April 13, 2016
Proverbs and Ecclesiastes
Have you ever said “I believe every word of the Bible?” Okay, you better buckle your seatbelt for this! Did you know that the book of Ecclesiastes was never written to be true, but to demonstrate what happens when Solomon, the wisest man on earth lost relationship with his God? That’s right! The book of Proverbs was Solomon’s greatest contribution to mankind. It was written to reveal to us the wisdom of a man in right relationship with God. But Ecclesiastes is the thoughts of the wisest man in the world, after he lost relationship with God.
Let’s sample a few verses in Ecclesiastes and see if you can perceive a major core value flaw in the aged King’s thinking. Here are a few verses to ponder. Let me give you one hint; the word “vanity” is the Hebrew word “hebel.” It means emptiness, fraud, delusion, futility or worthless.
The foolish King said, ”The same fate befalls the wise man and the fool so why be wise.”But in the Book of Proverbs, Solomon wrote that “wisdom is better than gold,” and “we should do everything in our power to get wisdom” (Proverbs 16:16 & 23:23).
I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. 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. 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.” (Ecclesiastes 2:13-15).
Notice in the verses below that Solomon thinks leaving a legacy to your kids is “vanity”. Yet in the Book of Proverbs he wrote, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…” (Proverbs 13:22).
“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. For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23).
This next one should rattle your cage. This verse could be one of the main core values of evolutionists, except it’s not true! We were made in the image and likeness of God, and unlike animals, God breathed His very Spirit into us (Genesis 1:26 & 2:7).
“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” (Ecclesiastes 3:19).
You probably guessed it by now, but the common premise in these verses above and the main theme of the book of Ecclesiastes is that everything is “vanity.” Although Solomon maintained the gift of wisdom throughout his life, his broken relationship with God and his pursuit of false idols vexed his soul. His days, which were once full of life because of his relationship with God, were now meaningless. Depression overtook Solomon’s wisdom and his words became a complex mixture of right and wrong.
So in one breath King Solomon would pen a profound truth like…
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 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. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
And in the next breath, the old King would write something dumb like… Don’t be too righteous or too wicked…the one who fears God hangs on to them both! What the heck is Solomon talking about? Check it out:
Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 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” (Ecclesiastes 7:16-18).
Money is the answer to everything?
Look at this one! Money is the answer to everything. Really?
“People prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything”(Ecclesiastes 10:19).
Whatever happened to the wise words the King proclaimed in the years he walked with God?
“Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens” (Proverbs 23:4).
The Heart of God
Okay, Kris, how do you know that these aren’t simply contrasting verses? That’s a great question! I am glad you asked. Contrasting verses must both be true (at the very least) in a certain context or specific situation. But much of what Solomon wrote (not everything) in the book of Ecclesiastes is never true no matter what the circumstances are or the context is! Life in God is never vanity. It’s never okay to be a little bit wicked. Money is never the answer to all things. The fate of animals and the fate of people are not ever the same. You get the point! Reading the Bible without knowing the heart of God and being guided by the Holy Spirit can lead to deception, bondage and even death.
For more on this subject, check out my book Fashioned to Reign.
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Topics: All TopicsInspiration