ALL LIVE AND DIE

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KING FOOL

NO HOPE IN THE DARKNESS

Solomon is seeing no hope for anyone, good or bad.  He has seen a common fate that offers only silence in death.  The wise are forgotten and fools are without hope.  He proposes that we be content with our work and our life as he sees no hope in death.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-18

1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.  2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.  3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 

God has control of all things and no man knows his future.  The same events are awaiting good and evil men alike.  Love and hate will touch everyone.  The godly and the ungodly share the same future.  This is insanity that there is one future that falls on all so we have insanity in life and then only death.

4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.  5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.  6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. 

If you are still alive you have hope because a living dog is better off than a dead lion.  Those who are alive know they will die but the dead know nothing are unknown and forgotten.  All the memory of the lives, loves, and hates is perished and they are no longer a part of this life.

7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.  8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.  9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

Eat drink and be merry because God knows your works to be good.  Keep yourself free of sin and do the works that are good.  Enjoy a good life with the wife of your youth.  This is what God has given you for your life work.

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.  11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.  12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

Whatever work you chose, do it with all your heart because there is no wisdom in the grave that is waiting for you.  The race is not won by the fast, the battle is not won by the strong, honor is not to the wise, wealth is not to the clever, nor honor to the skilled.  It is all by chance that these things are given.  As wild game is taken in a trap man falls suddenly into evil times.

13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:   14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:  15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. 

Solomon relates a story about a city besieged by a strong army.  The enemy built a great siege fortification against the city.  But one poor wise man was able to show them how to defeat the enemy.  But even though he saved the city, no one remembered him later.

16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.  17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.  18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

While Solomon observes that wisdom is better than strength he also notes that the wise man is despised and ignored.  Is that not how the world treats geeks today?  And yet the wise man can be heard in his quiet place more than the shouting of the king in a crowd of fools.  While wisdom is more powerful than war weapons, one sinner can destroy a lot of good works.

Our nation has been saved from many wars by clever invention and we have forgotten most of those who did this work for us.  America is a great nation and yet one leader who lacks wisdom can shout madness that will tear it all down in our generation.

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MORE THAN A KING

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CAESAR1

THE DANGER OF REAL POWER

Solomon held power as a king of Israel.  He was feared and honored in his own land, and by other kings and nations.  The son of David and Bathsheba must have been strong, handsome, popular, and powerful.  He knows that power can destroy enemies, but he also knows that a king can sin.  He warns us not to go against a king who is not prone to evil as mortal kings are.

Ecclesiastes 8

1 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.  2 I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.  3 Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.  4 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? 

Who indeed understands the deep things of life?  If you understand the wisdom of God your whole person may glow with courage.  The prophets perhaps reflected the glory of God when they spoke as he commanded them.  Solomon advises us to keep the king’s commandment in regard of your oath to God.  Does that mean that we should honor every king, like Ahab and Jezebel?  I think we know that Solomon has already regretted his own sins as a king.  But he warns us not to go against the king who has power.  His father David had already prophesied about another king who would be above all mortal  kings.  A greater king was before and after all others, and is identified in a revelation that would describe him in power.

 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords. Revelation 19:16

This is a king, the Son of David, who even kings must obey, who shields his subjects from all harm.

5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.  6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.  7 For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?  8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

This is the king who protects the obedient from all earthly powers and threats.  The wise man can discern what is true of seasons and judgment.  There will be a season for God’s judgment so man must expect his sins to be known.  The time of accounting is unknown to man and no one can control the spirit of God.  No mortal is in power after his death, and none is relieved of duty from the war of righteousness.  No evil man will have a deferment from the measurement of his life before this king.

9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.  10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.  11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.  12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:

Solomon has done every work, good and bad alike.  He sees that a king can be a ruler even if he does the evil things that cause his own destruction.  He witnessed the death and burial of men who started in righteous faith, and later passed into obscurity in their sins.  The punishment of evil is a slow process that sneaks up without warning on the king of evil deeds.  This is the confidence of the prophets who speak against an evil king, that in due season evil will be punished even as the righteous shall be delivered.

