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1My child, when you come to serve the Lord,*
prepare yourself for trials.a
2Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
and do not be impetuous in time of adversity.
3Cling to him, do not leave him,
that you may prosper in your last days.
4Accept whatever happens to you;
in periods of humiliation be patient.
5For in fire gold is tested,
and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.b
6Trust in God, and he will help you;
make your ways straight and hope in him.
7You that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy,
do not stray lest you fall.
8You that fear the Lord, trust in him,
and your reward will not be lost.
9You that fear the LORD, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
10Consider the generations long past and see:
has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon him and been ignored?c
11For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
forgives sins and saves in time of trouble.
12Woe to timid hearts and drooping hands,*
to the sinner who walks a double path!
13Woe to the faint of heart! For they do not trust,
and therefore have no shelter!
14Woe to you that have lost hope!
what will you do at the Lord’s visitation?
15Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words;
those who love him keep his ways.d
16Those who fear the Lord seek to please him;
those who love him are filled with his law.
17Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts
and humble themselves before him.
18Let us fall into the hands of the Lord
and not into the hands of mortals,
For equal to his majesty is his mercy;
and equal to his name are his works.e
* [2:1–11] Serving the Lord is not without its trials (v. 1); but no matter what happens, the genuine believer will remain sincere, steadfast, and faithful (vv. 2–3). Misfortune and humiliation are means of purification to prove one’s worth (vv. 4–5). Ben Sira believed that patience and unwavering trust in God are ultimately rewarded with the benefits of God’s mercy and of lasting joy (vv. 6–11).
* [2:12–18] A stern warning to those who compromise their faith in time of affliction; they fail in courage and trust and therefore have no security (vv. 12–14). But those who fear the Lord through obedience, reverence, love, and humility find his “mercy equal to his majesty” (vv. 15–18).
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