Solomon continues his discussion on the distinction of the wise and the foolish. One of the big distinctions that Solomon observed was the inability to foresee danger in the choices we make. Solomon looks at various scenarios like digging a pit or breaking through a wall. But the idea is if you are going to trap, steal, attack or pilfer–you must be ready for the consequence of your actions.
The wise color within the lines. They do not look for ways to sneak around the rules or gain something for nothing. Instead, they think through their choices and their actions. They work hard and smart. They use the right tools–ready and in good condition. They speak with reserve and don’t simply clamor to hear the sound of their own voice.
In our culture–we love to be the selfie royalty. We love to see our picture, hear our voice and find the loopholes to evade work and capture. God and Solomon remind us that that lifestyle leads to serious consequence. Be content to sit in the background. Affect lives from the wings. When you are center stage–be people of humility and integrity–then you will live long and fulfilled lives; and you will have a lasting impact and legacy.
God Bless You
8 Whoever digs a pit may fall into it;
whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
9 Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.
10 If the ax is dull
and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
but skill will bring success.
11 If a snake bites before it is charmed,
the charmer receives no fee.
12 Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious,
but fools are consumed by their own lips.
13 At the beginning their words are folly;
at the end they are wicked madness—
14 and fools multiply words.
No one knows what is coming—
who can tell someone else what will happen after them?
Stupidity has a very noticeable odor. When one is in a situation where stupidity reigns, it is itself intolerable. Stupidity has many side effects. It causes people to ignore God and become self-sufficient. It causes them to make choices that are life ending, life threatening, and world changing. As a former prosecutor, we always opined that the criminal code could be made a great deal more simple by adding a law called felony stupid.
Stupid not only lives in the criminal realm, it also lives in politics, corporate America and hold on to your hats, the church. As God’s chosen, we need to cling to the truth of his word and stand firm in what we know is right. We cannot succumb to the culture’s pressure to ignore what is right and decent to avoid offending those that make stupid choices.
As a father, husband, worker and follower of Christ, I am under scrutiny all the time. I make my share of dumb choices–and believe me, they stick out like dirty socks. I am grateful that God is full of grace and mercy and will forgive and restore those willing to admit and agree we make stupid choices– and seek to follow him in making the right choices as we move ahead.
God Bless You
As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left.
3 Even as fools walk along the road,
they lack sense
and show everyone how stupid they are.
4 If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
do not leave your post;
calmness can lay great offenses to rest.
5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
6 Fools are put in many high positions,
while the rich occupy the low ones.
So many people seek to exploit every trick and trade to advance themselves. In the ancient Greek story, Homer tells of a young prince that travels across the world to escape his horrible fate–only to run right into it. Life is very much like that. We do everything we can to escape our fates, only to find ourselves ensnared and entrapped in life’s circumstance without warning or protection. What Solomon sees, is that men would live better, fuller and more peaceful lives–if they would simply listen to the wise, and accept the lives they are in, and make the most of them.
The trick is not to focus on one’s own circumstances, but, instead to focus on God and his desire to give us a full and meaningful life. Wisdom dictates that we can live simply, humbly and gratefully; and in that, experience more joy and deeper peace, than if we were buried in ill-gotten fortune or unfettered ambition. There is never enough stuff for those who are obsessed with stuff. There is never enough excitement for those whose only solace comes from the next adventure.
Amazingly, those that seek God and are content with the life he has provided–find themselves steeped in peace and in joy no matter what circumstance appears. They celebrate life’s gifts, they endure life’s challenges. They push to be their best and to pour their lives into others, all the while, wisely accepting that control lies in the hand of the Creator. Make no mistake, they are not absolved from struggle and tragedy–they are simply equipped to endure it, and blessed with others with whom they may walk through it. That is the heart of wisdom, and that is the glory of being in relationship with God!
God Bless You
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.
17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good.
The uncertainty of life; it is truly a mixture of exciting and maddening to have to walk by faith. Solomon, speaks to faith from an unorthodox perspective. He sees that there is so little we actually control. Whether good or bad, responsible or not–God remains in charge. In his plan execution, God leaves us questioning the fairness, the logic and reason and even the holiness of God’s plan.
Truth is, we simply cannot know the mind or plans of God. We can choose to trust and follow him or choose to stay independent of him and do things our way. Each time we choose to follow him, the ultimate end is glorifying to him and most often great for us. We grow and are prepared to face any and all circumstances. That ability keeps us from being destroyed when things turn away from the normal. Sadly, those that refuse to follow often think they have the world by the tail–only to find they were deceived and entrapped into a life of emptiness with little to show for their journey but trinkets that go on eBay.
Solomon put a nice point on the issue in Proverbs 3 when he said–“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your path straight.”
God Bless You
So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
As it is with the good,
so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
so with those who are afraid to take them.
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
5 For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even their name is forgotten.
6 Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom
Some of the wisest words from the wisest king that ruled were simply this, “Life simply is not fair…so, deal with it!” Make no mistake–we live in a system that bends over backward to keep things fair and equitable. As societies develop, they work to implement systems and laws that protect those that could not protect themselves. But, despite men’s best efforts–some that are evil end up better off than those that try to do the right things for the right reasons.
