Wisdom Books Part 5 of 5

Wisdom Books Part 5 of 5

The Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon comprise the Hebrew wisdom literature and form a unit. As such, they offer deep insights into the biblically legitimate ways to understand both life and the Author of life. This series will examine each book in successive order. SONG OF SOLOMON Song of Solomon is easily the most controversial book in the wisdom literature or perhaps in all of the Bible. If these books are a commentary on life, as I have suggested, then surely the message of this book is that life is about love. This accords well with the rest of Scripture. Paul writes to Timothy, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). But the love in Solomon’s Song is a very passionate love. And God built people for passion. Is Solomon teaching us that we must be passionate about God? If then, I have more passion for someone or something other than Christ, is that not idolatry? And if I am an idolater, what can I do but first declare myself the chief sinner, and then beg His forgiveness and plead that He would teach me to love Him with all my being. It is no compliment to God that I or any of His creatures should be so deficient in loving Him, such that we by nature expend our passions more on the creation than the Creator. But this highlights another feature of the love in Solomon’s Song – its exclusivity. Song of Solomon and Job have in...
Wisdom Books Part 4 of 5

Wisdom Books Part 4 of 5

The Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon comprise the Hebrew wisdom literature and form a unit. As such, they offer deep insights into the biblically legitimate ways to understand both life and the Author of life. This series will examine each book in successive order. ECCLESIASTES If Proverbs teaches the importance of wisdom, Ecclesiastes discloses at least one important thing that unaided reason cannot achieve; and that is to establish purpose. Solomon, the wisest of men examines “life under the sun” and deduces, not purpose but vanity and meaninglessness. His conclusion to the effect that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13), does not follow from anything that preceded it in the book. Rather, it is revealed to him by God, who is not “under the sun” but in heaven. Ecclesiastes then teaches the crucial truth that purpose must come from “outside the system.” A case could be made that Ecclesiastes is the book for our generation. In an affluent culture, such as ours, one can find many distractions from the “vanity” of life and thereby dull the pain that purposelessness is meant to induce. The pain of futility and boredom is given by God to drive us into the arms of His Son. For apart from Jesus, one cannot understand that we have both a common and a unique purpose. Preparation for eternity with Christ is common to all of His followers but, in addition, we are each unique with an individual purpose. Only in Christ can one, by faith, know his purpose. Without a clear...
Wisdom Books Part 3 of 5

Wisdom Books Part 3 of 5

The Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon comprise the Hebrew wisdom literature and form a unit. As such, they offer deep insights into the biblically legitimate ways to understand both life and the Author of life. This series will examine each book in successive order. PROVERBS Proverbs frames life in terms of wisdom and knowledge, exhorting us to “Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:5-7). Wisdom is personified as being with God at creation (Proverbs 8), and in Christ “…are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3). (I will be using knowledge and wisdom interchangeably, though there are nuances of difference.) Clearly wisdom and knowledge are important to God. However, they can easily be misused for both are seductresses. This is not because of a failing in them but in us. Reason is necessary for the apprehension of knowledge. Ever since Eden and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, man’s reason has tempted him to treat knowledge as an end in itself. When we use our reason to do so, we are seduced into inventing idols of our own imaginations. And those idols lead men into sin, error, pride and presumption. Granted, there are many secondary reasons for the acquisition of knowledge, but we do well to remember that God accepts nothing that is not done for...
Wisdom Books Part 2 of 5

Wisdom Books Part 2 of 5

The Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon comprise the Hebrew wisdom literature and form a unit. As such, they offer deep insights into the biblically legitimate ways to understand both life and the Author of life. This series will examine each book in successive order.   PSALMS The Psalms cause us to think of life as a poem, a poem which tells a story. Ephesians 2:10 seizes on this thought, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” The Greek word for “workmanship” is “poiema,” from which the English word poem comes. His story is my story, as His works are my works. Earnestly seeking His works keeps us on the straight and narrow. When, one day, this world is in the distant past, we will look back and see the poem that God was writing in our lives. I believe this is what Revelation 2:17 refers to, “To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” Each who belongs to Christ is a unique poem written to and for the Lover of his soul. Just as there are many psalms, so there are many stories. The psalms vary, as our stories vary, and each is precious to Christ. After all, it is only through His death that our story is made possible. Our lives are adding up to something of...
Wisdom Books Part 1 of 5

Wisdom Books Part 1 of 5

The Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon The Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon comprise the Hebrew wisdom literature and form a unit. As such, they offer deep insights into the biblically legitimate ways to understand both life and the Author of life. This series will examine each book in successive order. JOB The book of Job views life as suffering. All suffer, though in varying degrees. What is the origin and source of pain? People everywhere instinctively associate it with sin, which accords with God’s purposes since He linked sin to pain in the curses of Genesis 3. Sin and pain do not have a one to one correspondence; but by decree God connects the two in our minds and sometimes in our experience. Why would He do that? God’s purposes toward His elect are redemptive rather than punitive. Pain and suffering are not expressions of His wrath. Rather, they are the loving and gracious inventions of God, whose purpose it is to alert us to the presence and danger of sin. Suffering is one of those rare direct conduits to the soul that bypasses reason and goes directly to the soul itself. Suffering is not an intellectual exercise. All of our being is enveloped in a black shroud, all peace is banished, and sense of well-being lost, while the soul endures its dark night. One must be convicted of sin, not pain. But if it is the soul itself that pain targets, what is its intended effect? Pain compels questions and the first question is usually, “What did I...
Perspective and Reality

Perspective and Reality

David, from Psalm 27: “When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; thou war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.” — Vs 2-3. How to get this kind of perspective? We don’t know much about David’s enemies, but he had plenty. He may have been in war in the spiritual realm, maybe health, financial and relational challenges. We do know the opposition was colluding, surrounding him, intent on taking him down. The perspective of the natural man is that he needs to take on his enemies, up his game, do more and do it better, somehow muster up some courage even though it be hopeless. Or maybe the trouble is too overwhelming, he is alone and strategizing on how to fold his tent and save face. Any man would be void of confidence, filled with dread and fear, plotting his defenses and getting ready to deal with the shame of defeat. Then David makes an extraordinary statement: “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” — V 4 In the middle of facing all his encroaching enemies, certain failure and impending threat of death, David boils it down to one desire: dwell in the presence of God and meditate! What kind of man thinks like this?! The outcome is found in...