Category: Ecclesiastes



Psalm 45:7, “You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

In addition to Psalm 45:7, Ecclesiastes says:

Ecclesiastes 9:8, “Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head.”

If, as in Psalm 45, oil represents a content joy, and we are told never to have this lacking, then it needs to be asked how this content joy can be achieved? Psalm 45 makes the connection between loving justice and hating evil with the blessing of “the oil of joy.” This is an anointing of a “contended joy” if you will. This relation isn’t as explicit in Ecclesiastes, but there can be an alike connection made.

In the Scripture, garments are symbolic of one’s spiritual condition. For instance, sackcloth is representational of mourning or a state of despondency or being destitute, and white garments represent a state of righteousness, that is a condition of being free from sin or cleansed of sin. I believe, then, that Solomon in Ecclesiastes is saying to be righteous always before the Lord, and never let our contented joy be lacking.

Going back to Psalm 45:7, we can render the lesson like this: “If you love justice and hate evil, resulting in a righteousness, then you will be blessed by a ‘contented joy.’” Simply, it follows then that if a contented joy is lacking in our lives, then perhaps we are not clean, or sin is still somewhere manifest in our lives. In other words, our garments are dirty.

For the sake of consistency, we should take the full passage in Ecclesiastes into account. It states:

Ecclesiastes 9:7-9, “Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun.”

The Apologetics Study Bible For Students remarks:

“These verses [Ecclesiastes 9:8-9] resemble passages in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh and the ‘Harper’s Son’ from Egypt. Both were composed long before the time of Solomon, and it seems clear that he knew them. It is not troubling to find that a biblical text reflects knowledge of other well-known literature of antiquity; this international character is a feature of Israelite wisdom. Because of Solomon’s extensive international contacts we would expect him to be familiar with such literature, and the similarities to these other passages reinforce the Solomonic authorship of Ec[clesiastes].” —Duane A. Garrett, “Ecclesiastes 9:8-9,” Apologetics Study Bible For Students.

This indeed can become problematic for Christians whenever this kind of thing occurs, but should it be the case? In the specific example mentioned, it should be noted after reading the Epic of Gilgamesh and a few Harpers’ Songs (from the tombs of Intef, Neferhotep, and Inherkhawy) that Ecclesiastes is far from plagiarizing these other sources. There may be similar motifs, but we need to be careful of comparing the Word with other works from the ancient Near East, for some have a tendency to emphasize the similarities but disregard the differences.

The difficulty some may have in these and like examples arises from a couple of presuppositions which Christians and critics alike make, the most prominent being that sources outside of the Bible are necessarily false, while those in the Bible are necessarily true and sanctioned by God. I know how this may sound, but I implore the reader to let me explain. I will refer to this as a “compound presupposition” because one supposition implies the other. Both parts of this supposition can be problematic.

Concerning the former, sources independent of the Bible are necessarily false, we may run into problems when a contemporary or well-known text, of that time, is cited in regard and relation to the truth of God and we let this become a stumbling block. In terms of the latter, that what is included in the Bible is necessarily true, this becomes problematic when we approach it from the position that anything recorded in the Bible must be concluded to be supported by God when this isn’t always the case. A narrative which is tragic and horrific isn’t always endorsed by God, but rather at times arises because of disobedience to God. The latter part of this “compound presupposition” is a tactic frequently employed by critics of Christianity.

An example would be the account of Jephthah’s Vow found in Judges 11:30-40. It has been forwarded by some critics in their argument against the character of God, but as the Christian or Jew may know, God nowhere gives His approval of such a thing and it is indeed a direct disobedience to God! This is the tragic account of Jephthah’s Vow:

Judges 11:30-40, “And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. He said, ‘If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the LORD whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’ So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave him victory. He crushed the Ammonites, devastating about twenty towns from Aroer to and area near Minnith and as far away as Abel-keramim. In this way Israel defeated the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. ‘Oh, my daughter!’ he cried out. ‘You have completely destroyed me! You’ve brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the LORD, and I cannot take it back.’ And she said, ‘Father, if you have made a vow to the LORD, you must do to me what you have vowed, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me do this one thing: Let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.’ ‘You may go,’ Jephthah said. And he sent her away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children. When she returned home, her father kept the vow he had made, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for a young Israelite woman to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah’s daughter.”

Again, the account is used as an attack on God’s character by critics, which is based on the presupposition that what is recorded in the Bible is endorsed by God. This despite that God clearly forbids such a detestable practice as human sacrifice:

Deuteronomy 12:31, “You must not worship the LORD your God in the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughter as sacrifices to their gods.”

Leviticus 18:21, “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the LORD.”

Leviticus 20:2b-5, “If any of them offer their children as a sacrifice to Molech, they must be put to death. The people of the community must stone them to death. I myself will turn against them and cut them off from the community, because they have defiled my sanctuary and brought shame on my holy name by offering their children to Molech. And if the people of the community ignore those who offer their children to Molech and refuse to execute them, I myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community. This will happen to all who commit spiritual prostitution by worshiping Molech.”

