Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ecclesiastes 11: Known And Unknown

As Ecclesiastes enters its home stretch, Solomon offers several final observations about things that we should know, and matters that we cannot know.

Ecclesiastes 10: The Field Guide To Fools

As a wise man, Solomon apparently found himself perturbed by fools.  In Ecclesiastes, he has much advice to give on how to identify, and thus avoid, fools.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ecclesiastes 9: Fatalism (Or Que Sera, Sera)

It's hard to disagree with Solomon's wisdom and his honest observations of life.  It's also hard to dispute the notion that reading Ecclesiastes is something of a downer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ecclesiastes 8: Value Or Vanity?

As Solomon continues searching through various activities and life experiences in his quest for wisdom and understanding, he frequently issues one of two verdicts: either something is considered to be a good worth pursuing or else it is deemed a worthless vanity.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Psalm 100: All The Right Notes

Psalm 100 is a very compact psalm (only 5 verses long) yet still manages to hit all the right notes as a song of praise and thanksgiving.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ecclesiastes 7: The Limits Of Experience

Solomon is known for being wise, of course.  What comes through in Ecclesiastes 7 is that he is also very experienced.  Many of his sayings are distilled from the years he has spent observing life.  As he remarks, "In my vain life I have seen everything..." (vs. 15).

Ecclesiastes 6: Evil Under The Sun

I wonder if Solomon was talking about himself in Ecclesiastes 6?  Tradition tells us that Ecclesiastes is the product of his old age, whereas Proverbs was written in his middle age and the Song of Solomon in his youth.  If this is the case, then perhaps we have here the observations of a man frustrated about his impending mortality and the inevitability of his leave-taking of the world.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ecclesiastes 5: How Much Is Enough?

"The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain.  This also is vanity" (vs. 10).

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ecclesiastes 4: What Is Better?

Part of wisdom's benefit comes from the insight it gives us into which state of affairs may be better for us.  Whenever we get a chance to make choices regarding our situation, we do well to do so with wisdom.  In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon offers his opinion on several matters about what is better.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Psalm 99: Mighty King

Twin themes emerge from Psalm 99: God is king, and He is mighty.  The psalm even begins, "The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!  He sits enthroned among the cherubim; let the earth quake!"  From there, we continue to hear both of God's great and awesome name, as well as His royal reign over His people Israel.  Both acts of power and justice are recounted as emblematic of the Lord's nature.  The psalm concludes with the imperative, "Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy" (vs. 9).

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ecclesiastes 3: Timeless Words

In many of the funeral services I conduct, I incorporate Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 as a frame for talking about the life of the deceased.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ecclesiastes 1: A Depressing State Of Affairs

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  It's so...dark.

Proverbs 31: Of Moms And Wives

It is perhaps fitting that a book dedicated to wisdom ends with advice from a mother and an ode to a wife.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Proverbs 30: The Prayer Of Goldilocks

Proverbs 30 is ascribed to Agur, son of Jakeh.  Who was Agur?  After researching it, I discovered that there are many theories, from Agur being a nomadic wise man who lived between Israel and Babylon to the name merely being a code word for Solomon.  Basically, however, nobody has any real evidence so it all remains speculation!  Whoever he is, however, Agur does have some very interesting insights to share!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Psalm 98: Joy In The Lord

Four times the psalmist uses a variation of the word "joy" in this short psalm.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

Proverbs 28: Crime Does Not Pay

With all the teachings against wickedness and foolishness we find in Proverbs, you may wonder why anyone would ever choose to go down that path.  There are so many warnings against evil, why do people still sin?  Proverbs says that even though the wicked may prosper for a time, they will find out that, in the end, crime does not pay.

Proverbs 27: What Does The Future Hold?

At several points in the Book of Proverbs, you can hear a hint of the New Testament coming through.  There's a great example of this connection between the Testaments in chapter 27.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Proverbs 26: A Proverb For All Seasons

It is one thing to revere the proverbs and look upon them as the revealed Word of God.  It is another to deploy them properly in the right context.  After all, "a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver" (25:11).

Proverbs 25: Solomon's Similes

Beginning in chapter 25, we see a subtle shift in the tone and format of the proverbs.  The chapter begins, "These are other proverbs of Solomon that the officials of King Hezekiah of Judah copied" (vs. 1).  Compiled by a later king, these recorded words of Solomon have a slightly different feel than what went before.  For instance, we find a lot of similes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Proverbs 24: The Thread Of Wisdom

Running all through the tapestry that is the Book of Proverbs is one thread: the consistent call to a life of wisdom!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Proverbs 23: Not-So-Common Sense

Many of the proverbs reinforce the common sense things that we already know - or, at least, the common sense things that we should know.

Proverbs 22: Proverbial Proverbs

Proverbs has added many treasured sayings and expressions to our culture.  A couple of them make appearances in chapter 22.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Proverbs 21: Women Trouble

How different do you think the Proverbs would be if they had been composed by women?

Proverbs 20: Some Things About Kings

In addition to being a book of teachings and instruction about life and commerce, Proverbs also includes many lessons about those who, like Solomon, hold the responsibilities of royal rule.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Psalm 97: What Does Glory Look Like?

We hear a lot about God's "glory" in the Bible, especially in the Psalms.  But just what do we mean by that?  What does glory look like?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Proverbs 19: Poor Treatment

Proverbs wrestles with the treatment of the poor and addresses the poor treatment that those living in poverty often receive.

Proverbs 18: The Power Of The Tongue

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (vs. 21).  Solomon's proverbs reveal an abiding interest in the power of speech to bring about good or cause harm.

Proverbs 17: Mama Didn't Raise No Fool?

One of Solomon's themes in Proverbs is the relationship between parents and their children.  When the children are wise and good, the household is happy.  But parents that raise a fool will find themselves filled with heartache and misery.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Proverbs 16: The God Behind The Curtain

Ever heard the expression, "There is a God, and you're not Him?"  While not officially one of Solomon's proverbs, that saying does complement one of themes in his book.  Many proverbs indicate that, although we often presume that we are the ones in charge, God has actually reserved for Himself the ability to call the shots.  We call this concept "sovereignty."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Proverbs 15: The Limits Of Prosperity

"Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.  Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it" (vs. 16-17).

Proverbs 14: Observations

Some of the proverbs are "didactic"; that is, Solomon is attempting to teach a moral lesson or instruct us how to act ethically.  Others, however, are more in line with philosophical observations about life.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Proverbs 13: Binary World

My son Daniel is currently in his junior year at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.  One of the campus features is a long "binary" sidewalk made up of 1s and 0s.  It actually spells out a message if you know the code.  In a binary language, everything is reduced to one of two possible states: off or on, yes or no, 1 or 0, black or white.  The proverbs of Solomon reveal that he often viewed the world in such binary terms, divided between the righteous and the wicked.

Proverbs 12: Prerequisite For Proverbs

Solomon's book of proverbs is filled with lots of good advice - but what good does any of it do if we don't approach it with a teachable spirit?

Proverbs 11: God's Economy

There are dozens of proverbs to be found in chapter 11, but I'd like to focus on two verses that stood out to me: "Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want.  A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives water will get water" (vs. 24-25).