Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CCXXXIII – Ecclesiastes 8-10


In this post we will continue listening to what Solomon has to say about various topics, all of which is are presented in a dark manner, much like we have seen in this book already.

Chapter 8 begins with the subject of obedience to the king.  Note that Solomon did not consider himself a despotic king, but all of his writings were for future generations and he knew there would be evil kings, so he spends the first nine verses giving instruction on how to deal with unworthy authority.  He says in these verses to obey the king, no matter what.  And he states the reason why in verse 2:  “because you took an oath before God.”  All of the king’s decrees or government orders were to be carried out, whether it be taxation or conscription for military service.  {This does not apply to today’s generation, and hasn’t for centuries.  In ancient Israel, kingship was considered sacred because not only were kings anointed by priests, but they were considered placed on the throne by God Himself.  Therefore to disobey the king was to disobey God, and this was not to be taken lightly.  I am not promoting civil disobedience, but rather saying that the same standards do not apply.  If they did, The United States of America would not have come into existence, as we declared our independence from King George III of England.}

Verses 8:10-15  -  The Disappointment of Expecting Justice in Life

To Christians, young, old, and everywhere in between, they all seem to be frustrated with observing the happiness of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous here on earth.  Solomon returns to this topic so many times, and he does it because he cannot figure out why it happens.  As stated in earlier posts, we Christians have access to more knowledge of the after-life, therefore we have more information on which we can gain understanding.  In verse 11 he is frustrated with how long a wicked person lives that lifestyle before he is brought to justice, if at all.  Solomon has at some time in his life observed (vs 12, 13) that a wicked person is given honor at his burial, instead of being described as the scoundrel that he was.  In verse 14 he simply states it another way, saying the wicked get what the righteous deserve and the righteous get what the wicked deserve.  He is just using this as an example to stress his point that life is not fair.  Then in verse 15 he expresses again that the best thing a person on earth can do is eat, drink, and be merry because they cannot change the lot in life that God has assigned them.

Chapter 9 – A Common Destiny  -  More Depressing Thoughts

Solomon continues his diatribe concerning the righteous and the wicked.  I think in verse 2 he is approaching dangerous territory when he says that even those who do not sacrifice to God are no different than those who do.  He goes on to say that death will be a relief from pain, the unpleasantness that jealousy brings on us.  Their names will be forgotten and will be regarded as having been insignificant.  In verse 7, here we go again:  Solomon’s advice, but he expands it just a bit.  He says eat, drink, and be merry.  But also always be clothed in white (color traditionally worn on festive occasions.  He adds to enjoy life with your wife.  One of the greatest joys that life offered to a man was to share the days of his life with a wife whom he loves dearly.  I couldn’t agree with Solomon more.  The marriage relationship is one of life’s most rewarding experiences.  A man’s wife, children, and grandchildren are the sources of happiness beyond comparison.  Then in verses 11 and 12 he attempts to qualify this advice by saying that one never knows when death will arrive.  Hard to argue with that, but we must not allow our outlook on life to progress to such a gloomy state.

Verses 13-18  -  Wisdom versus Folly

Solomon cannot abandon his preoccupation with wisdom, as he continues to mention it.  In these verses I believe he is telling a true story.  It’s about a small city being attacked by a huge army.  But by the wisdom of one man, the city was saved.  Sounds like a nice story, but then Solomon ends his little story by saying that the wise man, although he saved the city, was forgotten and met with the same destiny as all of the foolish men.  But in the last two verses he admits that regardless of one’s fate, wisdom is still better than folly.

Chapter 10

This chapter is written more closely in poetic form and deserves a moment of your time to read it.  The way it is written is the form that is used in much of the Book of Proverbs, but with a darker tone.  Solomon seems to be jotting down random thoughts of his current philosophy of life, dark thoughts but not as piercing as those in previous chapters.  But interesting to note is the last verse where it advises one to be careful about thoughts, as thoughts turn into comments, which will be interpreted to the negative and come back to punish.  Can we control our thoughts?  Only to a limited degree, but effort should be made.

We will finish the last two chapters of Ecclesiastes in our next post.

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