It is easy to see that all that which is recorded in the Bible is not endorsed by the Lord, so the Christian should reject this stumbling block outright.

In addition, God’s Word is taught to have supreme authority, which is accurate because it is of God. Thus, when an independent source is included, some may feel this authority is threatened by a lesser authority, one who strictly isn’t God. Yet, we know from the Scriptures that the LORD’s authority stretches beyond the blessed text we hold in our hands. As the apostle Paul implies in the book of Romans:

Romans 2:14-15, “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.”

If even the thoughts of the Gentiles could testify and reflect God’s law, then couldn’t God’s truths be known to them as well, recorded in their literature, and then repeated by men of God without any contradiction taking place? We recall what Paul says earlier in the book of Romans:

Romans 1:19-20, “Since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.”

Therefore, we should not be concerned about independent wisdom from independent source material being mentioned in the Scriptures. As a casual student of philosophy, it is not uncommon to see truths that align with the Scripture mentioned by some of the great thinkers. As I might cite or borrow from a philosopher when examining or writing on biblical truths, so too could the writers of the Holy text without negating or challenging the truths of our Lord in Holy Bible which represents the greatest of revelations. We should consider it not to be problematic, but a reinforcement.

If we are assembling a dresser we purchased from IKEA, although it may come with its own instructions straight from the manufacturer, and if we look online to search for further support, we are not invalidating those instructions, but rather with the extra-material, reinforcing that original source material that we may accomplish the task more efficiently with that added understanding others have gained.

Thank you for reading and God bless.

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1My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – 3indeed if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4and if you look for it as silver and search for it as hidden treasure, 5then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

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In my last entry I discussed, or rather the Scripture discussed, the consequences that occur when one doesn’t fear the Lord. What is this fear of the Lord and why is it so profound? I yet do not know in the profound measure it deserves, but I have the understanding that despite the clues I have gotten concerning the fear of the Lord, in truth its much deeper than I can fathom at this point. This is why I have yet to do any recent writing on the topic. I pray the Lord will lead me in discovery about this often wondered about phrase? What is it to fear the Lord? I invite the reader to stay tuned. One thing we do know about the fear of the Lord, however, is that it is elsewhere too aligned with a knowledge, which again speaks to its profound nature. Isaiah 11:2 says,

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.”

An interesting thing occurs to me. Both in Isaiah and the aforementioned Proverbs 2:5 mention BOTH the fear of the Lord, understanding, and a, or the, knowledge of God. In addition, how Isaiah talks of it suggests it being a fruit of the Spirit.

Regardless, despite the missing profound variable about the fear of the Lord, I believe there are a number of conclusions and important points we can extrapolate from these verses. First, to dissect the collection of verse a bit, there are eight conditions, or antecedents, and two consequents. The eight conditions are, to accept the Lord’s words, store up His commands, turn your ear to wisdom, apply your heart to understanding, call out for insight, cry aloud for understanding, seek it as silver, and search for it as hidden treasure. The two consequents are, an understanding of the fear of the Lord, and finding the knowledge of God.

I would like to do something a little different for this current entry and analyze the Scripture by these conditions and consequents. First, I will cite the conditions, slightly paraphrased, and immediately after write upon them. After the conditions are finished, I will then do likewise for the consequents mentioned in Proverbs 2:5. I pray this translates well into a blog post.

Accept The Lord’s Words

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I believe there are quite a few of us guilty, including myself, of approaching the Scripture with a presupposed message in hand. Simply, we go through times in our life where we encounter challenges, reap calamity, are distressed, brought low, and seemingly trampled underfoot by any number or matter of things. Of course, being of a somewhat juvenile in faith, as even the most faithful can be at times, outside Christ, we turn to our Bibles to bring us a positive message or, at the very least, one that will make us “feel better” somewhat. In a time such as this, we may be in danger of not accepting what the Lord is really trying to tell us. We find something scary, or something convicting, and we turn the page. Searching for that other verse to give us our needed exhortation. If this isn’t describing you at all my friend then God bless you!

However, I only write from personal experiences and I know the tricks of the self, as well as the enemy, are not original temptations at all. For, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 says:

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

When getting a Word from the Lord sometimes we don’t want to hear it and we fool ourselves in thinking that intuitive scripture that came to us must be mistaken or misheard. Yet, we are called not only to accept those things which make us feel good, like grace, but also those things which frighten us, like judgment. However, this is all for our own good. The Lord doesn’t want calamity to fall upon us and gives us stern warnings in order that we might have it “the easy way” rather than the “hard way.” This is simply due to his unfathomable love, much like how a parent might warn and discipline their children when they have done wrong.

Store Up The Lord’s Commands Within You

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To tap into a little bit of my own testimony, I attended a Christian private school while I was in high school, but didn’t become a Christian until after. At the time, while in school, I found one of the most ridiculous academic activities to be memorization. This ranged from vocabulary quizzes and exams to even, dare I say it, Bible verse memorization. Be assured I feel ashamed for this now, and certainly you can tell how depleted my ability to reason was at this time in my life. I mean, why would I need to memorize the Bible if I had to always have it on me anyway? Surely, the Holy Word would warrant an open book test right? Now its easy to see from my vantage point where the ridiculousness really lied.

