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.

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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.

YEARS, TEARS, AND CAREERS

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VANITY

JUST TO PUMP MY EGO?

I can relate to the complaint that Solomon relates here.  A lifetime of work seems to go to others who never earned the value of it all.  After 70 years I know that I am no wiser than Solomon or anyone else.  My best efforts are old and rusty now.  What’s the point?

Ecclesiastes 2:1-26

1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.  2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?  3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.  4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:  5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:  6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:

I am living this myself today.  I don’t have to look at the headlines because my own life has gone on for 70 years now.  Did I have fun in the 1960s and 70s!  Well I didn’t discover alcohol and drugs until I was in the Army.  In war and peace I was getting knowledge of the spiritual and the carnal, but none of it from the good side.  How do we discover what is good for man until we try everything?  Yes, I learned a little about construction and ownership of houses.  I planted a garden too big to control the weeds.  I didn’t grow trees, but asparagus nearly took over a half-acre of lawn!

7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:  8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.  9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.   10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.

I could never match Solomon, but we did have a big house in Michigan.  We were not into livestock but we had cats and dogs and slightly out of control kids galore.  Solomon could gather musicians and singers while we do have electronic serenades in our time.  Solomon was great in fame and fortune, but many of us have fared well in life too.  Solomon retained wisdom, but like us indulged pleasure perhaps a bit more than wisdom might have suggested.  For men love their work, their careers, and prosperity does reward our efforts.

11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.  12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.  13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.  14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.  15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

All that work was vanity.  For me too.  I spent 30 years learning technical skills in support of industry.  At times I was the “fair-haired boy” until I became the grey-haired boy.  I got to work on new car designs before the public had a clue what we were building.  I contributed to fighter jets and rockets and travelled from coast to coast.  Now those cars are rusting away in junk yards, and none of those jobs ever lasted more than a couple of years.  Like Solomon I followed a few mad schemes even in my spare time.  There is nothing that needs to be done that has not been done before.  So Solomon observed how wisdom was a better choice than foolishness.  But even when we see this light there are events that happen to both the wise and the foolish.  So what makes me great for all my learning?  Solomon branded our futility as vanity.

16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.  17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.  18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.  19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.  20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.

I remember a co-worker who was struggling with the software skills, trying to keep his job while lacking some basic ability.  Ten years later my job ended and he has had a brilliant career.  Solomon saw wise men suffering the same death as the fool and despaired of any meaning for life.  He hated working without knowing the value of his efforts.  I was branded “unemployable” yet struggle to start my own company now.  Will there be a legacy for our children, or only souvenirs of futility?  It is all only good for our pride, our vanity.

21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.  22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?  23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.  24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.  25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?

for some of us our life works are guided by knowledge and skill and well compensated.  Still our wealth and wisdom will be left to someone who never worked for it.  This is vanity converted to evil, as we never see the rewards of it.  So what is left of a lifetime of hard work?  For Solomon and for this old man there appears to be only grief and sorrow.  Our days remember only our lost loved ones, pictures of homes past, and times gone by.  Even our dreams drift through haunted scenes that are not all restful.  As long as it is all vain, eat drink and be satisfied with your work.  This is what God has given to us and who can have more that what he has allowed?  And who can live without him?

26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

God gives good wisdom and knowledge but a sinner rejects these and receives only grief and misery and his wealth is given to the godly.  This is the vanity and the disappointment of the rebellious.

Our world is home to many who have plans of greatness but in their evil they have formed the path to their own destruction.  Do not grieve over the works of evil men because their world is coming to an end.

NO NEW THING

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BAB1

THERE IS NOTHING NEW…

Solomon got wisdom, then ignored it, leading Israel to the eventual captivity in Babylon.  As he grew old he saw the failure of his pursuit of worldly pleasures and carnal knowledge.  But it appeared to be a hopeless disaster, beyond repair.  Have we done any better in our time?  A better way is available

Ecclesiastes 1:1-18

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.  2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.  3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?  4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. 

