Friday, September 2, 2011

September 2- Mama Said There'll Be Days Like This...

September 2, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13;
Psalm 46:1-11; Proverbs 22:15

Mama said there'll be days like this,
There'll be days like this Mama said.
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there'll be days like this,
There'll be days like this my Mama said.
~The Shirelles

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22

We've all heard the stories of lottery winners who are presented to the world as the luckiest people on the planet after getting a guarantee of millions of dollars.  Later, after the bright lights have dimmed and the cameras are no longer focused on the person, they often come to financial, emotional, and even physical ruin.  Why is this?  Today, Solomon writes a book that reflects the wisdom of man. 

Solomon was the son of King David and the beautiful Bathsheba.  He was chosen to rule the kingdom after the death of his father, David.  Solomon was the wisest man to ever live.  When asked by God what he might desire from God, Solomon asked for wisdom to rule the nation of Israel wisely.  God granted Solomon that wisdom.  As we read Solomon's writings, which include the Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes, we see that Solomon was the wisest man on earth, but also played the fool in his life.  The book of Proverbs shows us Solomon's wisdom. The book of Ecclesiastes shows us Solomon's foolishness.  This book takes the approach of living life apart from God.  Human philosophy apart from God is highlighted in Ecclesiastes, and the writer comes to the conclusion that human philosophy, apart from God, is vanity or emptiness.  Solomon proves to the world that happiness apart from God is impossible.

God showed the righteous man, Job, that he was a sinner.  Now, God shows the wise man Solomon that he is a fool.  This book does not contain images or references to Christ.  This book is about trying to find purpose apart from Christ.  The conclusion is that life without Christ has no purpose.  When we read the phrases, "I said in my heart"  and "under the sun,"  these are expressions of a person coming to their own conclusions based on their own intelligence and human experiences.  Solomon has written for us a vivid autobiography of his experiments with living apart from God's will.  Have you ever done that?  If you have, you will relate to many of the things written in this book.

Here we go...

Ecclesiastes means preacher or philosopher.  Although he calls himself the Preacher, perhaps he should be calling himself the Philosopher, because we are getting human philosophy from Solomon though out this book.  The Preacher is correct in warning us that vanity or emptiness is everywhere.  This is true, apart from God.   The Preacher asks an important question...what do people get for all of their hard work?  Nothing really changes.

Solomon now starts his experiment, which will last from chapter 1:4 through chapter 12.  First, Solomon studies the laws of nature.  He comes to the following conclusions:
  • There is predictability and monotony in nature.
  • History repeats itself.
  • The greater your wisdom, the greater your grief.
Solomon's next experiment was to be hedonistic and materialistic, giving pleasure a try.  Let's see how that works out.
  • Laughing all the time is silly.
  • Wine does not cure problems.
  • Big houses don't make you happy.
  • Parks and reservoirs don't satisfy the heart.
  • Owning slaves, possessions, gold, silver, concubines, and entertainers is meaningless.
Solomon concludes that hedonism was like chasing the wind.  Solomon despairs over the prospect that even wisdom does not prevent a person from dying and being forgotten.  Wisdom, too, is pointless under this scenario.  This brings him to hate life.

Solomon attempts to see if hard work will satisfy his soul.  There is a problem with this, too. He hates that his hard work and possessions are left to people who did not earn them when he dies. How pointless is that?  Next, he decides to turn to food and drink.  No solution there.

Next, is the famous "there is a time for everything under the sun," but remember that the phrase under the sun implies things done in the effort of humans apart from God.  This leads Solomon to pronounce a fatalistic philosophy.  Solomon, at this point, does not acknowledge God's mercy or grace.  Prayer is not factored in, and God is presented as powerful, but not approachable by man. 

Solomon continues by becoming cynical about mankind. He concludes that you can't trust anybody.  People are corrupt. They are no better than the animals, according to this philosophy.  Solomon even shows that this vein of thinking leads to the conclusion that you might as well live however you want, because no one is going to bring the dead back from death to enjoy life in the future.

As Christians, we know that these conclusions from the foolish Solomon are just that, foolish.  This is the point of the book of Ecclesiastes, to show foolish human philosophy.  Keep that in mind as you read.

Do you find yourself falling into the cynical patterns presented here?  Can you relate to Solomon's journey?  These are things to contemplate as we read.

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Today, Paul is proving that as a minister of Christ, his behavior has warranted people believing that today is the day of salvation.  We get an honest look at what Paul has endured for Christ:
  • troubles, hardships and calamities
  • beatings
  • jail
  • angry mobs
  • working to exhaustion
  • sleepless nights
  • starvation
Paul describes a life of trials that is, none the less, filled with joy.  This is in direct contrast to the hopeless meaninglessness of what Solomon is describing in the book of Ecclesiastes.  Paul's purpose in Christ makes all challenges in his life purposeful.  Because there is a reason for his suffering, Paul finds joy in all things and all circumstances.  Rather than despairing, Paul is rejoicing.  God brings purpose to human existence.  Notice how different the tone of writing is in our two passages today.

Do you adopt Solomon's tone and philosophy in your life or Paul's?

Psalm 46:1-11

Here is psalm that indicates that God is near to us and helps us.  This is very different than the approach taken in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Proverbs 22:15

Did you know that foolishness can be driven out of a person by discipline?  That is an important thing for all of us to realize.

What did you see today as you read?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton 

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