bad as well as of the good, for the instruction of the public.
Ver. 6. Pray. Diligence and prayer are the means to acquire wisdom, chap. iv. 13.
Ver. 9. Lord, being in a sort of rapture, and enlightened by Him.
Ver. 13. Generation. With what care do we not preserve the Scriptures? &c.
Ver. 15. Thousand. Children or other men. — Rest, in death. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. With. Greek, “as the moon in the first quarter,” dichomenia. The Vulgate has read Diomenia, “divine transport.” The author declares that he was inspired. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. By. Greek, “Hear me, ye holy children.” — Offspring. Literally, “fruits.” (Haydock) — He speaks to the children of Israel, the people of God: whom he exhorts to bud forth and flourish with virtue. (Challoner)
Ver. 19. Bring. Greek, “praise a canticle.”
Ver. 20. Voice. Greek, “songs of your lips, (Haydock) and with ancient lyres,” &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Waters. At the world’s creation, or at the passage of the Israelites. [Exodus xiv. 21., and Josue iii. 13.] (Calmet)
Ver. 23. Salvation. None can prevent the salvation of God’s elect. (Haydock)
Ver. 25. Wonderful, or new. (Calmet) — The greatest miracles cost him nothing. (Haydock)
Ver. 26. Time. The veil shall be withdrawn, and Providence will appear. Greek, “all things are made for their proper use.”
Ver. 28. That. Greek, “as he changed the waters into saltness,” (Haydock) at Sodom, (Calmet) “his ways are plain for the saints: so to sinners they are stumbling-blocks,” ver. 30. The Red Sea gave a passage to Israel, and overwhelmed the Egyptians. (Haydock) — Him. God does all with grandeur. He poured his graces upon Israel, and overwhelmed the giants in the deluge. (Calmet)
Ver. 30. Good and, is omitted in Greek. Before the fall, all was happiness. Now, the wicked have still some mixture of good, ver. 32. (Bossuet)
Ver. 31. Water and fire. These are requisite to prepare bread. The Romans refused them to the enemies of the state. — Cluster. Greek, “blood,” as [in] Deuteronomy xxxii. 14. (Calmet) — God gives the necessaries of life, which the virtuous use well, for their reward; and the wicked ill, to their ruin. (Worthington)
Ver. 32. Evil. The good or bad use of them decides all, Wisdom xiv. 11., Romans viii. 18., and Titus i. 15.
Ver. 33. Spirits. Storms (Psalm x. 7., and cxlviii. 8.) good angels, (Genesis xix. 11., and Isaias xxxvii. 36.) or rather devils: who, though created in holiness, fell, and became executioners of the wicked. (Calmet) — They abused their free-will, and are eternally punished. (Worthington)
Ver. 34. Destruction, and final ruin of the impious, or at the last day. (Calmet) — Appease. God is pleased with the execution of justice. (Menochius) — Yet the devils cannot obtain a reconciliation; neither do they act to please God, having their wills obstinately bent against his, though they be forced to obey. (Haydock)
Ver. 36. Beasts. Wolves, &c., with which the country was infested, Deuteronomy vii. 22., and xxii. 24. — Sword. War.
Ver. 37. Feast. Greek, “rejoice,” as at a feast, Ezechiel xxxix. 16. — Word. They will be ready at the first sign. (Calmet) — All creatures, but the rebel angels and man, obey God. (Haydock)
Ver. 38. Resolved. Literally, “confirmed” in this opinion by a divine light, ver. 16, 21.
Ver. 39. Time. If we receive not at first, we must have patience.
Ver. 40. That. Even sin contributes to manifest the justice and mercy of God; and we are not to judge of his works, but to praise him; as every thing is created for wise purposes, and evil proceeds from our abuse of things. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The exercises of the wise man. The Lord is to be glorified for his works.
1 The wise man will seek out the wisdom of all the ancients, and will be occupied in the prophets.
2 He will keep the sayings of renowned men, and will enter withal into the subtilties of parables.
3 He will search out the hidden meanings of proverbs, and will be conversant in the secrets of parables.
4 He shall serve among great men, and: appear before the governor.
5 He shall pass into strange countries: for he shall try good and evil among men:
6 He will give his heart to resort early to the Lord, that made him, and he will pray in the sight of the Most High.
7 He will open his mouth in prayer, and will make supplication for his sins.
8 For if it shall please the great Lord, he will fill him with the spirit of understanding:
9 And he will pour forth the words of his wisdom as showers, and in his prayer he will confess to the Lord.
10 And he shall direct his counsel, and his knowledge, and in his secrets shall he meditate.
11 He shall shew forth the discipline he hath learned, and shall glory in the law of the covenant of the Lord.
12 Many shall praise his wisdom, and it shall never be forgotten.
13 The memory of him shall not depart away, and his name shall be in request from generation to generation.
14 Nations shall declare his wisdom, and the church shall shew forth his praise.
15 If he continue, he shall leave a name above a thousand: and if he rest, it shall be to his advantage.
16 I will yet meditate, that I may declare: for I am filled as with a holy transport.
17 By a voice he saith: Hear me, ye divine offspring, and bud forth as the rose planted by the brooks of waters.
18 Give ye a sweet odour as frankincense.
19 Send forth flowers, as the lily, and yield a smell, and bring forth leaves in grace, and praise with canticles, and bless the Lord in his works.
20 Magnify his name, and give glory to him with the voice of your lips, and with the canticles of your mouths, and with harps: and in praising him, you shall say in this manner:
21 *All the works of the Lord are exceeding good.
22 *At his word the waters stood as a heap: and at the words of his mouth the receptacles of waters:
23 For at his commandment favour is shewn, and there is no diminishing of his salvation.
24 The works of all flesh are before him, and there is nothing hid from his eyes.
25 He seeth from eternity to eternity, and there is nothing wonderful before him.
26 There is no saying: What is this, or what is that? for all things shall be sought in their time.
27 His blessing hath overflowed like a river:
28 *And as a flood hath watered the earth; so shall his wrath inherit the nations that have not sought after him:
29 *Even as he turned the waters into a dry land, and the earth was made dry: and his ways were made plain for their journey: so to sinners they are stumbling-blocks in his wrath.
30 Good things were created for the good from the beginning; so for the wicked, good and evil things.
31 *The principal things necessary for the life of men, are: water, fire, and iron, salt, milk, and bread of flour, and honey, and the cluster of the grape, and oil, and clothing.
32 All these things shall be for good to the holy; so to the sinners, and the ungodly, they shall be turned into evil.
33 There are spirits that are created for vengeance, and in their fury they lay on grievous torments:
34 In the time of destruction they shall pour out their force: and they shall appease the wrath of him that made them.
35 Fire, hail, famine, and death: all these were created for vengeance.
36 The teeth of beasts, and scorpions, and serpents, and the sword taking vengeance upon the ungodly unto destruction.
37 In his commandments they shall feast, and they shall be ready upon earth when need is, and when their time is come, they shall not transgress his word.
38 Therefore, from the beginning I was resolved, and I have meditated and thought on these things, and left them in writing.
39 *All the works of the Lord are good, and he will furnish every work in due time.
40 It is not to be said: This is worse than that: for all shall be well approved in their time.
41 Now, therefore, with the whole heart and mouth praise ye him, and bless the name of the Lord.
21: Genesis i. 31.; Mark vii. 37.
22: Genesis viii. 3.
28: Genesis vii. 21.
29: Exodus xiv. 21.
31: Ecclesiasticus xxix. 28.
39: Genesis i. 31.; Mark vii. 37.