Tag Archives: Ecclesiastes

Through the Bible, April 21

Reading: No Scheduled Reading

Thoughts and Reflections: This is the catch up for the third week of April (15-21).  No readings are planned, but below are some points to ponder based on this week’s readings.

  1. The Bible makes no bones about the extent of Solomon’s wisdom: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30). That is remarkable itself, but so is the fact that people were drawn to this man for his wisdom.  He was world-renown.  “And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).

People were drawn to, desired, and appreciated wisdom.  Who today is renown for their wisdom?  The fact is, we’re just not that interested in it.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Prov. 16:16)

  1. The book of Proverbs is actually a collection of collections of Proverbs. Notice these verses:

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel” (Prov. 1:1)

“The proverbs of Solomon” (Prov. 10:1).

“These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.” (Prov. 25:1).

“The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.” (Prov. 30:1)

“The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:” (Prov. 31:1).

  1. We sometimes think we know what God is up to; we’ve got figured out His actions and His deeds. Probably not.  “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Ecc. 11:5).

Devotional Thought:

I’m Not Alone

A woman still in the throes of grief in the weeks following her husband’s untimely death, commented on the value of a book on grieving she has been reading, “It let me know that I’m not going crazy.”

It is so good to know that we’re not alone, that we’re not isolated in our hurts and pains and sorrows, that the emotional turmoil and even confusion we feel is a shared experience.

This isn’t exclusive to grieving, but for any trouble we may face.  And that’s where one of the great values of the Psalms lies. So many of the Psalms allow the believer to know that their questions, uncertainty, anger, weariness, angst, or whatever, have been felt before and have been felt by others.  It is not a sign of failed faith or spiritual bankruptcy.

The misguided notion that in order for us to come to God and be received by Him we can only approach Him with all our “ducks in a row,” a high level of confidence and assurance, and an already sanitized and well ordered life is wrong.  It’s not emotionally or spiritually healthy.  The Psalms introduce to us people unsure and hurt and angry and searching.

The inscription of Psalm 102 says this well, “A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.”

It matters not what I’m feeling or what I’m experiencing, it’s not new to God.  He’s heard it before and He’s seen it before.  It will help me to work through whatever it is, if He now hears it from me.

Through the Bible, April 18

Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:11; 12

Summary: Old Testament books are arranged by types, not by chronology.  One of those types is sometimes called “Poetry”.  It includes the books from Job through Song of Solomon.  Maybe that title is appropriate since the largest book in this category, Psalms, is all poetic.  Others, though, are not at all.  Some people prefer to call this classification of books “Wisdom Literature”.  This descriptor is much more apt for Ecclesiastes.

In this book Solomon describes his effort to find meaning and purpose in life, through the pursuit of various goals; high achievement, wealth, pleasure, and so on.  Along the way he does gain some helpful insights, but the bottom line is, “Vanity of vanity, all is vanity.  What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecc. 1:2-3).  Finally, though, he provides his summation of it all in chapter 12.

Today, we will read a sampling of texts from this book.

Devotional Thought:

How Many Strands is Your Cord?

American culture is odd. I don’t mean to be critical, but what we as a people often admire and elevate is exactly wrong.

That’s true in many different ways, but think about this: how many of your heroes and legends are loners?  Go all the way back to characters like the Lone Ranger or the Clint Eastwood character in those “spaghetti” westerns or the tortured lonely superhero (think Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, etc., etc.).

We have elevated the notion of go-it-alone, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, leave-me-to-my-own-devices, to a fault.  And it really is a fault.  There is nothing wrong with being independent and self sufficient; but, that can go way too far.  We might end up handicapping ourselves unnecessarily from some of life’s greatest blessings: other people.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:9-12).

Have you left yourself with a cord of one strand?

Through the Bible, April Week 3 Bible Reading Introduction

Week 3: Solomon and His Wisdom

April 15-21

            Solomon is remembered for several important achievements, gifts, and accomplishments. The successor to David’s throne impressed God with his foremost desire for wisdom to adequately rule His people.  Consequently God provided not only unparalleled wisdom, but also incomparable wealth.  Solomon’s reputation spread throughout the world.