Solomon, the son of king David, cannot see anything but vanity in his world.  He has matured and yet has not followed the wisdom of his own Proverbs.  His observation of his own life of building has discovered nothing of lasting value.  While he has seen beauty, power, wealth and popularity it has all been unsatisfying.  Only the earth continues while many generations of men have gone with no lasting purpose.

5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.  6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.   7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

The days and seasons witness the motion of weather, waters and seas as endless cycles of nature.  It all just goes on as man passes through it all.

8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.  10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 

Yes, there is a lot of hard work just to live, and yet we never seem to have enough.  Sure there are different ways to build, and ways to use energy, but the materials and mechanisms have always existed.  Some even theorize that civilizations lived before us, assisting the with the works of Egypt and the ancients.  No one remembers exactly what happened in the times before history.  But what is new technology that only serves to deliver new ways to kill?

11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

Solomon claims that there will be no record of any of our lives, nor of the works of those who are yet to come.  He is in a time of despair, and out of contact with God after a lifetime of building the temples of the gods of his many wives.  He has been seeking the wisdom of the world, even after he recorded the wisdom of God which he has been ignoring.

12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.  13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.  14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.  15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

Solomon was the king of Israel, and was to experience all knowledge, spiritual and carnal.  That has only been to discover grief and suffering.  As a witness of all the works of man, Solomon has found nothing but vanity.  Evil cannot be repaired, and suffering is without measure.  Men after Solomon, from king Ahab to Hugh Heffner have lived to chase every manner of sin. They have left no good legacy in their futile works.

16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.  17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.  18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Solomon has had it all, and he has seen it all without limitations.  He went past wisdom to seek and learn foolishness and insanity.  All he has found in his search has been only grief.  Wisdom an knowledge will never lead to anything beyond misery and regret.

In our age we do not need great wealth or power to witness the fruit of human works.  Even the poor can sample sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  Civilization has allowed behavior that ignores any kind of restraint or “taboos”.  We watch entertainment that lets us explore all degradation and smut.  From Solomon  to Sheldon Cooper, we feel that everyone should be allowed to indulge in fornication.  The fruit of our liberty is manifest in the fatherless, the aborted, and the sexually diseased.  Divorce and rape are rampant, while men and women are both exposed for immorality with children.

Some will try to impose laws, secular or religious, to prevent sin.  God’s own law and the Proverbs only served to prove us unable to obey.  Judgment is beyond the ability of our elected or appointed judges and officials.  Those who write our laws write them for the wealthy people who buy our government.  Our hope will not be in our nations, but rather in the Kingdom of God.  Solomon and the leaders of our world today have mostly missed that one hope.

” That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.”

BRIDE HOPE

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VIRTUE

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS…YOU DOWN

Having everything is a short path to losing everything.  Beauty, strength, wealth, and freedom open a door that brings temptation.  Solomon began the writing of these Proverbs, then he ignored them.  These kings who write the end of Proverbs deliver a last chance for hope.  From the wisdom of a mother comes instructions for the king and his bride.  Solomon almost missed this hope, will you? 

Proverbs 31: 1-31

1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.  2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

Solomon’s proverbs prepared us to honor parents, and this king honors his mother’s wisdom here.  Her vows to his father included being a good teacher and mother.  He keeps her vows.

3 GivE not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.  4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:  5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

So she warns him not to be trapped by relationships with ungodly women.  Solomon went astray with hundreds of wives, and Ahab did so with just one Jezebel.  Do our modern leaders still have troubles with wives, former wives, and lovers?  Even Hollywood is beginning to speak out against the “casting couch”!

About fermented beverages kings are warned away, as are all of us.  It seems to pervert judgment for everyone.  This is why I marvel at the news this very day.  An actress disagrees with anti-abortion people while she is advertising a whiskey product.  That is what we expect from progressives, right?  But Christians are threatening to boycott the whiskey that she is advertising.  What?  I thought Christians were like, reading this bible, and avoiding strong drink?  So that boycott sounds a little toothless if those are  real Christians doesn’t it?

