Not the spirit of the world…

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” 1 Corinthians 2:12 NASB

As we turn our attention to the Book of 1st Corinthians, I am reminded of how important it is for the church, although in the world, to not be of the world.

The word wisdom is used frequently in this epistle. We grow as believers not by human wisdom but by the wisdom taught by the Holy Spirit.

The church at Corinth was evidently struggling with this concept.

You might remember from Acts 18, that Paul spent some time in Corinth preaching the gospel during his second missionary journey.

When opposition grew, the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, telling him to not be afraid and to keep up the work of the gospel.  Paul would stay in Corinth for 18 months, “teaching them the word of God.”

Paul would go on to help plant and cultivate the church in Corinth.

Corinth was an important trade city, and was well known for its temple to Aphrodite – in addition to being a thriving port city, Corinth was infamous for its vice and immorality.

John MacArthur’s Commentary on Corinthians summarizes it this way:

“The most serious problem of the Corinthian church was worldliness, an unwillingness to divorce the culture around them.

Most of the believers could not consistently separate themselves from their old, selfish, immoral, and pagan ways.

It became necessary for Paul to write to correct this, as well as to command the faithful Christians not only to break fellowship with the disobedient and unrepentant members, but to put those members out of the church” – see 1 Corinthians 5:9–13.

As you read through the letter, notice how Paul addresses each issue in the church by drawing them back to Jesus.

Paul is reminding the church that we are not to succumb to the spirit of the world, but are to be taught and renewed through the Holy Spirit.

When we lose sight of Jesus, we begin to slip into our former selves, accepting the human wisdom of the culture that is around us by suppressing the truth that comes from the Holy Spirit.

In John 17 Jesus prayed for His followers with this thought in mind.

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”  John 17: 14-17 NASB

Jesus knew we would have to interact with the world, there is no other way to share the gospel – but we are to be separate from the world and its teachings, sanctified in truth.

We are to live and love in the Spirit of truth.

Indeed, we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God.

Until next time…keep reading!

Jim

August 25 – OT Reading

Proverbs 30-31

 

Proverbs 30

The Words of Agur

30 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle.

The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:

Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name?
Surely you know!

Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
Do not add to His words
Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

10 Do not slander a slave to his master,
Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.

11 There is a kind of man who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
12 There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
13 There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.
14 There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords
And his jaw teeth like knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.

15 The leech has two daughters,
“Give,” “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:
16 Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “Enough.”
17 The eye that mocks a father
And scorns a mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young eagles will eat it.

18 There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Four which I do not understand:
19 The way of an eagle in the sky,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid.
20 This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
And says, “I have done no wrong.”

21 Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
22 Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
23 Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.

24 Four things are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
25 The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;
26 The shephanim are not mighty people,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
27 The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in ranks;
28 The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
Yet it is in kings’ palaces.

29 There are three things which are stately in their march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
30 The lion which is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
31 The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king when his army is with him.

32 If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.
33 For the churning of milk produces butter,
And pressing the nose brings forth blood;
So the churning of anger produces strife.

Proverbs 31

The Words of Lemuel

31 The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:

What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

Description of a Worthy Woman

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

August 22 – OT Reading

1 Kings 10-11

 

1 Kings 10

The Queen of Sheba

10 Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with difficult questions. So she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from the king which he did not explain to her. When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her. Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard. How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom. Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.” 10 She gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and a very great amount of spices and precious stones. Never again did such abundance of spices come in as that which the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon.

11 Also the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir a very great number of almug trees and precious stones. 12 The king made of the almug trees supports for the house of the Lord and for the king’s house, also lyres and harps for the singers; such almug trees have not come in again nor have they been seen to this day.

13 King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire which she requested, besides what he gave her according to his royal bounty. Then she turned and went to her own land together with her servants.

Wealth, Splendor and Wisdom

14 Now the weight of gold which came in to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, 15 besides that from the traders and the wares of the merchants and all the kings of the Arabs and the governors of the country. 16 King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold, using 600 shekels of gold on each large shield. 17 He made 300 shields of beaten gold, using three minas of gold on each shield, and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. 18 Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with refined gold. 19 There were six steps to the throne and a round top to the throne at its rear, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. 20 Twelve lions were standing there on the six steps on the one side and on the other; nothing like it was made for any other kingdom. 21 All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None was of silver; it was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. 22 For the king had at sea the ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks.

