Be Careful What You Hear

Eccl. 7:21-22

Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:

 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

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Here is more practical, common sense counsel from The Preacher.

Because we have deceptive hearts, and we think we want to know everything that is said, we may even go so far as to eavesdrop on our employees. After all, shouldn’t we know everything that goes on in our own households, our own places of business? Don’t we have a right to know all that is said?

Solomon says that if we pay attention too closely, we’re going to hear that which will disturb, upset, or harm us in our spirits. We may hear our own employees cursing us!

I was curious about the word curse, wondering if it literally means using foul or profane language . It can. It can also carry a sense of despising, making light of, making of no value.

Do you really want to hear people speaking of you in those terms? What good would it do?

And Solomon then points out that we know in our hearts that we, ourselves, have spoken ill of others. We have been guilty of doing that which we hear others do. We have cursed people, whether with words or in our hearts. We are just as guilty as the employee who speaks against us. Or maybe not a servant; maybe some member of the family. How many times have we spoken ill of a spouse, a child, a brother or sister?

Don’t be quick to condemn others who may speak against you. You have probably spoken against them.

Wisdom is Better than Strength

Eccl. 7:19-20

Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.

 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

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Romans 3:10. “There is none righteous, no, not one.”

Romans 3:23. ” For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Consider: If it were possible for us to live a sin-free life, or by our good works cancel out our sin, then Jesus died in vain. It is His blood, shed willingly for us, that not only covers our sin, but cleanses us from our sin.

There is an idea out there that we should ignore the Old Testament now, because we live in the Age of Grace and the Law no longer applies. I completely disagree. The Old Testament points to Calvary; it teaches us about the nature of the human heart, the folly of sin, and the need for a Redeemer. And that’s just one of the benefits of studying the Old Testament. It is a sad day in Christianity when we believe it’s okay to just dsimiss two-thirds of God’s Word.

Looking back at the first verse in this passage, which reads much like Proverbs, we see Solomon’s declaration that physical strength doesn’t do as much good in defending a city as wisdom does. Wisdom makes the wise stronger. It may be necessary to go to war to defend one’s city, in that day, or a whole nation both then and today. Strong men are needed, but great wisdom is needed more.

Do Right!

Eccl. 7: 15-18.

All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?

 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.

Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?

Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?

It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.


This was a difficult passage for me. I chose to use both the KJV and the ESV (English Standard Version) to gain some clarity, but the most help was from a commentator I’ve come to appreciate. David Guzik offers this explanation of these four verses, which I have condensed and put into my own words:

Solomon complained that in his own empty life he has seen good men suffer and wicked men prosper, and it just isn’t fair.

Solomon rather cynically suggests that we be righteous, but not too righteous; be wise, wicked, or foolish–just don’t overdo it. He was suggesting that we do whatever works best, not going too far in any direction. I suppose he would have considered this to be a balanced way to live.

It is important that we remember Solomon’s perspective here was still that of living “under the sun,” from the human perspective. What he suggests here is actually a pragmatic approach: Do what gets you the best results. Don’t go too far, or people will think you are unbalanced. In v. 18, he seems to suddenly remember that God is actually in charge, and that we should keep that in mind.

It is a good thing to seek balance in our lives, but we must not forsake biblical righteousness in order to attain what seems to the world to be balanced. Think of the Apostle Paul. He was considered a fanatic, an unbalanced lunatic, by the world to which he ministered.

So was Jesus. After all, He spent most of His time with sinners, the poor, needy, sick, and forsaken. Not balanced at all.

I am reminded of a quote from Dr. Bob Jones, Sr, when he preached,  “Do rightDo rightDo right till the stars fallDo right.”

We learn what is right, and how to do it, from a consistent, faithful, humble study of God’s Word.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Moving

I had some memories stirred up yesterday. We stopped in on someone who is in the middle of a move, and suddenly all the years of moving were running like a movie in my head.

We’ve been in our present house for 25 years. That’s an incredible record. In our first 25 years of marriage, we moved nine times. Growing up, I’ve lost count of how often we moved. It was amazing that I got to do my three years of high school in one house, one school. Heavenly.

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I did become quite an expert at packing up a household, though. I’m organized by nature, and watching my mom handle all those moves taught me a lot about how to do it efficiently. It’s also a very good time to throw out things you found at the back of your closet and had forgotten you had 🙂

It’s also a time for reminiscing. Each apartment or house you live in becomes a part of your history. The place you lost your first tooth; where you first became determined to learn to play the piano; where your love of music began. The place where you learned to read, to roller skate, to swim, to play tetherball. The house you lived in when your first boyfriend called you after school because he was too shy to talk to you face to face 🙂

So many things that became an ongoing part of your life are connected with each place in which you live. So yes, the memories are still running like a movie in my head.

Also, I’ve been thinking about that final move we all make–the move into eternity. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was just a little girl. I know I’m on my way to heaven, not because I am good, but because He is good.

I won’t be packing up anything to take with me. All my treasures, like my dolls and my teapots, will be outclassed completely by what awaits in heaven. There’s nothing I’ve needed down here that I will still need up there.

What I will take with me is an excited heart to see Jesus. And I will take an intense curiosity about what heaven holds, and there will be an eternity to discover all that awaits us there.

Do you know Him? If you’re not sure, please leave a comment and I will be glad to correspond with you about how you can know the Savior.

We Can’t Correct God

Eccl. 7:13-14

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which He hath made crooked?

 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

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This is some of the wisest counsel in Ecclesiastes. Most of us take a lifetime to learn it, because we often seem to think we can just do it ourselves, and we don’t need any help. Well, maybe that’s not the way your mind works, but mine does. There’s a reason I was born on July 4, I guess. Independence has always been both a strength and a weakness of mine. I think Solomon could have easily spoken these words directly to me.

To paraphrase: We need to understand the place of man in contrast to the place of God. If we fight against Him, we’re going to lose. Accepting His sovereignty brings us to a peaceful acceptance with life under the sun. This is not to say we should be fatalistic about life, sighing and shrugging at the hard things that come our way. God has provided us with many resources for dealing with trouble, especially with the practical counsel from His Word. It is true that He is sovereign; His sovereignty, however, does not absolve us of responsibility to deal with the hard things in life.

Solomon’s counsel on how to put the good and the bad of life into perspective: “Accept the good and the not-so-good in life, and do the best you can.” As Solomon seems to be turning again to a sense of hopelessness, we have to remember his perspective: “Under the sun ,” or from man’s perspective. With the excellent advice he has given us here, he still maintains his rather negative outlook, a hopeless sense of vanity, or emptiness. Isn’t it interesting that we can know something is true, and yet continue to behave in a way that would make it seem as if we DON’T know what is true? When that happens, it is usually because we allow our feelings, our emotions, to get in the way of our common sense.

This is what happened to Solomon. His sadness overwhelmed his own good counsel, and he felt that everything was rigged; a man can’t know what is going to happen, nor can he figure out what will come later.

Money and Wisdom

Eccl. 7:11-12

Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.

 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

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According to Matthew Henry, one of my favorite commentators, money (an inheritance) is good for little without wisdom. I’m thinking of someone who has gained, perhaps, a small inheritance. Used wisely and invested well, that money can become a fortune. But, spent in haste on unnecessary things, it is soon gone and there is little to show for it. Where there is no wisdom, the money is actually not a blessing, but a stumbling block.

Or think of the commonly heard story of someone who has won a huge amount of money in the lottery; or perhaps someone who makes a million dollars or more in only one season as an athlete. Without wisdom, bankruptcy is sure to happen, as history shows us. It might be interesting to do some research on lottery winners who are bankrupt or even who have committed suicide; same with athletes who had no sense in their sudden wealth and fame and whose lifestyle has ruined their careers.

I have a lot of respect, by the way, for athletes who, suddenly wealthy, have shared that wealth in ways that have improved the lives of others. Money plus wisdom.

Wisdom can be like a strong rock of defense; it can shelter and protect. Money can also be used as a defense against many of the ills of this world “under the sun” (from man’s perspective). When you put them together wisely, you have a very good thing. Wisdom, however, is the better thing, because without wisdom, money can be a burden rather than a blessing.

Anger and Complaining

Eccl. 7 :9-10

Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

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We are not to allow ourselves to be quick to anger. People whose only instant response to a given situation is anger, according to God, are fools.

Temper is a terrible master. When an angry temper controls one’s spirit, there is no room for contemplation; no room for kindness, no room for a soft answer. An angry person is controlled by that swift, explosive response that showers shards of hurtful words, and sometimes physical violence.

We’re seeing a lot of anger in our country right now. Some people are stirring up others with angry words and actions, hoping to force others either to change their minds, or to just be quiet and move out of the way for a style of government that has failed over and over again and undermines the spirit of freedom that is uniquely ours.

No good will come of such angry behavior. Debate based on reason and history is a thing of the past. It is very sad for me to see so much anger and hatred in my country.

The only antidote I know of for anger is forgiveness. And that’s a whole different conversation. You can go here to read what I’ve written about forgiveness over the years. Scroll all the way to the bottom and read up.

Verse 10 warns us against the folly of wishing we were back in “the good old days.” Granted, we can have memories of times that were gentler and carried less fear. However, Solomon says it is not wise to dwell on these things.

The truth is, the heart of man does not change from one age to another. Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are deceitful and wicked beyond any hope of change, and that we can’t even begin to know our own propensity for wickedness.

It is also true that God does not change. He is from age to age the same (Psalm 90:2). If He is always the same, then the trouble must lie with us. Perhaps a different age seems like it was better because we simply are not seeing the blessings we enjoy every day that we live.

We can talk ourselves into a terrible frame of mind wondering why things can’t be like they used to be. It’s a waste of time and energy, and those who live in the past in their thinking are simply not wise.