13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.  14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.  15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

Wicked men may prosper for a season but their end will not be as long as he thinks, a passing shadow without God.  It is vanity that good men perish while evil seems to endure.  Even kings will dare to rebel against a king who will have them in his power.

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.  These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.  Revelation 17: 12-14

We who witness the works of evil kings may be called to speak truth even if it leads to our harm at the hands of evil men.  In the end the righteous will prosper over the kings of evil.  We are assured that serving the King of Kings will overcome.  So Solomon suggests that man should have joy in his celebrations because nothing else will endure of his works in this life.

16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)  17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

Solomon made a mission to find wisdom in all the works of this life.  Some seek that wisdom without rest, working long into the night.  Then he beheld the wonders of creation that only God could do.  No man of wisdom, past or future, can ever fathom the vastness of the knowledge of his universe.  No evil ruler can imagine a way of escape in the delusion of their own power.  Have comfort in speaking truth that is wisdom from God who is the power of peace.

REFLECTION DEFLECTION

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Baal

HOPE DEFERRED BY IDOLATRY

Solomon was not the author of Proverbs, he was only the stenographer of Proverbs, writing what God revealed to him.  He flunked the test because he had not committed the words to heart to guide his life.  This life is only the entrance exam to the real life to come.  In Ecclesiastes he is beginning to lament the mistakes of his past as he compares to what God intended us to do.  Are we weary of his complaining?  Well it is here for us to consider as we plan our own lives.  He may have saved us from a lot of grief.

Ecclesiastes 7

1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.  2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.  3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.  4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

No amount of fine clothing or medals of honor can make a person honorable.  Real honor may be hidden in the heart, but God knows that it is there.  Our death day is greater than our birth day because we present the sum of our life and honor to God at that time, not before we have earned it.  Sorrow is the beginning or repentance and correction will make us stronger.  The house of sorrow is everyone’s destiny because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  Only a fool is deceived to believe that he has done good in all he has in this life.

5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.   6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.  7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.  8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Harsh correction stings, but it can be deliverance from disaster.  The invitation to trouble is often sweet music that leads to sour lemons.  The fool gets a short season for laughter that dies out as fast as poor fuel for the cooking fire.  Although it is frustrating to be hindered from a goal, it may be better than having a free path to disaster.  The end of a venture is either disaster or victory, but the beginning is only uncertainty.  Either way it is over, but patience will take you to a better end than stubborn pride.

9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.  10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.  11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.  12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

Do not be quick to anger because that takes you into the territory of destruction.  Facing disaster will not get better if you can only wish to go back to better times.  If you can have both wisdom and wealth for an inheritance it is good.  Both may buy safety, but wisdom never runs out and always gives life.

13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?  14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.  15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

Whatever the Lord does will not be changed by a mortal man.  Consider prosperous days and hard ones alike because God plans you to have no legacy when you are gone.  All of life has been vanity when the righteous die young and the evil live long and prosper.

16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?  17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?  18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

Do not think you are smarter or more righteous than anyone else, why should you self-destruct in this?  Do not surrender to temptation or ignorance that will shorten your life.  Get a grip on this wisdom and never let go of it, because he that fears God will come through every battle.

19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.  20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.  21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:  22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

Wisdom is a stronger defense than warriors or expertise.  There are no good men on earth, we all sin.  Do not dwell on every spoken word, because at times your friends and employees will at times curse you.  But of course you know that at times you too have cursed others.

23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.  24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?  25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:  26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

Solomon here remembers that he had wisdom to draw from, but never did so.  He would like to explore its depth, but who can?  He decided to explore that and foolish temptations including insanity.  Solomon has indulged many women who used him to serve evil.  Now he sees their whoredom as more evil than death itself.  Anyone who pleases God will escape, but the evil cannot avoid her web.

