Ecclesiastes 7:11–14, 15–18; 8:10–17 comment (0)
August 8, 2013
By Douglas K. Wilson Jr.
Related Scripture: Ecclesiastes 7:11–14, 15–18; 8:10–17
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Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
CAN I KEEP ON GOING?
Ecclesiastes 7:11–14, 15–18; 8:10–17
What should I do now? This is one of those FAQs (frequently asked questions) that we cry out in frustration. Ask the wrong person, and you may end up in a worse predicament than you started. Make a rash decision, and the hole you are digging may become deeper. Pretend that you have all the answers, and you will soon see that you do not. Can you keep going? Of course, but listen to godly counsel.
Accept Godly Wisdom (7:11–14)
The Hebrew Psalter begins with lyrics extolling the benefit of heeding God’s law and ignoring godless counsel. Throughout the Proverbs, Solomon exhorts his son to listen to the wisdom of father and mother as well as to gather God-fearing advisers around him. In the passage at hand, wisdom is compared to an inheritance and a protector of life.
We may not understand all that God is doing, but we must receive wisdom given from Him. Both joys and adversities accompany the believer, yet God can be trusted through it all. Bible students know the answer to the question: “Who can straighten out what He has made crooked?” God will make the crooked straight (or smooth the uneven ground, Isa. 40:4).
Avoid Foolish Extremes (7:15–18)
One must be careful here. Is Qohelet (the Teacher) advocating moderation to the exclusion of righteous living? Is he suggesting that believers should be neither too bad nor too good? After all, the text tells us not to be overly wise (7:16). He warns against the twin extremes of foolishness and wickedness (7:17). It seems that he also prepares his readers for a difficult lesson in faith: righteous people will suffer and wicked people will enjoy life. Fearing God at all times is the best approach to our situations.
Believers must trust God regardless of circumstances. God does not guarantee that following Jesus will be pain-free, debt-free, divorce-free or cancer-free. Run the race God has for you, and trust Him when the path gets rough, when you lose your footing and when darkness closes in. Don’t foolishly forsake Him, believing He has abandoned you. Keep in mind that your reward is worth waiting for (see Rom. 8:18).
Know God Is in Control (8:10–17)
An execution is a deterrent to a capital offense. A sentence lived in a jail cell does not dissuade criminals. The Teacher expresses frustration with the folly of innumerable warnings with no consequences, threats with no punishment. Why should the wicked forsake his ways if there is nothing discouraging him from similar activity in the future?
In 1993, an American teenager named Michael Peter Fay was arrested in Singapore for vandalism after joining other boys in defacing cars with spray paint. His sentence? He was beaten with four strokes from a rattan rod. Although there were international outcries regarding the cruelty of his consequences, Fay learned his lesson.
Although humanity may be soft on crime, God is not. What is the sentence for the crime of disobeying God? Death. Revisit Genesis 2 and you will discover that ignoring God’s diet ended with a death sentence. It was because sin requires death that Jesus died for sinners.
Okay. So if God is hard on crime why are there so many evil people doing evil deeds all over the world? When we observe this universe that God created, we discover the law of the harvest. We will reap what we plant — more and later — but the same kind. Like in our gardens or grain fields, it takes time for that seed to die and for that little plant to mature and bear fruit.
We have already discovered in Ecclesiastes 3 that God’s timing is perfect. He makes everything beautiful in His time. Another revelation is that God does not tell us everything. God is in control, and we must trust Him.