23 So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 24 All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. 25 They brought every man his gift, articles of silver and gold, garments, weapons, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year.

26 Now Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; and he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland. 28 Also Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king’s merchants procured them from Kue for a price. 29 A chariot was imported from Egypt for 600 shekels of silver, and a horse for 150; and by the same means they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and to the kings of the Arameans.

1 Kings 11

Solomon Turns from God

11 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord had commanded. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. 12 Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”

God Raises Adversaries

14 Then the Lord raised up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of the royal line in Edom. 15 For it came about, when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army had gone up to bury the slain, and had struck down every male in Edom 16 (for Joab and all Israel stayed there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom), 17 that Hadad fled to Egypt, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him, while Hadad was a young boy. 18 They arose from Midian and came to Paran; and they took men with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house and assigned him food and gave him land. 19 Now Hadad found great favor before Pharaoh, so that he gave him in marriage the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen. 20 The sister of Tahpenes bore his son Genubath, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house; and Genubath was in Pharaoh’s house among the sons of Pharaoh. 21 But when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers and that Joab the commander of the army was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, “Send me away, that I may go to my own country.” 22 Then Pharaoh said to him, “But what have you lacked with me, that behold, you are seeking to go to your own country?” And he answered, “Nothing; nevertheless you must surely let me go.”

23 God also raised up another adversary to him, Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah. 24 He gathered men to himself and became leader of a marauding band, after David slew them of Zobah; and they went to Damascus and stayed there, and reigned in Damascus. 25 So he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, along with the evil that Hadad did; and he abhorred Israel and reigned over Aram.

26 Then Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, also rebelled against the king. 27 Now this was the reason why he rebelled against the king: Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the breach of the city of his father David. 28 Now the man Jeroboam was a valiant warrior, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious, he appointed him over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. 29 It came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clothed himself with a new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field. 30 Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 He said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes 32 (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel), 33 because they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did. 34 Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; 35 but I will take the kingdom from his son’s hand and give it to you, even ten tribes. 36 But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name. 37 I will take you, and you shall reign over whatever you desire, and you shall be king over Israel. 38 Then it will be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by observing My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39 Thus I will afflict the descendants of David for this, but not always.’” 40 Solomon sought therefore to put Jeroboam to death; but Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt to Shishak king of Egypt, and he was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

The Death of Solomon

41 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon and whatever he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? 42 Thus the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 43 And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David, and his son Rehoboam reigned in his place.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

A Matter of the Heart

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Today, we conclude with our series of blogs regarding the life of King Solomon.  Focusing on the question – how did Solomon lose his way?

Philip Ryken puts it like this – “the gifts of God never operate independently or automatically, but always according to the affection of our hearts.”

I am reminded that our talents and gifting can only be used for the kingdom of God when we are committed to His glory and not our own.

When our hearts turn from God, our gifts can be used to actually tear down His work instead of building it up.

In the beginning, Solomon’s heart appears to be in the right place. When Solomon asks for wisdom and an understanding heart in I Kings 3, his motivation was to rule the people well.

Even though he ruled his people well, Solomon’s lost path was a series of decisions made one at a time, step by step. It is a lifetime of choices that took him down the path.

By the time we get to 1 Kings 11, we are told in verses 1-3, “Solomon loved many foreign women”, “Solomon clung to these in love”, and “his wives turned away his heart”. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

The chapter goes on to say his wives turned away his heart toward other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God.

Somewhere along the way, Solomon lost his first love – his love for the Lord.

A sobering thought for all of us in ministry or service is the reminder that the gifts God has given us never operate independently or automatically, – they always work “according to the affection of our hearts.”

Our gifting and talents can be useful for the building up of the kingdom, but only to the extent that our hearts are committed to His glory.

Solomon’s story became a tragedy because his heart loved other things more than the living God. He did love God, it seems to a certain extent, but he had a deeply divided heart that also loved too many women and worshiped too many gods.