27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:  28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.  29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Solomon has never been able to find wisdom in a thousand men or any of the women he has known.  He seems to have kept company with the dark side, including his many mates.  He finds that while God made man upright at first, they always went after inventions for destruction.

Solomon was used by his many wives and concubines to build temples to false gods.  His life contradicted the wisdom of Proverbs even after he went in search of it.  Much learning and experimentation led only to madness.  Only a man who can please god can escape from the snares of death.

KNOWN

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KNOWN

BEWARE OF THE FRUIT OF VANITY

Solomon witnessed a lot of evil in his long lifetime.  He created some of that evil by ignoring the Proverbs he had written.  With wealth and power comes temptation and the opportunity for failure and vanity.  He offers a warning here, but he also hints at hope.

Ecclesiastes 6

1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:   2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.  3 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.  4 For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.

These are common evils that happen to men.  A rich man who cannot be satisfied with his wealth can lose his appetite for food and life.  One with a long life and many children may be unable to have good in his soul for the desire for more.  If a man’s family will not give him an honorable burial then the stillborn are better off than he is.  If he brings only vanity he will live and die in darkness, and will not be remembered.

5 Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.  6 Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?  7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.  8 For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?

The child that is stillborn or aborted is better off that this great man of vanity.  Does a man who has lived two thousand years in vanity see a fate better than any other?  He may work those years to feed himself and never enjoy a single meal.  What does a wise man possess that has more real value that that of a fool?  And what is the possession of a poor man who understands how to behave properly in our real world?

9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.  10 That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.  11 Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?  12 For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

It is better to appreciate the little that you actually have than to long for all the things that you want to have.  That is vanity and disappointment that poisons your spirit.  All that has been known already has a name, including all men, who cannot argue with the God who formed him.  And how can a man know for sure what will be good for him to do in his lifetime?  We watch those years disappear as fast as the shadow that moves with the sun.  And who can reveal your future, or what will follow the years of your life?

Solomon will reveal the answer to those last questions later in this book.  His writings may save us from taking such a long journey to disappointment.  I too have witnessed the passage of many years, but I can see that God has made my road easier.  Some things appear to be failure and still lead to joy.  Let God show you what only he can know about your past and future.  He is a good guide.

FRUIT

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CCL

ENJOY THE FRUIT OF YOUR LABOR

We have only a season on this earth, a time and a season for every purpose.  Consider carefully your actions that are all witnessed by God.  Promises must be kept to be honorable in his sight.  The treasure of our heart should be the things that give us lasting joy, not the treasures that rust away.  Our fantasies will not sustain us in the next life, and this one is short.  Solomon has lived through these mistakes and offers wisdom to others who may avoid his mistakes.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-20

1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.  2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.  3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.  4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.  5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

So this is for Christians; to be prepared to listen to what the Lord might be saying.  The subject is not the money you give, but the message of the one who gave it to you.  Words that might hurt or might be false do not belong here.  God may be in heaven, but his hearing is good here, so say little.  As your dreams reflect a lot of your daily life, so your foolishness is also known by the many words you are willing to speak.  If you do voice a promise to God, pay that promise in full because God hates a cheat.  It will be better to not make a promise than to not keep it.

6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?  7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.  8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.  9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.

Don’t let your words corner you into sinning.  Why be caught in a lie before God’s witness knowing he can destroy your life?  Again in your dreams and many words are also a lot of foolishness so let the fear of God guide you.  If you witness evil authorities corrupting justice and oppressing the poor, don’t think the matter is ended.  There is another judge who is above the highest rulers of the earth.  The wealth of the earth is meant for everyone, as even the king depends on the harvest of the farmers.  Do we see rich people dominating the poor today?  God will repay all.

10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.  11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?  12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.  13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.  14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.

