Thursday, October 6, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 9, 2011

(Quiet wisdom can prevail)
(Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)

In the biblical Greek, the word used for “Preacher” is “Ecclesiastes”, and in the biblical Hebrew, it is “Qoheleth” (Ko-heh-leth). Qoheleth is the name by which King Solomon identifies himself in the book of Ecclesiastes in his original writings. In this book, Solomon attempts to display the dark philosophy of a person who looked for peace, apart from GOD, and of course, in the end, realizes how futile that is.
This books pessimistic tone may seem somewhat out of place in the bible, which is, for the most part, a book of vibrant hope and inspiration for all who choose to seek GOD’s directions in life. However, here Solomon is trying to teach us a valuable lesson by showing us how unproductive it is to search for life’s answers through the senses, or, through the material world, rather than through seeking wisdom from GOD.
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.
When we choose to go our own way, we automatically move farther and farther away from GOD, and, in the end, the separation has become so wide, that GOD has been reduced to this obscure figure in our lives whom we once knew, and, of which then, 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. He lost sight of the truth that when good things happen to righteous people, they bless GOD and the people around them, but 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 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 it 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


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