Some people wish to know the future, thinking somehow it may bring them hope. But even Solomon, in all his wisdom, found that endeavor futile.
For he weighed the acts of the foolish and wise. He considered the results of their efforts. And when all was heard and concluded, he found that the human struggle for control is lacking at best, and no one can fully know it all.
He began his reign as king with fear of his ignorance as a youth. Then with the gift of wisdom, he explored all of life he could grasp. But in the end he still found the matters of human existence to be boiled down to two necessities...
Keep His commandments.
For God is the only one in control.
Alpha and Omega... beginning and end.
And if we will acknowledge Him... recognize we are subject to His rule and judgment, then we can finally release our tight and exhaustin grasp of control.
Let us live instead in the peace of His mercy.
For what have we to fear if we put God first?
How quickly I commit to a new thing without prayer. The words of promise tumble off the tongue making promises, plans and priorities which may fit my purpose.
And then, when I get stuck in circumstance, I wonder why God is not helping me. I leave prayer as a "fix-it" option for after the fact.
But our God is not the custodian of our lives. His place is not to just go around cleaning up the messy mistakes made rashly. Rather He is to be our guide, our help and our Holy Perspective. For He knows our future, He is already there... the timeless God of all knowledge.
Lord, set up a guard for my mouth:
keep watch at the door of my lips.
The one who guards
his mouth and tongue
keeps himself out of trouble.
Ecclesiastes can often be a difficult book to read because Solomon has turned His mind to human reasoning... comparison of his life and accomplishments to that of others.
And comparison is certainly
the THIEF of JOY!
But our God is
the GIVER of CONTENTMENT.
For no matter what we achieve, no matter what we acquire in this life, if it's done alone in human effort, it will always blow away as futility in the wind of change.
Only when we empty our hands of busy...
when we take our eyes off what's dizzying...
when we bow our heads before the Maker...
can we be FILLED with the JOY of the LORD!
Knowing that all GOOD things
are from Him, as James tells us...
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
James 1:17-18 NLT
This is the satisfaction of the soul...
Recognizing the Giver
and all that He gives.
Realizing that you will always be
a prized possession to God!
Now this is just downright fun!
Glad as I am that Ecclesiastes
is coming to a close,
while reading chapter 12,
I'll admit I shook my head a bit
trying to figure it out.
Until I looked up a commentary
that gave me the context,
I was a bit confused.
So I'll first, present it to you
as a test of sorts.
See if you know
what ol' Solomon is talking about.
Remember now your Creator
in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them”:
2 While the sun and the light,
The moon and the stars,
Are not darkened,
And the clouds do not return after the rain;
3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
And the strong men bow down;
When the grinders cease because they are few,
And those that look through the windows grow dim;
4 When the doors are shut in the streets,
And the sound of grinding is low;
When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
And all the daughters of music are brought low.
5 Also they are afraid of height,
And of terrors in the way;
When the almond tree blossoms,
The grasshopper is a burden,
And desire fails.
For man goes to his eternal home,
And the mourners go about the streets.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-5 NKJV
Now certainly, this first verse
easy enough o be understood.
And then it seemed a bit poetic...
the sun, moon and stars.
A bit about the clouds,
then maybe a drought.
But who were these keepers of the house
and why did they tremble?
And the grinders who ceased
because they were few?
All I could think, was maybe
a prophecy of some sort...
a plague or a curse.
Even the foretelling of captivity.
But nothing seemed inconsistent.
Almond tree blossoms.
Mourners in the streets.
Poetic as it was,
I needed to know of what
this symbolism spoke.
Have you got it...
do you know what all this means?
Because it's not all that foreign to us.
It's not tied to the Biblical times of old...
of farming, famine or even faith.
This is a telling of what it's like
to get old... Ha!
Not that getting old is humorous
but rather, now I enjoy this cipher.
So now the clues
begin to fall into place.
As I re-read it, I see...
the sun, moon and stars...
our vision declines,
as does our memory,
which is light
within our mind.
The clouds not returning after rain,
the resilience of our body declines.
The keeper of the house,
our mind, and our head, which may
literally tremble as we grow weak.
