Friday, December 16, 2011

Ecclesiastes 8 - Evil in the World and Joy in the Journey

LINK: Ecclesiastes 8

BACKGROUND

As Solomon continued to praise wisdom, he purported that a wise person knows how to act with graciousness. In 8:1-9, he is saying that one should recognize the absolute authority of a king and the need for wisdom in averting a king's wrath in order to avoid harm. (This is wise advice considering what we have learned about kings in our Bible reading!)

In 8:10-17, he also tackled the issue of why there is evil in the world. He lamented that wicked people often go unpunished which leads to even more wrongdoing. Solomon believed in the "doctrine of divine retribution" (people eventually are punished for evil) and that God-fearing people are better off than the wicked; but he had seen the wicked getting what the righteous deserved and vice versa. He saw this as perplexing or meaningless.

Despite this contradiction, he offered the same advice he offered in 2:24-26; 3:12-13, and 5:18-19: eat and drink and enjoy life! He is not recommending hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure for pleasures sake). Rather, he is recommending submission to God. We cannot control when God allows adversity or prosperity. We cannot have all our questions answered or comprehend all of His mysterious ways, but we can receive the good things in life as gifts from His hand and fully experience the joy they bring as we walk by faith and trust that He is in control of all the unanswered questions.

REFLECTION 

As I typed this post, my favorite song in the whole wide world kept going through my head. I want it sung at my memorial service.

I hope you can see how this song relates to this chapter. It sums up how Solomon proposes we live: WITH JOY! There is joy in this journey of life despite the mysteries and questions and incomprehensibility of our big God and evil in the world. I don't even know if you will see the connection between Ecclesiastes 8 and this song, but God is leading me to put it here. So, I will! I pray it blesses you like it did me tonight.

APPLICATION AND PRAYER

This is a beautiful YouTube video clip. Light some candles and meditate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfW61yKyirY

Joy in the Journey
by Michael Card

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
and freedom for those who obey.

And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless
and sight for the blind.

To all who've been born of the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in time
and are weary of struggling with sin.

Forget not the hope that's before you
and never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness
when you were lost.

'Cause There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
and freedom for those who obey
and freedom for those who obey.

Wishing you freedom and joy this day . . . Carol
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