BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday November 24, 2013
IS THERE ANY HOPE?
(Being content in life)
King Solomon loved wisdom and he seemed to embrace it closer than anything else in his life, most of the time. He wholeheartedly believed in the precious value of incorporating GOD’s wisdom in all of life’s situations, and he lent very little credence to relying on “human wisdom” to solve the problems he faced during his reign as king.
Ecclesiastes 9:1-11:6 is characterized by the repeating of the phrases “no man knows” and “you do not know”, as this section deals with “man’s inability to predict what will happen in life, be it good or bad”. However, probably the key phrase to consider in the book of Ecclesiastes is the one “under the sun”, which is used 29 times in this book. Whenever we see this phrase, it describes how Solomon was looking at life from a human, rather than a heavenly, perspective, and we all know, life from a human perspective can often look bleak, hopeless, and meaningless.
Whenever we choose to go “our own way”, we automatically move farther and farther away from GOD, and, in the end, the separation becomes so wide, that GOD is reduced to this obscure figure in our minds and lives, whom we once knew, and, of which at that time, we will seek only to avoid. The farther Solomon got away from GOD, the emptier, and more meaningless his life became. He began to see no advantage to following GOD, because the same experiences and fates befell people, regardless of their spiritual perspective (Ecclesiastes 9:3-7). In other words, GOD’s “fair judgment” (justice) awaits all people, regardless of their chosen faiths and lifestyles, and they all face the same proportion of “adversity” and “prosperity” in life.
When good things happen to righteous people, they serve to bless GOD, and the people around them, however, when good things happen to unbelievers, it only serves as a test to those observing believers whose faith in GOD is not where it should be. Whenever Christians envy worldly people, it is a sign that their hearts are not fixed on GOD as it should be, and they are not sold on the truth that “GOD is in control”.
In verses 8-10 Solomon says again that a man should enjoy the brief life that he has and even partake in all of the finer things that GOD provides him with. He should live happily with the wife he loves throughout his whole life. The wife GOD gives us is our reward for all of our earthly toil (v.9). For when we die there will be no work or planning, or knowledge or wisdom (v.10).
In verse 11 Solomon gives us a list of some other things that he observed during his short lifetime regarding human abilities:
· The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race.
· The strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle.
· The wise are often poor.
· The skillful are not necessarily wealthy.
· Those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives.
All people are subjected to times of misfortunes in life that do not necessarily lead to death. GOD is in control of all of our fates and fortunes, including life and death. HE allows us to make our own choices, not our own circumstances. We never know when and if GOD might allow us to have great fortune or fame, mediocre lives, or very humble existences. It’s up to HIM, at all times. We can never control, or predict, when prosperity, or hard times might come. Like fish in a net, or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy (v.12).
In Ecclesiastes 9:13-18, Solomon relates the story of a small town whose citizens faced the threat of being overtaken by a powerful king, and it is in his darkened human perspective that he recalls this incident. There was a poor, but wise man who dwelt among the citizenry of that town that knew of a way to save this town from certain doom. Solomon doesn’t say exactly how the man managed to rescue the town, however, one can only surmise that it was through some sort of cleaver negotiations since, apparently, no shots were fired. We are told, also, that the poor man was soon forgotten, because of his insignificant social status in the town, and, that he lived out the remainder of his life in obscurity despite his valuable contribution to their survival.
Solomon was highly impressed by this incident and he seemed to draw very strong conclusions from it. He says he learned from it, that, even though wisdom is better than physical strength, those who are wise may be despised if they are poor, and what they say, won’t be appreciated for long. Even so, the quiet words of a wise person are better than the shouts of a foolish king. A wise person can overcome strong weapons of war, but one foolish sinner can destroy a multitude of good things (Vs. 16-18).
And so, Solomon concedes in the end that GODly wisdom is greater than physical strength, but he still seems irritated by the fact that no one else seems to notice. However, even when doing the right thing seems to go unnoticed by man, or does not result in personal victory or recognition, what’s important is that GOD is taking note, and we need to always try to do the right thing every single time anyway. Doing the right thing will never go unnoticed by GOD, no matter how stupid the world may make you feel for doing it. After all, we have to keep in mind that “it is the world” and all of scripture tells us, that, the world belongs to satan, and is thereby, anti-CHRIST. At some point, we have to stop expecting good things from a world that insists on being apart from GOD. “Only GOD is good”- JESUS CHRIST (Mark 10:18).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website