In addition to these Solomon leaves a lasting legacy as the builder of God’s temple.  His father had been denied the right to construct God’s house in Jerusalem but had gone to great lengths to make extensive preparations for his son to do so.

Sadly, all of these blessings and advantages did not result in the king’s continued faithfulness.  His life is a sad testimony to the fact that beginning well does not guarantee finishing well.

One expression of Solomon’s great wisdom was as an author.  The Bible’s books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are typically credited to him.  We’ll spend three days reading samples of his wisdom from these great books.  Another book attributed to him, but from which we will not read, is the Song of Solomon, a beautiful celebration of the intimate love of the marriage relationship.

Through the Bible April Reading Introduction

Kings and Prophets; Psalms and Wisdom

The Monarchy Flourishes, then Divides

Books: 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes

Israel’s monarchy is off to a faltering start, to say the least.  The first king, Saul, proved to be a troubled soul and a bitter disappointment.  Though the kingdom became a reality with his reign, it is his death, along with his sons, at the hand of the country’s chief nemesis, the Philistines, that leaves the entire enterprise exceedingly vulnerable.

Israel’s survival will demand a great king.  What they got was not just a great one, but their greatest ruler.  David moves swiftly to stabilize the nation.  Jerusalem is captured and established as the new capital, the borders are secured and greatly expanded, enemies are subdued. Even the national religion is addressed–organization and order is brought to the numerous priests and Levites, the ark of the covenant is brought into Jerusalem, and, had God permitted, David would have also built a temple.

Israel’s prosperity continued throughout David’s reign and into that of Solomon, his son.

David’s life and reign were not without troubles.  Beginning with his sin with Bathsheba and through the debacle of Absalom’s rebellion, this man of God faced great turmoil during the final years of his life, much as he had previously while on the run from Saul.

One of the great treasures of Scripture is the Psalms.  David authored many of these beautiful, poignant, and expressive poetic offerings.  One of their great values is the insight provided into the mind and heart of David as he reflected on his life, its events, and his relationship with God.  We will take time to sample several of his Psalms in week 2.

Solomon, David’s son, is remembered for three things: his great wealth, his wisdom, and as the builder of the magnificent temple to God.  Sadly, Solomon’s life and reign do not end well; yet another testament to the need for continued faithfulness to God throughout our lives.

Solomon conveyed his great wisdom in much writing.  Three books are attributed to his pen: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.  We’ll make no effort to read all of these but will devote three days of our reading to a sampling of Solomon’s wisdom.

During the final week of April we’ll trace the story of the monarchy following Solomon.  Unfortunately that includes the kingdom dividing during the reign of his son Rehoboam.  As strong and lofty as the kingdom had risen under David and Solomon, it falls to great depths under the likes of Jeroboam and Ahab.  These spiritually trying times prompt the arrival of great prophets.  Though God has used many prophets before, none are utilized to the extent of Elijah.

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 23

July 23, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I have no idea who said it first, but timing really is everything. Who knows, maybe that person got the idea from Ecclesiastes 3. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (v. 1). In deciding appropriate behavior or action it’s not just a question of right or wrong, true or false. Is the time right? Is this the suitable season? These are no less important considerations. Yes, that requires a healthy measure of wisdom and discernment, which, you’ll recall, God said is ours for the asking (Jas. 1:5).

Questions to Ponder:

  • Which of these things for which there is a time, do we have the most trouble with?
  • Which of these “negative” activities are sometimes thought of as never being appropriate?
  • How does the general thought of these passages fit into the thinking that everything is “black and white, cut and dried”?
  • Does this text give support to the idea that there are no absolutes?

