A different angle, part one

Just when you think you understand how the Bible works it tends to zag on you a little bit. That was the case for me when I got to the book of Ecclesiastes. One of my favorite books of the Bible is Proverbs. Oddly enough, it was the only book of the Bible I ever read when I was younger. It’s beautifully written and full of practical advice and wisdom. Ecclesiastes is similar to Proverbs in a lot of ways but it’s also very… different. It’s like the slightly depressed brother of Proverbs. There’s some debate over authorship, but most scholars seem to believe that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, which is interesting when you consider that he also wrote Proverbs. As one of the wisest men in the Bible, Solomon had a lot of great stuff to share, but as Ecclesiastes was written near the end of his life you can see that he’s coming at a lot of truths from a very different angle than he did earlier in his life. Solomon had some issues, like having 700 wives and 300 concubines, and he eventually strayed into idol worship. This had consequences, and you can read all about that in the book of Kings, but I think it’s really amazing that we get the book of Ecclesiastes, because it shows us how these mistakes that he made impacted him.

Over the course of this week I just want to take a look at some of the verses in Ecclesiastes that jumped out at me. I originally read the book in my Amplified Bible, so I may swap translations from my usual ESV to the AMP a few times over the course of the week, but I’ll make it clear when I do.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

Here’s a great example of some of the straightforward stuff you get out of this book. This is another version of that age old wisdom, God is God, we are not. Solomon takes it one step further though, and basically says, God is God, you are not, so shut up already. I’ve always wondered about stuff like this. Several years ago I remember someone telling me to pray that a baseball player would hit a home run so their favorite team would win the game. Something about that felt, not wrong, but off to me. I know God’s infinite and all powerful, but at the same time I’m praying about a baseball game someone somewhere is also praying that their mom will be cured of cancer, you know? I kind of feel like that might be the angle Solomon is coming at this from with this verse. That maybe, just maybe, we should take a second before petitioning the God of all creation with something and just make sure it’s something that needs to be said.

This next verse is one of my favorites in all of Ecclesiastes and it has an incredible amount of weight when you consider that Solomon is the one who wrote it.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.

Man I love this scripture. The cool thing about this is that it really applies to anything that’s not of God. Whatever it is that you covet will never fulfill you. I’ve gone through life collecting things and it always gets to a point where the things aren’t even really enjoyable, it’s just that constant quest of acquiring more that matters. But the more is never enough. I’ve gone through periods like that with books, where I would obsessively shop for books. I’d come home with four or five, add them to the shelf of about 100 unread books, and then immediately start thinking about the books I’d seen but didn’t buy. I’ve done it with videogames and movies, too. Money, of course, is the main thing people go through life wanting more and more of. We all need money, and it’s not inherently evil, but this verse reminds us that if we’re just obsessing over accumulating wealth just so we can have wealth, it’s not ultimately going to bring us satisfaction. It’s great wisdom, especially considering that Solomon was one of the wealthiest people who ever lived. If the love of money brought any sort of satisfaction, if stacks upon stacks of gold brought contentment, Solomon would’ve been the guy who knew. But here he is telling us the exact opposite, that a love of wealth will bring no satisfaction.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, today I thank you for the variety in your word.  This isn’t just one type of a book, there’s so much variation in it.  Thank you that just when we think we have it figured out, it opens up in a new way to us.  I ask right now that you deepen our thirst for the Bible, God, that you’ll strengthen our connection to you through your word.  In Jesus name I pray, amen.

I hope everyone’s Monday is going good so far.  Mine has been delightful.  The weather has finally shifted to fall here in North Texas, and I’ve been spending time outdoors thanking God for it today!  I love you guys!

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