When our hearts turn away from God, our spiritual gifts will not prevent us from falling into grievous sin.

Mastering theology, serving the poor, giving to Christian work, teaching and serving at the church, —none of these gifts will protect us from spiritual failure if we love the world or love ourselves more than we love God.

Apart from the grace of God and the work of his Spirit, we could very well end up doing something evil that tears down everything we have built, as Solomon did.

People always seem surprised when well-known Christians fall into sin. Perhaps this is because they have been looking at their gifts rather than their hearts. But the heart is the most important thing of all.

When Solomon’s heart turned away from God, even his wisdom turned into folly.

Until next time… Keep reading!

Jim

Sources used for this blog: ESV Bible, NASB Bible, and excerpts were taken directly from the book – 1 Kings by Philip Ryken.

August 21 – OT Reading

Ecclesiastes 7-12

Ecclesiastes 7

Wisdom and Folly Contrasted

A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man
Than for one to listen to the song of fools.
For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.
For oppression makes a wise man mad,
And a bribe corrupts the heart.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.
Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.
11 Wisdom along with an inheritance is good
And an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For wisdom is protection just as money is protection,
But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.
13 Consider the work of God,
For who is able to straighten what He has bent?
14 In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.

15 I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. 16 Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? 17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.

19 Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. 21 Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. 22 For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.

23 I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it? 25 I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness. 26 And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.

27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, 28 which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. 29 Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”

Ecclesiastes 8

Obey Rulers

Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam.

I say, “Keep the command of the king because of the oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave him. Do not join in an evil matter, for he will do whatever he pleases.” Since the word of the king is authoritative, who will say to him, “What are you doing?”

He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him. If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen? No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it. All this I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been done under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his hurt.

10 So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out from the holy place, and they are soon forgotten in the city where they did thus. This too is futility. 11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. 12 Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. 13 But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.

14 There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility. 15 So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

16 When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night), 17 and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.

Ecclesiastes 9

Men Are in the Hand of God

For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God. Man does not know whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.

It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner; as the swearer is, so is the one who is afraid to swear. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead. For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.

11 I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all. 12 Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them.

13 Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me. 14 There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. 15 But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. 17 The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Ecclesiastes 10

A Little Foolishness

10 Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool. If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like an error which goes forth from the ruler— folly is set in many exalted places while rich men sit in humble places. I have seen slaves riding on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.

He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them. 10 If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. 11 If the serpent bites before being charmed, there is no profit for the charmer. 12 Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; 13 the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness. 14 Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him? 15 The toil of a fool so wearies him that he does not even know how to go to a city. 16 Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. 17 Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for strength and not for drunkenness. 18 Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks. 19 Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything. 20 Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.

Ecclesiastes 11

Cast Your Bread on the Waters

11 Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies. He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.

Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.

The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility.

Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. 10 So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.

Ecclesiastes 12

Remember God in Your Youth

12 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”

Purpose of the Preacher

In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.

11 The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.

13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

August 20 – OT Reading

Ecclesiastes 1-6

Ecclesiastes 1

The Futility of All Endeavor

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.
Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hastening to its place it rises there again.
Blowing toward the south,
Then turning toward the north,
The wind continues swirling along;
And on its circular courses the wind returns.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
There they flow again.
All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.
11 There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come later still.

The Futility of Wisdom

12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

Ecclesiastes 2

The Futility of Pleasure and Possessions

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives. I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men—many concubines.

Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. 10 All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. 11 Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

Wisdom Excels Folly

12 So I turned to consider wisdom, madness and folly; for what will the man do who will come after the king except what has already been done? 13 And I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. 14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. 15 Then I said to myself, “As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?” So I said to myself, “This too is vanity.” 16 For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die! 17 So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.

The Futility of Labor

18 Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. 20 Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. 21 When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil. 22 For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.

24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? 26 For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.

God Set Eternity in the Heart of Man

11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. 15 That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.

16 Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. 17 I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there. 18 I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.” 19 For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. 21 Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? 22 I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?

Ecclesiastes 4

The Evils of Oppression

Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

13 A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14 For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16 There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 5

Your Attitude Toward God

Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.