Strong men bow down,
are seen stooping over
as bones weaken.
And the grinders cease...
this I love most,
our teeth, because they are few.
Clearly dental health not what is is today.
Look through the window dim,
possibly cataracts on our eyes.
Doors are shut, grinding is low,
we close our lips and mouth
when we can no longer eat solid food.
Rising up at the sound of a bird,
increasing difficulty to sleep.
Daughters of music brought low,
as our hearing fails,
we tend to lose our enjoyment of music.
We may become afraid of heights,
simply out of fear of tripping, falling,
or out of breath climbing up.
The almond tree blossoms,
would be the white hair of the elderly.
The grasshopper is a burden
and desire fails,
when elder men lose their confidence
and self-esteem with weakness.
What a truly amazing puzzle this became
to decipher, to determine, to discover
it's true meaning.
All of us will encounter some or all
of these ailments, should God
grant us the length of days.
So thank you, Solomon, for challenging us
to remember our Creator in the days of our youth;
to be grateful for our grinders,
to be thankful for our nimbleness,
to be pleased with this poetic lesson for life.
Word of God,
train me, today...
to be thankful for the blessings
God has granted this youthful day,
to be prayerful that God would strengthen
elderly friends, giving them
many youthful days.
I wonder... has this happened to you?
You're having a simple conversation.
Just you and a friend...
when a few comments are made
regarding another person's circumstances.
And before you know it,
you've let your opinion be made known.
Or even make a joke at their expense.
And it happened so fast.
I mean, you hadn't even planned it.
Much less thought about that person
in quite a while.
It was nothing horrific...
not a terrible stab of hatred.
Just a careless word or two
that tumbled out.
But now you can't take it back.
And as you walk away,
you feel this sense of regret.
And even worse...
wonder if anyone else
might have been in earshot
to hear you speak such things.
Now how could I imagine such a tale,
if it's never happened to me?
I guess it's rather obvious,
that I'm the guilty one.
So when I read
WISDOM for PRACTICAL LIFE,
one specific set of verses
struck just the right chord
which I needed to hear.
This one, for certain,
I must put to use in my life... right away!
Also do not take to heart
everything people say,
Lest you hear your servant cursing you.
For many times, also,
your own heart has known
That even you have cursed others.
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 NKJV
Now here, we see Solomon as the one
who has the servant...
and typical of servants,
they don't place their masters on a pedestal.
In fact, they are more likely to know
each of their shortcomings...
and be able to list them
in order of seriousness.
But Solomon is right,
in that we shouldn't desire to know
what others think of us.
That is simply not
where we should receive our value.
For they are not our creator,
nor the giver of our purpose.
Those are attributes only God can claim.
And as such, we should truly care more
to hear what He has to say of us.
But the latter verse rings true to my crime.
For I have cursed others
without aforethought or grave intent.
So I guess, it's almost like
manslaughter of their character.
I did not intend to kill their esteem,
but accidental or not,
I did not regard them well.
And afterward, I did nothing to revive it,
save it, nor redeem it.
But certainly I could have,
even at the expense of my own pride.
Would that I only have stopped
mid-sentence... made a u-turn
and recanted my ill humor.
Or even afterward,
apologized to my friend
for speaking loose words,
unfiltered, uncensored, uncaring.
Even though the third party
was not present,
still I have afflicted them.
And to them I owe an apology.
Silence is a cowardly stance.
Better to humble myself,
admit my wrong,
even telling that God's Spirit
within me would not let me
move on without such.
And if I lose a friend
because of it...
so be it.
For I did not live up to
earn the honor of our friendship.
Word of God,
train me, today...
to not take to heart what others say of me,
but receive my value wholly from You,
to listen more carefully,
speak more thoughtfully,
and filter my words for friendship.
stay close to my mouth
and remind me
before the words
leave my lips
that I cannot take them back
Let me not
simply dribble sarcasm
and witty words.
But rather be cautious
and kind, only lifting others
to the highest esteem.
from my heart...
I write as an overflow... an expression of my true love for God and with a deep desire to encourage others in their day to day lives. For we can only find peace, joy, and satisfaction when we yield to the One who yielded His life for us.