Day #327: Daily Bible Reading Plan - November 20th
Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 9 - 10 ...
We have seen that Solomon's book of Ecclesiastes consists of Solomon's exploration of the philosophies of man concerning life in this world. He writes in Chapter 1, verse 17: "Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind." Some of what Solomon writes doesn't make sense unless you remember that he is sometimes writing what life looks at from a mere human perspective and other times commenting on the supposed "wisdom" of mankind from God's perspective. That's why you can read some of the things he says and wonder what he was thinking! The thoughts of man often make no sense.
Chapter 9 begins with a clear statement of truth: "So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God's hands" (9:1). That is so true! God watches over the righteous ... those who know and love Him and who seek to live in obedience to His Word. Then Solomon adds, "but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. All share a common destiny ... the same destiny overtakes them all" (9:2-3). When you look at things from man's perspective, it's easy to get depressed. It doesn't appear to make any difference at times whether you do good or bad. The difference is often in a man's heart and your response to what happens. Even those who don't know God or trust in Him sometimes say, "Life is 10% what happens and 90% attitude!" But there's more to it than that! You either know the God Who is at work in your life and in the world or you don't. THAT's what makes the difference!
Solomon talks about the dead and the living as though there is no life beyond the grave. He says "the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. ... never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun" (9:5-6). We know from the rest of Scripture that there IS more beyond the grave, and that those who know Jesus Christ will live forever. From man's perspective, this life is all there is, but God tells us there is more. Remember, Solomon is talking about life as people who don't know God look at it. They are right about one thing: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom" (9:10). There are two destinations beyond the grave: the presence of God and the glory of eternal life, OR separation from God and the despair of eternal death.
From man's perspective, "Time and chance happen to them all. ... no man knows when his hour will come" (9:11-12). Do you see why it's so easy to get depressed? There is nothing to hold on to in this world. Things might go well for a while, but then everything can change in a moment. If GOD is not in control, then luck, chance or fate control your destiny and it's all as Solomon says, "Meaningless; a chasing after the wind." People spend endless hours and much money trying to figure out a way to live life that will give it meaning and purpose, but apart from God nothing really makes sense. Some try to do good; others try to do evil. And what does it all mean if there is nothing past the grave? So most people try to make themselves believe that there is something beyond the grave, even though they have no proof, no evidence, no certainty beyond what they have convinced themselves of.
Some look at Christianity that way. They think believing in Jesus is a "crutch," something that just fools do to try to get through life. They're wrong ... but they don't know they're wrong. Solomon contends that there is a difference between those who receive wisdom from the Lord and those who don't. "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. Even as he walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is" (10:2-3). It would be easier to discern who is a fool if they never got anywhere in life and nothing they tried succeeded, but "Fools are put in many high positions!" (10:6). Sometimes fools succeed ... to their own judgment! Ultimately, it is God who determines who is wise and who is a fool. To those who know Him and who humble themselves before Him, God gives wisdom; but to those who reject His Word and who turn away from sound counsel, there is only judgment.
There ARE some ways to determine who is foolish and who is wise. Solomon reveals one of those in 10:12: "Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips" (10:12). If you listen to someone long enough you will quickly discover whether their life revolves around themselves or around GOD! The fool loves to talk about himself (or herself). In fact, it's hard to get them to stop talking about themselves. "At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness - and the fool multiplies words" (10:13-14). Fools don't like to work, they do it out of necessity and are often lazy. They like to "make merry" and they think that "money is the answer for everything" (10:19).
Even reading this is depressing. If this is your perspective on life, it's a good way to get yourself depressed. I am convinced that many find life overwhelming and depressing because they simply have nothing to hold onto. Solomon rightly presents the perspective of many as they struggle through this life, hoping that things will get better, but meeting one hurdle after another after another until they just give up or give in. There's a better way ... a MUCH better way to live life. If you're depressed and "at the end of your rope," turning in faith to the God who controls every detail, every circumstance of life, is the only possibility for change. Yet, it is precisely here that those who have not come to God through faith in Christ falter. They won't humble themselves and come to God because they blame HIM for the problems they're facing!!
Some make wrong decisions their whole life, ignoring God, rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, yet demanding that God bail them out of their circumstances and give them what they want. Then there are those preachers and teachers that make it sound as though God is our Servant, as though He exists to give us our every desire, to make us healthy, wealthy and wise. But we are here to glorify God, to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him. THAT is wisdom! Anything else is meaningless and looking at life as though you are supposed to be the center of it leads to despair. Everything and everybody disappoints you because they're not doing what YOU want. It's a good way to get yourself depressed.
But you don't have to go there. God has a better way. Turn to Him, trust Him, lean on Him, ask Him to help You, to give you what you NEED, not what you want, and He will do it. Solomon learned the way of wisdom, as he explained it in Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge HIM, and He will make your paths straight." God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to open the door of access to His throne. Hear Jesus voice and do what He says, "Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest!" (Matthew 11:28).
"Heavenly Father, the ways of this world and the thoughts of those who do not know You lead to frustration and despair. I thank You for giving me Your Spirit and leading me to place my trust in You. Forgive me in those moments when I look at the world from a merely human perspective and grow weary. Give me wisdom to find my hope and my strength in You alone, my Savior and my God, in Jesus' name, Amen"