4 Maccabees 3Common English Bible (CEB)
3 clear thinking doesn’t appear to have control over its own tendencies, but it does control those emotions that come from the body. 2 None of us can eliminate that kind of emotion, but clear thinking makes it possible for us not to be slaves to our emotions. 3 None of you can eliminate anger from your soul, but clear thinking can help you deal with your anger. 4 None of you can completely eliminate meanness, but clear thinking can fight alongside you so that you don’t have to give in to your cruel tendencies. 5 Clear thinking does not uproot the emotions, but it is their opponent.
Example of King David
6 This can be shown more clearly by the story of when King David was thirsty. 7 David had been attacking the enemy[a] all day long, and he had killed many of them with the help of his nation’s soldiers. 8 When it was evening, he returned to his royal tent, dripping with sweat and completely exhausted. The whole army of our ancestors was camped around it, 9 and all the others were eating dinner. 10 However, the king was extremely thirsty. Even though there were plenty of water springs in the camp, he couldn’t quench his thirst with them. 11 Instead, he was obsessed with an unreasonable desire for water from the enemy’s camp. 12 His guards began to complain bitterly about the king’s desire. Then two strong young soldiers, embarrassed because of the king’s craving, put on their armor, grabbed a pitcher, and went behind the enemy lines. 13 They sneaked past the guards at the gate and began searching through the whole camp. 14 They found the spring and courageously brought the king a drink. 15 But even though he was on fire with thirst, David understood the terrible danger that this drink posed to his soul. It had equal value to the blood of the men who risked their lives to fetch it.[b] 16 So he pitted clear thinking against his desire, and he poured out the drink as an offering to God. 17 The sensible mind can overcome the pressures of the emotions and put out the flames of undisciplined desires. 18 It can overcome the most intense pain in the body and reject the emotions’ attempts at gaining control with the dignified character of clear thinking.
Setting: a lesson from history
19 But the present occasion invites us to give an illustration from history that demonstrates the power of self-controlled clear thinking. 20 Our ancestors were enjoying peace and success because of their obedience to the Law. Even Seleucus Nicanor, king of Asia, set apart money to help support the temple worship and recognized the Jewish constitution. 21 At that time, certain people attempted to overthrow the government. They upset the nation’s harmony and caused a lot of trouble.