6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.  7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

I am not ready to perish because I have faith in the promise of salvation.  I do not have a heavy heart because I know that others are finding this hope too.  I have friends and family waiting for me so I have peace, even in poverty.  So God gives us free will, and we may allow those without hope to slip into a drunken stupor.  Our doctors can give drugs to the dying, but some of us will live again.  Give that which dulls the senses to those who know only pain, and deliver yourself away from their pain.

8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.  9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

A ruler is to be the spokesperson for those who are poor and have no voice in their fate.  this nation used to stand as a refuge for the poor and oppressed.  Now we are like a locked door, and a prison for those who we will not hear.  In Jesus Christ the religious leaders were confronted by God in the flesh.  They did not recognize him, and he did not know them.  Religion, its leaders, denominations, and doctrines cannot save us.  We must study to show ourselves approved to God himself.  Will he know us if we do not know the poor?

Now the warnings this king has learned are presented in an unexpected way.  Consider a good woman:

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

A good woman is a great treasure more than trinkets of wealth.  Her husband knows that he can trust her even more than his own abilities.  He knows that he has a true friend who will always have his back as long as she lives.

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.  14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.  15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.  16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

This woman gathers materials to work for the needs of her household.  She finds sources for foods not easily found in their home.  She is a morning person who prepares the meals for everyone who shares her home.  This woman finds new ways to increase the fruit of the family’s wealth, more land for the crops they need.

17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.  18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.  19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.  20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

This is no “palace princess”, but one who works with energy, increasing prosperity and longevity.  She works by the midnight oil, and is confident of the value of her work.  She does the work that produces clothing for her family.  And she still has the time and compassion to help the poor.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.  22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.  23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.  24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.  25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

Her family will not suffer when the winter snows come because she has them in the finest  warm clothing.  She has provided ornamentation for their home, and their clothing is the finest materials.  Her work brings honor to her husband, so he has credit among the leaders of the community.  Beyond the care of her own household, she sells her workmanship to the market as well.  Physical strength and moral honor cover her life more than garments alone.  There will be a time of celebration in her future.

26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.  27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.  29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.  30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.  31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

This woman speaks only with wisdom, even as we find in these proverbs.  Her words are built on kindness, mercy, and grace.  She is not lazy, but works very hard for her family.  Her children and her husband tell praises of her.  Oh there have been many good women, but none have been excellent like you.  Being charming and using flattery is a ruse intended to steal from the gullible, but the fear of God is a true path.  To one who is true to God her works will be for her honor in the gates of heaven.

Now you men may be thinking that you deserve a wife like this.  Perhaps you do, but this also has another meaning here.  The church is described as being the “bride of Christ” in the New Testament.  This virtuous woman is what Yeshua expects to find when he returns for his bride.  Do you have this kind of oil in your lamp?

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain”

We can see churches around us who support political leaders who are clearly contrary to everything these books of Proverbs represent.  We can see groups labeled as being “Christian” even as they serve poison and pedophilic leaders.  Having wealth, popularity, and power is deceitful, hiding total evil.  Beauty cannot see past its own mirror, and is all vanity.  In our coming studies we will hear Solomon discover that “all is vanity”.  But he discovered a way back to the repentance that saved his father.  How many of our modern world will find their way back to their Father in heaven, and his Son?

 

STRIFE

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DT17

THE CHOICE EVILS

These are the words of Agur the son of Jakeh, adding proverbs to those of Solomon.  Like Solmon, God has given him words of wisdom that can help our understanding.  These words protect us from the evil, and teach us to fly over the troubles of life.  As Jesus is named as being the word, The word is our relationship with him.  To depart from the word is to depart from our salvation.  Too many have never found a relationship with him, and they need us.  Without Him we are of no value to them or ourselves. 

Proverbs 30: 15-33

15 The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:  16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.  17 The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

A horseleach is an ugly worm that goes after the lips of a horse that drinks from his pond.  We don’t think of a leach as being charitable, but rather the opposite; greedy.  And she has daughters who have also learned greed.  They are destroyers but there are four other insatiably hungry monsters who are never satisfied.  The grave always wants more than we want to give.  The earth may swallow endless hurricanes and still offer a drought somewhere.  And interestingly those dry places feed the insatiable fires in California.  But a child that mocks and disobeys his parents consumes them and himself.  I have seen flies in a trap being eaten by their own maggots.  Such are these children, who will share their parent’s putrescence.  Don’t these all remind us of modern politicians?

