Ecclesiastes 7- On Wisdom and Folly

Chapter 7 is full of proverbs, most of which are inter-related. The first few verses speak first of the value of a good reputation, followed by declarations that the day of the death of such a person is better than the day of their birth, partly because of the good name that person has made for himself.  In verses 2-6, “the heart of the wise” and “the heart of fools” means simply that those who are predisposed to wisdom take to heart the acts of sharing the important things of life – and of death – with other people, while others would rather be entertained.

Mourning in Old Testament Israel lasted for a week for an ordinary person, and usually for a month for an important leader, and often included professional singers and mourners.

Mourning in Old Testament Israel lasted for a week for an ordinary person, and usually for a month for an important leader, and often included professional singers and mourners.

Verses 7-12 teach the relationship of goodness to wisdom, and of wickedness to folly, and make contrasts between the former and the latter that are manifested in the way people react to life, and how they behave to others.  Then verses 13-14 point out that having prosperity or adversity in one’s life largely depends on the will of God, as His work is done. We should remember this when we have the latter, and be joyful with the former.

That is a great segue into verses 15-18, the last three verses of which are admittedly difficult to understand; and people have long differed greatly on their meaning. Verse 15 points out that, in this life, a righteous person may receive the fate we would rather see come to a wicked person, and vice-versa. Verses 16-17 are not a license to be sinful, as some have said. They simply mean that one should not believe one’s self to be more righteous or wise than they really are, and therefore deserving of God’s favor – any more than they should be brazenly wicked or completely foolish in their beliefs and actions. As verse 18 points out, it is the one who fears God that will come ahead in the end.

The rest of the chapter continues to elaborate on this relationship of wisdom, folly, good, and evil, with a warning in verses 21-22 not to take everything that others say about us to heart (good or bad). The good things said can lead one to foolishly believe in one’s own righteousness. The bad things said will not matter if we fear God.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Proverbs 10:3 – Nourishment

“The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”

Passover_feastAt first reading, this verse may seem to be about physical nourishment as in food.  But it seems clear that  it relates more correctly to the hunger for righteousness, as in the beatitude of Matthew 5:6 (“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”).  The Lord will fulfill that need for the righteous, just as he will not withhold wisdom from those who ask for it (James 1:5).  But as the text states, He will thwart the craving of the wicked.  This may not mean that evil never finds its way, but God will not give those who seek it any aid in doing so.

This translation, however, does not preclude the other interpretation stated above.  We should well remember Jesus’ words of comfort in  Matthew 6:25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 34 – Taste and See That the Lord Is Good

The superscript here refers to David feigning madness in the  presence of Achish, otherwise known by the Philistine title of Abimelech in 1 Samuel 21:10-14 (not to be confused with Ahimelech, the priest of the previous few verses).   Barnes identified the following four paragraphs in the psalm: (1) thanksgiving for deliverance (Psalm 34:1-6); (2) from his experience, he invites others to join in praise (Psalm 34:7-10); (3) special instructions and exhortations for the young to trust in God (Psalms 34:11-14); (4) a general summary of the security, joys, and protection for those who truly rely upon God (Psalms 34:15-22).

Don’t misunderstand verses 17-19:

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Those who have a contrite heart (crushed in spirit) – those who truly repent instead of continuing to do wrong – will be delivered in the end.  God has no regard for the prayers of those who have no intention of changing their ways.   The righteous will indeed suffer, but their salvation and their comfort is promised.

Of this, Coffman wrote:

“Our Lord himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and he is the ever ready comforter and Saviour of those whose hearts have been broken by the soul’s tragic encounter with the wicked world in which we live.

NSRW Rudyard Kipling

NSRW Rudyard Kipling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The words of Kipling come to mind:

‘The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart.
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget; lest we forget!’

— Rudyard Kipling (The Recessional)”

Regarding verse 8’s first half “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!, Coffman rightly stated: “God has made it possible for men to know whether or not his word is true. The person who receives it, obeys it, and trusts its promises will shortly come to know, Whom he has believed, having tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come…”   Peter repeated it in 1 Peter 2:1-3.  When we dedicate our lives to serving the Lord and continue  to grow in prayer and learning from His word, our lives are better because of the goodness of the Lord and the assurance of His promises.