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 6

June 6, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—Ecclesiastes 12:1-14

The saying goes that the best time to plant an oak tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today. The wisdom of Ecclesiastes is sensitive to the timing of a person’s relationship with God. Youth is by far the best stage of life in which to begin one’s walk with God. Therefore, great effort and attention should be given to the spiritual influence of children. In the home and in the church, efforts made to lead young people to faith in Christ are well worth the investment of time, expense, thoughtful planning, cooperation, and energy. Failure here—in making the effort—is failure to recognize the wisdom of Scripture. But, unfortunately, youth does not always make the best decisions. God is often rejected, sometimes in the guise of postponing any such decision till later. So, to all for whom youth is but a memory, if the decision was not made then to follow Him, then today is the day.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What’s being described in vv. 2-6?
  • What is the “dust” that returns to the earth? (v. 7)
  • What is the warning of v. 12?
  • What is the end of the matter? (v. 13)

April 21 Bible Reading: Catch Up Day

This is the catch up day (if needed) for the third week of April.  No readings are planned, but below are some points to ponder based on this week’s readings.

1. The Bible makes no bones about the extent of Solomon’s wisdom: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30).  That is remarkable itself, but so is the fact that people were drawn to this man for his wisdom.  He was world-renown.  “And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).

People were drawn to, desired, and appreciated wisdom.  Who today is renown for their wisdom?  The fact is, we’re just not that interested in it.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Prov. 16:16)

2. The book of Proverbs is actually a collection of collections of Proverbs.   Notice these verses:

  • “The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel” (Prov. 1:1)
  • “The proverbs of Solomon” (Prov. 10:1).
  • “These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.” (Prov.    25:1).
  • “The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.” (Prov. 30:1)
  • “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:” (Prov. 31:1).

3. We sometimes think we know what God is up to; we’ve got figured out His actions and His deeds.  Probably not.  “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb1 of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Ecc. 11:5).

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For April week 3 Bible reading schedule CLICK HERE

For April’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

April 18 Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:11; 12

Old Testament books are arranged by types, not by chronology.  One of those types is sometimes called “Poetry”.  It includes the books from Job through Song of Solomon.  Maybe that title is appropriate since the largest book in this category, Psalms, is all poetic.  Others, though, are not at all.  Some people prefer to call this classification of books “Wisdom Literature”.  This descriptor is much more apt for Ecclesiastes.

In this book Solomon describes his effort to find meaning and purpose in life, through the pursuit of various goals; high achievement, wealth, pleasure, and so on.  Along the way he does gain some helpful insights, but the bottom line is, “Vanity of vanity, all is vanity.  What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecc. 1:2-3).  Finally, though, he provides his summation of it all in chapter 12.

Today, we will read a sampling of texts from this book.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For April week 3 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For April’s Bible reading schedule CLICK HERE

How Many Strands is Your Cord?

American culture is odd. I don’t mean to be critical, but what we as a people often admire and elevate is exactly wrong.

That’s true in many different ways, but think about this: how many of your heroes and legends are loners?  Go all the way back to characters like the Lone Ranger or the Clint Eastwood character in those “spaghetti” westerns or the tortured lonely superhero (think Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, etc., etc.).

We have elevated the notion of go-it-alone, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, leave-me-to-my-own-devices, to a fault.  And it really is a fault.  There is nothing wrong with being independent and self sufficient; but, that can go way too far.  We might end up handicapping ourselves unnecessarily from some of life’s greatest blessings: other people.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:9-12).

Have you left yourself with a cord of one strand?

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

April Week 3 Bible Reading Introduction: Solomon and His Wisdom

Introduction to April Week 3 Bible Reading

April 15-21

Solomon is remembered for several important achievements, gifts, and accomplishments. The successor to David’s throne impressed God with his foremost desire for wisdom to adequately rule His people.  Consequently God provided not only unparalleled wisdom, but also incomparable wealth.  Solomon’s reputation spread throughout the world.

In addition to these Solomon leaves a lasting legacy as the builder of God’s temple.  His father had been denied the right to construct God’s house in Jerusalem but had gone to great lengths to make extensive preparations for his son to do so.

Sadly, all of these blessings and advantages did not result in the kings continued faithfulness.  His life is a sad testimony to the fact that beginning well does not guarantee finishing well.

One expression of Solomon’s great wisdom was as an author.  The Bible’s books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are typically credited to him.  We’ll spend three days reading samples of his wisdom from these great books.  Another book attributed to him, but from which we will not read, is the Song of Solomon; a beautiful celebration of the intimate love of the marriage relationship.: