Daily Update #268

Pause: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him belongs eternal praise.  Psalm 111 : 10

Readings:  Ecclesiastes 8 : 1-8  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’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God.  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.  Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’
Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.  For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down with misery.
Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?  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.”

As we are seeing through these Reflections, the Book of Ecclesiastes has a great deal to say about wisdom, as does much of the Bible.  Of course, wisdom is not the same as knowledge; indeed, history is full of clever people who have acted unwisely at great cost to themselves or to others.  Thankfully, the reverse is true, and we are indeed grateful to those knowledgeable people who have used their knowledge wisely, to the benefit of others.  The scientists who have worked so hard to discover vaccines to combat Covid-19 readily come to mind at this time.  We all have a certain amount of knowledge, and if we are in any doubt about how to use that wisely we can, as Mike reminded us on Tuesday, put into practice the advice found in the letter of James, chapter 1 verse 5, and ask God to grant us wisdom.
An aside here!  In the first verse of our reading today the Teacher tells us that wisdom changes one’s outward appearance, obviously bringing peace within which can be seen by others.  Have I ever met a person whose wisdom shone out of them? I’m not sure, but I have certainly met people whose faith in God lit up their lives, quite literally brightening up their faces, and one thing the Teacher in this book tells us is that wisdom apart from God is meaningless.
So, two more thoughts from today’s reading.  Firstly, the Teacher tells his readers to obey the king’s command, because they have taken an oath before God.  We haven’t taken an oath before God to obey our Queen, but we are told in the New Testament to pray for those in authority, and although we may not agree with all that is done by our leaders, both national and local, we should still pray that they will seek, and follow, God’s will.  The Teacher then says don’t stand up for a bad cause; this is good teaching, after all there are plenty of good causes out there that we can support.
Secondly, the Teacher reminds us that no one knows the future; not one of us can predict what is to come.  Neither, as Mike reminded us on Tuesday, should we wallow in nostalgia, looking back to what we perhaps perceive as better times, if indeed they were better.  As Christians we have a life to live for the Lord here and now, witnessing to his love and goodness, sharing the love, joy, and peace that is ours through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.  Of course, we do need to make plans for the future; no doubt some of you reading this have already begun to plan for much-needed holidays, visits to families, etc.  These plans should not be our main focus though, important as they are; as the Teacher reminds us, not one of us knows how much time we have left, so let us use that time wisely, doing all we can through prayer, fellowship and Bible study, to grow more like Jesus every day.

A prayer:  Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Amen