Anyone who loves wealth will never obtain enough, and the obsessive love of increasing wealth is vanity.  Wealth makes one fat, and what is the value of materials beyond being eye candy to the owner?  A working man can sleep well, while a rich man’s possessions will not let him sleep.  Here is a great evil; that possessions will become the destruction of their owner.  And all of that wealth may be lost to evil, leaving the son of that man in poverty.  Greed has a dark reward.

15 As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.  16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?  17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.  18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.  19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.  20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

No one, no matter how wealthy will leave this life with his possessions.  We leave here as naked as we came.  So where is the profit of all of his hard work?  Working through late hours and ignoring the physical toll of being overworked is just grief.  It is far better to live fully and enjoy the fruit of his work in this life.  If a man is blessed with prosperity he should enjoy his life and his wealth fully in this lifetime.  One will not remember the suffering or grief of this life when God rewards him with real joy in his heart.

My father left me a considerable inheritance.  My parents worked hard, prospered, and spent little all their lives.  They lived well but dad was not entirely at peace in the end.  I was unemployed and lived with him for his last years.  I was rewarded to share that time with him.  But I witnessed the cost of his savings.  He often had nightmares about the government taking his money in taxes.  He actually did have to force the IRS to admit they had made a big error and give him a refund.  That left him little peace for his night’s rest.  I wish he had spent a little more of that on himself.  At least he was wise enough to share with others and enjoyed the honor they gave him back.

PAIN AND VANITY

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COLD

WITNESS THE SUFFERING

I feel the pain in my knee as below-zero weather approaches.  My crew in the army dropped a howitzer, a cannon, on that knee in 1969.  I recently fell on it and added to the damage.  But that pain pales beside the suffering of people in Syria and other places today.  And Americans are suffering from poverty and reductions in social help today too.  While Jesus tells us to give to the poor and to Caesar, some rebel against all social programs.  To call all poor people lazy is to be judgmental and sinful too.  But we are always ready to give for more arms production and sales.  That completes the circle of civilian suffering in Syria and the world.  Solomon saw no end of this even in his time.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-16

1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.  2 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.  3 Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Is this the news at 11?  Solomon, we have not escaped the oppression, it continues in America and in foreign wars daily.  Religions I cannot imagine kill people of other religions, or branches of the same religion.  Their gods give no mercy or healing to the opposing views.  The dead, even the aborted, are better off than those who have suffered at the hands of those who are righteous only in their own minds.  And worse are those who claim to be Christians without any knowledge or obedience to the word of God.  These kill the hope of redemption for the oppressed everywhere.

4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.  5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.  6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

How can anyone envy the prosperity of those who build on the suffering and death of others?  The reality of this is shocking, to become aware of the vanity of our self-deception.  But a fool pursues power and wealth at his own expense, as one who shoots himself in the foot, or eats his own hand.  It is better to be content with a little than to have the expectation of a harsh judgment of God.

7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.  8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. 

Who has prosperity if only for himself alone?  Why should he work to have a palace of emptiness?  Hard work and prosperity become only a pain and agony to a lonely person.

9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.  11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?  12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

It is better to have a partner in the labor of life, one who can appreciate sharing the work and the rewards.  One may compliment the other’s weakness, and offer encouragement in failure.  If two can keep each other warm, they can also join forces against an enemy.  And if they allow God to help, they are three against the world.

13 Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.  14 For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.  15 I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.  16 There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

A young man who will observe and learn is better off than an old fool who will not hear correction.  The younger may come from the worst place and still follow wisdom to prosper.  The mighty ruler who cannot learn is destined to be defeated.  Solomon considers all the people who will follow the new leader that will displace the old one.  Yet the generations to come will not celebrate this new leader either.  Where is the glory in vanity?

Our nation has fought horrible wars to destroy the evil of Nazi Germany, the product of an old ruler who would not hear true wisdom.  Now we have watched generations of great leaders come and go with various degrees of popularity and honor.  And still we are able to look to a generation that will follow leaders who are horribly evil and greedy.  Certainly we who live today can witness vanity and vexation of spirit.  If we focus our eyes on the troubles in this world it does indeed look bad.  But faith is the substance of hope, so there is a reality beyond our sight.  Retain the expectation that God is operating by faith, and not by sight.  Keep the faith.  Solomon will see a way.