Solomon saw that in Israel–They were at the top of their rise. They were one of the richest nations on earth–at that time. Solomon was the wisest and most clever king–YET, evil still lurked on the street and men were still exploited, maimed and murdered. This had the propensity to make the king crazy, but, instead he simply saw the truth–life is not fair.
His solution was simple, as well. Live a good life–work hard and be honest. Still, the King realized that men should enjoy their lives and their families. Make great memories and have laughter. Let the little stuff go; and, as Christians, focus on how to make the most of your days together. That is the only wise response to a world that will never be fair.
God Bless You
There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt. 10 Then too, I saw the wicked buried—those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. 12 Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. 13 Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.
14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. 15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.
No matter when or where you start, there simply has not been a more amazing gift ever given. We celebrate Christmas with incredible décor, feasting and gift exchange. It is that one time each year when we all step outside our desire for self-preservation and gratification and look to do kind things for others. It is a great holiday that highlights what is good in us, rather, than what is bad with the world.
I would like to wish each and everyone a joyous Christmas and an opportunity to lay aside whatever stands between you and our Savior. Make this Christmas the one where you accept the real gift He offers–a fresh start, an abundant life and an eternity in God’s presence–not separated form the joy set before us!
Hallelujah and God Bless You
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
The problem with rebellion is that it rarely ends well. As a race, people have an innate desire to remain free and independent. From our youth, we typically buck authority, if the outcome, is other than our desire. Solomon, the King of Israel, gives the wise and inside track on why rebellion is senseless. As the supreme authority, he saw those that are ruled may not question their rulers. When they do–no good comes of it.
In addition, times are always fragile. No matter how tempting it is to step out and take over; things often change in a heartbeat rendering the rebellious exposed and helpless. The wise would say–“Do the right things for your rulers. Work hard and color within the lines. As you do, you will have nothing to fear.”
As wee seek the Lord, it is the same. Simply trust and follow him and you will see that his plan will carry you to a full and meaningful life. While the journey will be full of twists, turns, mountains and valleys–simply trusting and obeying God will lead to a great and marvelous end! God appoints the sovereign for his purpose–trust God, follow his plan, trust him, no matter the sovereign–as you do, you will see God has things well in hand!
God Bless You
Who is like the wise?
Who knows the explanation of things?
A person’s wisdom brightens their face
and changes its hard appearance.
Obey the King
2 Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God. 3 Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. 4 Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?”
5 Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm,
and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
though a person may be weighed down by misery.
7 Since no one knows the future,
who can tell someone else what is to come?
8 As no one has power over the wind to contain it,
so no one has power over the time of their death.
As no one is discharged in time of war,
so wickedness will not release those who practice it.
The world has spent its life trying to make sense of things. It has tried to use everything in its little box to explain the things of God. As each year passes, men attempt to explain the supernatural hand of God by using simple natural explanations–it always ends up foolish.
Solomon was clear–when we base wisdom on men’s ideas and thoughts, it never comes out well. Men should walk in reverence to God–the master and creator of all; but, instead–they work to minimize his creation and his influence on daily lives. All that is necessary is simply to look up and see–the vastness of our universe, the creative nature of our planet, the variance in life, and the unique nature of men. From that ultra-phenomenal view, we should kneel in awe and reverence to a God that did such an amazing thing, and still cares individually for us.
Solomon’s wisdom led him to see that there are none righteous–all have sinned and will sin. God, who created men and gave them the ability to choose, knew men would naturally pull away from him. Still, he loved us and on this very occasion of Christmas–came to earth and filled the gap men’s evil hearts have made. It always comes back to the most simple thing–fear God, live well and love others.
God Bless You
In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:
the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
and the wicked living long in their wickedness.
16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—
why destroy yourself? 17 Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—why die before your time?
18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.
Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.
19 Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful
than ten rulers in a city.
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
no one who does what is right and never sins.
21 Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you may hear your servant cursing you—
22 for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.
The older we get, the more we come to realize that our reputation and integrity are our most valued treasure. We also come to realize that the end of the journey often holds more value than does the beginning. Merlin, of King Arthur fame said it best, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Solomon is stating the case that, while frivolity, laughter and fun are enjoyable and memorable–it is our trials, the mourning, and the struggles in our lives that define us.
He also wants to make clear, that it means more to have a good name than it does to have a house full of treasure or a schedule full of games and parties. We all love to have fun. Games, vacations, family gatherings all are wonderful–but, it is our handling of life and its daily challenges that define us, strengthen us and equip us to lead and teach others about God and his power. Protect your name–do not let a circumstance destroy what you have built for a lifetime. Embrace those moments and people in your life that make you stronger. Don’t only seek yes men and charmers–seek those willing to keep you accountable and willing to speak the truth in love. They will bring you a great name and a lasting legacy.
God Bless You
A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
3 Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
than to listen to the song of fools.
6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of fools.
This too is meaningless