18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:  19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

The writer has seen some things that are not within his experience or understanding it seems.  I have seen eagles, hawks, and buzzards which can feel the waves of the air as no sailplane can.  There is no man with knowledge to so mold himself to the shape of the wind as these.

On Arizona trails I have met the rattlesnake crossing my path.  But for the motion of his movement I would not have been able to see him for his perfect camouflage.  If we had our limbs amputated as serpents have, we would be challenged to achieve mobility at all.  And this creature has developed the ability to move like waves on the water.

I have been at the helm of a boat out of sight of land.  The compass rolls and spins as the boat rides hills and valleys of the waves.  Somehow the vessel maintains a course to the lighthouse by night or day.  Sailboats may heel over hard in the wind, and somehow right themselves before capsizing.  This is knowledge only for the sailor.

The writer may not have found his way with a maid as the man he observes has done.  Hollywood attempts to show us how love works, but our experience is seldom from a fairy tale scenario.  Indeed we may wonder how a lad ever won that girl, often out of his league.  Or did she win him?  I did not find my wife until I abandoned the big church “singles club” in favor of a more missionary assignment.  How could I know that God had one single mom in that tiny church to win me?  Perhaps the writer is not marveling at the way of the man so much as the way God has enabled their discovery.

Our efforts to become wonderful cannot compare for the way that God has prepared for us.  Our carnal nature cannot compare to his supernatural equipping and preparation.  He alone gives knowledge to flow smoothly over air, land, sea, and relationships.  Don’t even try to fly on your own!

20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.

Cheating on her husband has left this woman with no guilt.  If her conscience is seared, she may destroy her husband and her marriage and think it can be wiped away like the blood on her lips.  Delusion is the trap of all fools.  When judgment comes she and her boyfriend will be the ones who are damaged beyond repair.

21 For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:

22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;

23 For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.

We are robbed of peace when this balance is upset.  The four main offenses are:

When an inexperienced amateur is given the power of government.

When a fool gains wealth

When an obnoxious woman is married, and

When a servant girl inherits the power and wealth of her mistress.

Surely we can read our headlines and observe examples of this in our modern world.  Inherited wealth brings power that can place a fool in leadership.  Homes are frequently torn by foolishness and vanity.  And again the inheritance of wealth transforms humility into horror.  All manners of foolishness are manifest in the world around us today.

24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;

26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;

28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.

Well at least SOME things are wise on this earth, if not the people.

The termites are small but they build big strong homes.

Locusts manage military grade campaigns with no chain of command.

Spiders just hang around…in the most splendid mansions.

Size (power and wealth) DOESN’T matter!

29 There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going:

30 A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;

31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.

These first three things are good, but the four of these are a wonderful sight.

The fearless lion, the fast greyhound, a goat, and a king with absolute power are named.  Aside from possibly Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un, and some third world countries, we have no absolute rulers in most countries today.  What makes men like this so marvelous?  Perhaps from the viewpoint of God it is marvelous how they may be so far from righteousness.  It is said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  When an all-powerful leader has a seared conscience then evil has no limit.  Even God may marvel at the tantrums of North Korea’s leader.  Is he also amazed at the behavior of the leader of the United States?

32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

As soon as we believe that we are good we are in trouble.  When we presume that we are sinless we may be further tempted to consider an evil response.  The first danger to arrive on the scene is the inspiration for wrong words.  We need to remember self control in the moment of crisis.

33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

Well people around here know more about dairy than I do, but we have heard that butter comes from churning.  I know for sure about nose bleeds, as mine doesn’t even need a twist or a punch.  I am just as sure that an angry person can provoke a really big fight with a few words.  Witness how many enemies are discovered when leaders with great power cannot stop their angry words.

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