Happy To Welcome You To The Hallelujah Chorus

I will exalt you my God, the King, I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and exalt your name forever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Sincere Apology To Solomon"

Until about 8 or 10 years ago I viewed Solomon's Ecclesiastes as the sad rant of a wise but angry old man whose broad experience made him cynical and pretty hopeless. There is certainly enough content throughout the book that lends itself to such a conclusion, however after nearly a year of rather intense study of the book, I came to see much more than I had ever understood before. Over the next few months I want to share some of what I have come to see from the Preacher that really is an extension of Solomon's 3000+ proverbs, but maybe written for a wider audience.
Our English title, Ecclesiastes, is actually borrowed from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures commissioned by Alexander the Great and completed about 250 b.c. The original Hebrew title is "Koheleth" meaning the Preacher or "one who addresses an assembly".
Solomon possibly died in his late 60's or early 70's after reigning over Israel 40 years in Jerusalem. He was very young when his father, David, named him the successor to the throne, so he was still quite inexperienced and lacking in judgment. For this reason, God gave him the opportunity to ask for anything he thought would help him to be a good and successful ruler. Solomon simply asked for wisdom and he was given that and much, much more.
As Solomon matured and his fame began to spread during the middle part of his reign, many foreign kings and rulers came to seek out the source of his wisdom, including the Queen of Sheba, a country in present day Yemen. She wanted to find out if this guy could live up to his reputation. During her long visit she asked Solomon many hard questions and his wisdom far exceeded the Queen's skepticism.
I have come to the personal belief that Solomon may have written Ecclesiastes as a sort of tract to explain to the Gentiles who his God is and how God is the source of all wisdom among men. Many centuries before, Moses had urged Solomon's ancestors to pay close attention to the words of God so that the Gentile nations they were about to encounter would see how they were blessed by God because of their faithful obedience to him (Deuteronomy 4:6-8). So, Solomon finally realized that there were many nations besides his own who needed to know about his God. Admittedly this subjective conclusion cannot be proven by any source of which I am aware, however it would explain much of the book's style.
As we walk our way through it, I expect to present Solomon's faith in a more mature way than my earlier assumptions. So, this is my sincere apology to Solomon and to the Holy Spirit for not seeing the real content and intent of the Preacher. I urge my readers to stay with me here - this will definitely NOT be boring.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Honey, Wisdom & Hope"

These words of Solomon have held my attention for several days -

"EAT HONEY, MY SON, FOR IT IS GOOD; HONEY FROM THE COMB IS SWEET TO YOUR TASTE. KNOW ALSO THAT WISDOM IS SWEET TO YOUR SOUL; IF YOU FIND IT, THERE IS FUTURE HOPE FOR YOU, AND YOUR HOPE WILL NOT BE CUT OFF." Proverbs 24:13-14 NIV

I eat a little honey almost every day because I like it and because of its health benefits. However, making the connection with wisdom required more time to process than the immediate effect of honey on the tongue.

Wisdom is a blessing of experience. Today, nearing 70 years, I am much wiser than at any other time in my life because of two critical factors: (1) I learned from what Solomon often refers to as "folly", that repeating what doesn't work out very well is just plain old DUMB!; (2) I learned that only God, my real Father, possesses what I need to know to succeed as a man, a husband, a father etc. Wisdom is God's gift to me because I turned my heart, like Solomon did, and pursued the knowledge of God that ultimately becomes wisdom. But, it takes time and patience for it to become a consistently "sweet" experience like eating honey every day. NOW I GET IT!

God imparts wisdom to all of us through his Holy Spirit, mostly by the revelation of his word, but also by helping us correct our thinking and actions. He gives us the gift of his Spirit when we repent and are baptized into the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38) and it is that GIFT within us that guides us into wise living. We slowly acquire an inner "voice" that I call the "SPIRITUAL CONSCIENCE", which gives us the daily guidance, along with our study of God's words, that becomes wisdom.

Paul stated it this way - "Those who are controlled by the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:5-6 NIV

So, now, every morning when I spread my peanut butter and honey on whole wheat toast I think of Solomon's words and how God's wisdom has given me a sure expectation of future good (hope) and that is sweet to my soul! Try it for yourself and start each day with a great big HALLELUJAH! HOPE'S GOOD!