Of verses 9-10 (“those who seek the Lord lack no good thing”), one must not think that the scripture promises that those who fear the Lord will never have any of their earthly needs or desires lacking in satisfaction, for not all things are good for everyone – nor is what may be good for one person necessarily good for another.  Instead, we trust that the Lord will provide what we truly need.  Just come and taste for yourself!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 11 – The Integrity of the Upright

For helpful tips on reading the Book of Proverbs, see this previous post.

This is our day of the week for Proverbs this year, and today it is to Proverbs Chapter 11 that we turn.  And it is on three verses that we will focus. Verses 3, 5, and 6 all seem to say the same thing; and in truth they all convey much the same meaning, but there are some differences.  Let’s examine them all three, and then we’ll try to tie them all together.  First, let’s look at verse three:

“The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.”

integrity

integrity (Photo credit: glsims99)

Integrity is a characteristic of the upright (those who live their lives according to God’s will).  It is that integrity which guides them in their daily lives.  The crookedness of the unfaithful is the converse.  The lack of integrity (here, “crookedness”) is a characteristic of those who are treacherous (the NKJV, the unfaithful).  That lack of integrity will destroy them.  Now verse five:

“The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,
but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.”

None of us are truly “blameless” in the sense of being without sin.  What it means here is living a life that is above reproach – living in such a manner that would encourage others to serve God, rather than being a stumbling block.  Righteousness is being justified by the grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:20-24).  It is not earned, but it is freely given.  We can fall away from that righteousness (Romans 11:22, Galatians 5:4), but it is that righteousness that will keep the “blameless” on the right path. The wicked, on the other hand, fall by their own wickedness (more about that in a moment).  Finally, verse 6:

“The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.”

The grace of the Lord saves those who live according to His word.  But the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.  The NKJV substitutes “unfaithful,” but the “treacherous” defines it better – those who deceive, who pretend to have integrity, but secretly do not live that way.

cross-005Integrity is a commodity that seems to be in short supply at times.  But is integrity in every detail of our lives important?  What would you do for a million dollars?  Is your integrity for sale?  Sadly, the answer for many is yes.  Especially when it comes to “little things.”  A little “white lie” is sometimes necessary, right?  And so what if I really knew the clerk at the big store chain gave me too much money back?  Not my fault their employees can’t count change, is it?  But Jesus gave us the truth about this in Luke 16:10: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

There are few people who want to be thought of by others as lacking in integrity.  So most people at least pretend to have it.  By the same token, even those that have wicked or deceptive intent, do not want to be thought of as such by others.  And so, the wicked, the deceivers, the unfaithful sometimes live out lives for a long time fooling many of the faithful (and the unfaithful as well) into believing they are something they are not.  But they are trapped by their own lust – their own wickedness brings them down.

Psalm 7:14-16 tells us how it comes about, speaking of the wicked who conceive evil and give birth to lies:

“He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
His mischief returns upon his own head…”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 119:1-8; Psalm 1 – The Way of the Righteous

English: Aleph is the first letter of hebrew A...

English: Aleph is the first letter of hebrew Alphabet Deutsch: Aleph ist der Erste Buchstabe des Hebräischen Alphabets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we begin our reading of Psalm 119 with the first 8 verses.  It is the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses), and it is one of a few acrostics in the Bible, employing all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in its structure.  We will have more to say about this incredible structure in this weekends preview of the coming week.  But for now we’ll focus on the Scripture itself.  These eight verses are brought to you by the letter “Aleph.”

As with the other 21 stanzas, these eight verses employ different synonyms for the word “law” (testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, rules).  These verses declare not only that God wants us to be diligent in keeping His commandments (verse 4), but also that by doing so our lives are blessed, and we can worship Him with our hearts in the right place.  It doesn’t mean that we can ever be truly blameless,  but our intentions to live according to His word will give us an “upright heart” (verses 5-7).

Psalm 1 begins in the first verse speaking instead on the path that the righteous do not take.  Two kinds of people are spoken of throughout the Bible – the servants of God and the enemies of the Lord.  It is the heart that chooses which of those paths one will not take that makes him part of the other group.  There is no middle ground.  Those who choose not to take the advice and example of the wicked are happy living under God’s law (verse 2).  Their lives endure the test of time by choosing righteousness (verse 3), but evil will not triumph in the long course of time (verses 4-6).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy

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___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.