Certainly, some of this came from just a sluggard kind of lifestyle and its paramount laziness, but whatever the causes, the effects were the most important. That whole time when I could have been soaking in God’s Word, I disregarded its importance, and thus missed out on an opportunity to be more versed than I am currently in biblical doctrine or writ. In addition, it is obvious to me, that I missed out on a great opportunity to build up a surplus of faith, which would have helped me out more during those times when I crawled through the darkness, often of my own accord.

Not only must we accept all things God reveals in His Divine Revelation, but we must also store up His commands in our hearts. This is not only for conviction purposes as one might suppose by the word “command,” but rather they are also means of following God’s perfect advice, and means of attaining blessing in our lives. This seems paradoxical that a command might act as a blessing. In and by our simple humanity, it remains a fact that we often do not like to be told what to do. Yet, we should not be so hesitant about following what the Lord tells us to do, for in that there is the aforementioned blessing. If the Lord didn’t want us to know that was the case, He wouldn’t have told us. Yet, since He did, we can have complete assurance in what the Lord says is truth. To simplify, we need to store up His commands in our hearts that we may avoid trouble and be blessed by our observance.

Turn Your Ear To Wisdom

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I recall as a small child getting in fights with my sister. On one particularly inspired mature moment, I covered my ears as she spoke and mumbled something like, “La,la,la,la,la…” to drown out her counter-argument. Whatever that might have been. Regardless, there are those times when we don’t want to hear what wisdom has to say. Moreover, we have a choice to listen to wisdom, or ignore it and drown it out. There is action and choice in this, which is made evident in Proverbs 2:2 when it tells us to turn. To turn towards something is to turn away from something else. This is much akin to the message of true repentance.

Apply Your Heart To Understanding

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The message here, to apply one’s hear to understanding, is one of commitment. We should commit to understanding. There are those questions that arise when studying the Holy Writ which are difficult to understand. We human beings tend to get discouraged or write off questions if we do not understand them. Indeed, I too went through a season where questions arising from study were discouraging to me, in the vein that such questions would arise the ever more dangerous question if what I believed was false. I had not yet understood that just because I had not the answer, didn’t mean there was no answer to be found. This is not a commitment to understanding, but rather a fleeting faith which is void of understanding and even the possibility of understanding. We are called to something much greater. A commitment to understanding that though questions arise, the Lord has many ways in which to deal with questions. These range from an understanding to a greater faith despite our questions. We almost live under the presupposition that if truth exists then we must have all the answers pertaining to that truth. Yet, the very idea of faith is that in spite of our questions we yet do still believe. Thus, we must not only commit to understanding, but to faith as well despite a

ll the unanswered questions that may arise within us. Let us have a greater faith in the Lord that He surpasses our questions and our abilities to understand. For as the scripture states, let us not lean upon our own understanding, but transcend it as the Lord transcends all.

Call Out For Insight

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Insight is more than a knowing, it is a discernment which grants us an aptitude for both the answers to questions and the direct application of the lessons found within, which can be understood as a wisdom. However, to call out for insight is to acknowledge a lack of insight and to call upon God in steadfast prayer for holy inclination. We acknowledge our lack of Godly insight, for His insight is as infinite as He is, and us being creations of His are necessarily below His enormity. So we are not to call out to the sciences, but rather God Himself who surpasses all human knowledge and man’s practicality. There are, of course, those insights of worldly or practical matters, but how much greater are those insights of spiritual matters which apply to everything? For God is everything! To call out is to desire in earnest. We don’t mutter or have some intellectual arbitrary want for insight, but we call out in a fervent heartfelt aspiration.

Cry Aloud For Understanding

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This is much similar to the one above, that is to call out for insight. It reiterates the above committing us to the importance of the lesson, that we should in earnest cry out for understanding. Furthermore, are we are not to consider it being ever fully gained, for the understanding of the Lord is as limitless as He is. Let us, therefore, take refuge in our Lord when we come unto a situation that demands further understanding. Moreover, let us be discerning in being able to identify those areas in which we lack in understanding, not lean on our own, and may the Lord grant us the understanding to be able to approach any subject or situation in a Godly knowledge which far surpasses that knowledge of man.

Look For it as Silver

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To look for something as silver is to already understand its intrinsic value and worth. Beneath the earth lie vast amounts of precious metals which when mined produce a vast storage of wealth. Likewise, at times, this understanding remains hidden from us in the same vein as one of silver or gold and we must be steadfast in our approach to find these caverns of wealth and understanding. Let us not rush after the gold of fools but rather those precious gems and metals which line outcroppings of knowledge and wisdom.

Search For it as Hidden Treasure

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There are those who dedicate their lives to the seeking of vast fortunes of wealth which have been lost over the ages. Such people invest their time, their money and even their wellbeing in order to discover hidden treasure buried within soil, sand or under the oceans. These treasure seekers not only find a thrill of discovery in such efforts, but also know that if successful then their endeavors will be greatly rewarded. Our endeavors will be greatly rewarded if we seek understanding like those who seek the treasures of old.

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