Don’t associate with a proud person. Or a rich person. Or an influential person. Instead, associate with your peers.
The Book of Sirach is recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Catholic Churches
he that has fellowship with a proud man. We become like the people we associate with. Do you associate with wise people? Then you will become wise. Do you associate with an arrogant person? Then you will become arrogant.
VERSE 2. Take not up a burden above your strength; And have no fellowship with one that is mightier and richer than yourself. What fellowship shall the earthen pot have with the kettle? This will strike, and that will be dashed in pieces.
Take not up a burden above your strength. Since our capacity is limited, the author assumes that we should only attempt what can be achieved with our limited capacity.
On the one hand, that is wise and realistic. On the other hand, there are two big problems with the author’s assumption:
- Many people underestimate their own capacity. For that reason, we are not achieving what we are capable of.
- When we walk with the Most High, we are given additional capacity. Paul alludes to this in several passages:
Sirach 13:2. Take not up a burden above your strength; And have no fellowship with one that is mightier and richer than yourself. What fellowship shall the earthen pot have with the kettle? This will strike, and that will be dashed in pieces.
1 Corinthians 10:13. No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
The rich man … threatens. When they make a mistake, wealthy people lash out at other people and threaten them.
VERSE 4. If you be profitable, he will make merchandise of you; And if you be in lack, he will forsake you.
he will make you bare. A rich person will consume the resources of other people.
and will not be sorry. After consuming the resources of other people, a rich person will not be sorry about it. They did a terrible thing, but they feel entitled.
VERSE 6. Does he need of you? then he will deceive you, And smile upon you, and give you hope: He will speak you fair, and say, What need you?
VERSE 7. And he will shame you by his meats, Until he have made you bare twice or thrice, And at the last he will laugh you to scorn: Afterward he will see you, and will forsake you, And shake his head at you.
VERSE 8. Beware that you be not deceived, and brought low in your mirth.
a mighty man. That is, “a man of influence.”
VERSE 10. Press not upon him, lest you be thrust back; And stand not far off, lest you be forgotten.
he will test you with much talk. An influential person is always vetting possible associates, probing to assess loyalties and gauging how malleable the personality is.
in a smiling manner. Some people pretend to be friendly, while discovering how to exploit you. They are insincere. They cannot be trusted.
VERSE 12. He that doesn’t keep spoken words to himself is unmerciful; And he will not spare to hurt and to bind.
VERSE 13. Keep them to yourself, and take earnest heed, For you walk in peril of your falling.
This verse is omitted in the best manuscripts. The above is from the NAB translation.
never to accompany men of violence. The way of God is the way of peace. God’s people are called to peace.
VERSE 15. Every living creature loves his like, And every man loves his neighbor.
VERSE 16. All flesh consorts according to kind, And a man will cleave to his like.
VERSE 17. What fellowship shall the wolf have with the lamb? So is the sinner to the godly.
VERSE 18. What peace is there between the hyena and the dog? And what peace between the rich man and the poor?
VERSE 19. Wild asses are the prey of lions in the wilderness; So poor men are pasture for the rich.
VERSE 20. Lowliness is an abomination to a proud man; So a poor man is an abomination to the rich.
VERSE 21. A rich man when he is shaken is held up of his friends; But one of low degree being down is thrust away also by his friends.
VERSE 22. When a rich man is fallen, there are many helpers; He speaks things not to be spoken, and men justify him: A man of low degree falls, and men rebuke him withal; He utters wisdom, and no place is allowed him.
NAB translation. Many are the supporters for a rich man when he speaks; though what he says is odious, it wins approval. When a poor man speaks they make sport of him; he speaks wisely and no attention is paid him.
though what he says is odious. A rich man can be racist and misogynist.
it wins approval. And yet people will applaud for the rich man.
NAB translation. A rich man speaks and all are silent, his wisdom they extol to the clouds. A poor man speaks and they say: “Who is that?” If he slips they cast him down.
VERSE 24. Riches are good that have no sin; And poverty is evil in the mouth of the ungodly.
VERSE 25. The heart of a man changes his countenance, Whether it be for good or for evil.
A cheerful countenance. Are you marked by joy?
Nehemiah 8:10. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared, for today is holy to our Lord. Don’t be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Proverbs 23:20. Don’t be among ones drinking too much wine, or those who gorge themselves on meat:
Sirach 13:26. A cheerful countenance is a token of a heart that is in prosperity; And the finding out of parables is a weariness of thinking.
Isaiah 65:18. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; For I create Jerusalem to be a joyand its people to be a delight; (NAB translation)
Baruch 2:23. And I will take away from you the voice of mirth, and the voice of joy, and the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, and all the land shall be without any footstep of inhabitants. (DRA translation)
Matthew 11:19. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Luke 7:34. The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard; a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
Galatians 5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.