When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.

If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them. After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land.

The Folly of Riches

10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. 11 When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? 12 The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.

13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt. 14 When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him. 15 As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil—exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind? 17 Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger.

18 Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. 19 Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.

Ecclesiastes 6

The Futility of Life

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men— a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, “Better the miscarriage than he, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he. Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not enjoy good things—do not all go to one place?”

All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied. For what advantage does the wise man have over the fool? What advantage does the poor man have, knowing how to walk before the living? What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.

10 Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with him who is stronger than he is. 11 For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a man? 12 For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

August 19 – OT Reading

Proverbs 27-29

 

Proverbs 27

Warnings and Instructions

27 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
A stone is heavy and the sand weighty,
But the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them.
Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood,
But who can stand before jealousy?
Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
A sated man loathes honey,
But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.
Like a bird that wanders from her nest,
So is a man who wanders from his home.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.
10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,
And do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity;
Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
That I may reply to him who reproaches me.
12 A prudent man sees evil and hides himself,
The naive proceed and pay the penalty.
13 Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger;
And for an adulterous woman hold him in pledge.
14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning,
It will be reckoned a curse to him.
15 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain
And a contentious woman are alike;
16 He who would restrain her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand.
17 Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.
18 He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit,
And he who cares for his master will be honored.
19 As in water face reflects face,
So the heart of man reflects man.
20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.
21 The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And each is tested by the praise accorded him.
22 Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

23 Know well the condition of your flocks,
And pay attention to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
25 When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,
26 The lambs will be for your clothing,
And the goats will bring the price of a field,
27 And there will be goats’ milk enough for your food,
For the food of your household,
And sustenance for your maidens.

Proverbs 28

Warnings and Instructions

28 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing,
But the righteous are bold as a lion.
By the transgression of a land many are its princes,
But by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.
A poor man who oppresses the lowly
Is like a driving rain which leaves no food.
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
But those who keep the law strive with them.
Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the Lord understand all things.
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than he who is crooked though he be rich.
He who keeps the law is a discerning son,
But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.
He who increases his wealth by interest and usury
Gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor.
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.
10 He who leads the upright astray in an evil way
Will himself fall into his own pit,
But the blameless will inherit good.
11 The rich man is wise in his own eyes,
But the poor who has understanding sees through him.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.
13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
14 How blessed is the man who fears always,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
15 Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear
Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,
But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
17 A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood
Will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him.
18 He who walks blamelessly will be delivered,
But he who is crooked will fall all at once.
19 He who tills his land will have plenty of food,
But he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.
20 A faithful man will abound with blessings,
But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good,
Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.
22 A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth
And does not know that want will come upon him.
23 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
Than he who flatters with the tongue.
24 He who robs his father or his mother
And says, “It is not a transgression,”
Is the companion of a man who destroys.
25 An arrogant man stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.
26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered.
27 He who gives to the poor will never want,
But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.
28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves;
But when they perish, the righteous increase.

Proverbs 29

Warnings and Instructions

29 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
But when a wicked man rules, people groan.
A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth.
The king gives stability to the land by justice,
But a man who takes bribes overthrows it.
A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.
By transgression an evil man is ensnared,
But the righteous sings and rejoices.
The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor,
The wicked does not understand such concern.
Scorners set a city aflame,
But wise men turn away anger.
When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man,
The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.
10 Men of bloodshed hate the blameless,
But the upright are concerned for his life.
11 A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back.
12 If a ruler pays attention to falsehood,
All his ministers become wicked.
13 The poor man and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives light to the eyes of both.
14 If a king judges the poor with truth,
His throne will be established forever.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases;
But the righteous will see their fall.
17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.
18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
But happy is he who keeps the law.
19 A slave will not be instructed by words alone;
For though he understands, there will be no response.
20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
21 He who pampers his slave from childhood
Will in the end find him to be a son.
22 An angry man stirs up strife,
And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
23 A man’s pride will bring him low,
But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
24 He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life;
He hears the oath but tells nothing.
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.
26 Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the Lord.
27 An unjust man is abominable to the righteous,
And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)