SEASONS

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SEASON

TIME TURNS…

Pain and suffering wears us down, as we experience or witness it.  Too often greed steals life from the honest, and violence kills the righteous.  This world lets evil run un-checked and justice is perverted.  People act like animals until the time of justice may catch up with their sins.  Every experience has its season, including judgment. 

Ecclesiastes 3:3-22

3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Solomon sought wisdom and he experienced the passage of a lot of time.  He states that there is time dedicated to all purposes.  He has observed a design of God.

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;  3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Birth and death, plating and harvest.  Killing and healing, destruction and construction.  Weeping, laughter, mourning and dancing.  How are all of these a part of a designated plan of God?  We are not a part of life without birth and death.  All of these are experiences that life gives us for instruction.  My own 70 years have seen a few of these.  I hope everyone will not need to kill, but a war placed me in that business…for a season.  I had to pray for my wife’s healing from cancer, and I have lived many of the other experiences too.

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;  7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

A time.  Not an eternity.  War and Peace the book might read like an eternity but these are limited like all of life’s experiences.  Times of crisis seem to drag on while victory is too short a season.  Who has not lost a favorite garment or made the effort to repair own by sewing?  Spoken out of turn or kept a thing secret?  At my age the season of family is just a picture frame with frozen glimpses of the past.  Time has waxed sweet and sour as it fled from me.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?  10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.  11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.  12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.  13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

Years ago I became a designer, a draftsman in the auto industry.  My work is rusting in  junkyards now.  I had to sell my home and follow work around the country until I was finally branded “unemployable”.  I had to live with my father in his last years, but that was actually a blessing.  God gave me a career and a family so I would understand having my car repossessed, and working through those years.

God made even lean times beautiful as I learned to enjoy free gifts like the beauty of nature.  He put the troubles of the world in front of me so I was distracted from learning the full glory of his creation.  There is no good in those troubles except for us to be grateful to be alive and to appreciate the harvest of work.  We can thank god for giving us this which is his gift.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.   15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.  16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.  17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

God produces permanent works that no man can change or remove.  God makes the unmovable to inspire man to fear him.  History has come back today, and the future has already happened.  Now God is requiring accountability for the deeds of the past.  The writer sees the judgment place where evil stands before righteousness.  The writer has a confirmation of the promise that God will judge everyone.  This too has an appointed time.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.  19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 

The writer prayed for God to show all men how they are no more than animals.  As the animals of the earth all die, so do men.  Man and beast all breathe the same air, and share the same death, man has no special advantage over the other animals of the earth.  Again Solomon declares that everything is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.   21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?  22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

All life goes to the same place, from dust to dust, Solomon says.  So who knows if a man’s spirit goes up, or if an animal goes down?  So he says that we should just rejoice in our good works because that is all we will ever know.  Who can see what the future will bring after you are gone?

Don’t we love to read stories about people helping injured or abused animals?  And most of us may hope that our animals do go to heaven, even if we know some people we do not want to see there.  Solomon’s father David had some premonition about the messiah but the Old Testament did not deeply look at heaven yet.  Solomon was old and weary of the world of men, not buoyed up by the promise of salvation in Yeshua.  If we view our world today we do see people help animals and people, but often because someone else had caused those injuries.

We need to remember that there is a season coming for judgment, and all that is vanity will be discovered.  Those who think that they rule in this world will not rule in God’s place of judgment.  Those who stain the name of Jesus by falsehood will be lined up before God.  Those who depend on the forgiveness of Jesus will be redeemed.  This life is an entrance exam.  If we experience and witness a time and a season for every purpose, we know what sin and righteousness produce.  If we experience God’s forgiveness we know that his promise is absolute reality.  Righteousness shall prevail, and perhaps even the animals will comfort us again.  Who can know?

I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

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