Wednesday, February 1
I promise, King Solomon is going to offer us wise, uplifting counsel. It’s just not going to be in today’s reading. Today’s themes are the futility of work ( we’ve heard that before), the wisdom of solemn considerations, the overall unfairness of life.
Chapter 5 opens with a warning to not pretend to please God with foolish words or hasty vows. Solomon then warns against hoarding riches. In verse 10 basically Solomon is saying, Mo’ money, Mo’ problems.
He does end the chapter with the positive observation that finding joy in one’s work and activities is a gift from God. If we are occupied with gladness of heart from God, we don’t have time to reflect, sadly I suspect, on the days of our lives.
Chapter 6 restates what Solomon said in chapter 4. In fact, in both he states that it would have been better to never have been born (verse 3 in chapter 4 and verse 3 in chapter 6) than to live a futile life.
I love verse 7:1. We always celebrate the birth of a baby, in part, for all the hope the baby represents. We celebrate not the death at the end of a person’s life, but rather the fulfillment of that hope. Solomon is saying this celebration is better than the one at birth. In addition to celebrating that person, it reminds us of our own mortality and the need to make our time matter. The following verses add to this thought.
When I was at Ball State for a whole semester, I was terribly homesick. I found verse 7: 8, “The end of the matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” I wrote it on a piece of paper and pinned it to the wall. It reminded me to be patient, the semester would end soon and it would certainly be better than the beginning. I would learn something from this awful experience. I don’t remember where I thought the pride part fit in, but it made sense to me at the time! This verse meant a lot to me and got me through that semester.
Most of Chapter 8 seems to suggest that King Solomon believed that if you do good, you will be rewarded. But some of the verses (10 and 14) point to the fact that sometimes the wicked are rewarded and the good are punished. I have several friends who go to tanning beds. I have several friends who do not. Would you believe two of my friends and I, who have never seen the inside of a tanning bed, are the ones who got skin cancer!!!! Talk about not fair! I am not saying tanning is wicked or that I want my tanning friends to get skin cancer, but it is frustrating to do all the “right” things and still suffer. I think King Solomon understands my frustration. : )
I suspect Solomon would agree with the grandfather in The Princess Bride. “Who says life is fair, where is that written?” It certainly isn’t written in this chapter (or any scripture for that matter)! God has never promised His children an easy or “fair” life. Solomon knew that. But he also knew that serving God is the only way to give meaning to life. He will reassure us of this in tomorrow’s reading.
Until then, Maria Knowlton
When asked to give a short bio of herself Maria said, “I have one great husband, two wonderful kiddos, and will be a nurse in 12 months!”. Those who know Maria would also add that she brings joy and life to every project she attacks (be it heading up the school science fair, providing first aid at Family Camp, being a spokesman for Indiana Donor Network, attending nursing school, or teaching at church in northern Indiana). She is a model of faithfulness as she points others to her faithful God.
(Photo credit: https://dailyverses.net/ecclesiastes/5/10/esv)