Showing posts with label Solomon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Solomon. Show all posts

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Solomon and Self-Control

Some men are called to govern others: “There is no authority except from God“, “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”

That does not mean God approves of all rulers or the decisions they make. He once elevated Pharaoh, a proud pagan tyrant, and then publicly humbled him. God said, “For this purpose I have raised you up … so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Solomon too was raised up by the Lord.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Guarding the Heart

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Solomon gave this instruction to a young son; that’s who it’s addressed to. It’s important for all of us to be guardians of our own hearts, to watch those things that influence us. It’s important for all of us, no matter how old we are and how far along the path of life.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Agnosticism and Folly

“Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

Solomon, wisest man of his day and the greatest king of Israel — at least by the world’s standard of measurement — talks about two alternatives we all face in life, picturing them by extended metaphor as a pair of women offering invitations.

On the surface there are similarities: both women are offering food of a sort to those who are simple, naïve or untaught, just as we all are when we come into the world.

But the similarities end there.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Mission Statement

I’ve never had much use for mission statements or five-year plans, though they are certainly an ongoing feature of modern business life. And perhaps in a business environment it makes sense to ask, “What is our purpose and how are we going to realize it?” The problem is that it is easy to formulate a lofty catchphrase that is entirely meaningless in the real world, isn’t it?
  • McDonalds’ mission statement is typical of such efforts to distill purpose into a single phrase: “McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.” Predictably bland and inoffensive.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

It Ain’t All About You Either

Continuing an overview of the Song of Songs that is more about what the book is not rather than what it is. I’m looking for ways to interpret a rather unusual portion of scripture that do not result in an excess of speculation. Such esoterica finds its way into public teaching more than it ought to.

Wednesday’s post looked at four more-or-less traditional interpretations of the book. Today’s explores a fifth.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Time and Chance (1)

Ecclesiastes is a difficult book. Still, in my early twenties I kept coming back to it despite its apparent bleakness — or perhaps because of it. Its relentlessly frank take on the unhappy business of living in a fallen world was (and remains) refreshing, not in comparison to the rest of scripture, I now realize, but set against the bland and near-insensate Churchian conformity of post-hippie ’70s evangelicalism in which I was inadvertently immersed as a teen, and which had regrettably permeated my understanding of most of the New Testament and deadened my enthusiasm for its truths.

Happily, nobody in that crowd taught Ecclesiastes the way they taught Ephesians. Perhaps they forgot it was there.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

It Ain’t All About Me

Let me start with a couple of quotes that intrigue me. They may even be true:

“All the Scriptures, indeed, are holy ... but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.”
— Rabbi Aqiba

“If a manuscript of this little book were found alone, detached from the biblical context and tradition, it undoubtedly would be viewed as secular. The book has no obvious religious content.”
— Dennis F. Kinlaw

While every part of scripture has given rise to some level of disagreement as to its meaning and value over the years, it would be difficult to find two such extreme statements about many other books of the Bible.

Of course Kinlaw doesn’t say the book has no religious content, but that such content is not obvious. And he’s right.

Perhaps so is Rabbi Aqiba.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (22)

The book of Proverbs was written almost three thousand years ago and preserves truth gathered well prior to that. It is genuinely ancient, and comes out of a cultural setting (or really, cultural settings, plural) with which we can only pretend to be even slightly familiar.

Thus, even if we study and research until the cows come home, we should not be the least bit surprised to find that there are occasional words and phrases in Proverbs that we just can’t parse properly. We can make educated guesses. We can eliminate ridiculous suggestions (of which there are more than a few). But in some cases we will have to content ourselves with being less than 100% sure what a particular word, phrase or sentence really means.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Apocrypha-lypso (5)

In 2017, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld published a work of fiction entitled Hitler in Hell, in which he speculates about what Adolf Hitler might have thought of things like the post-WWII development of Western society, the internet, feminism and the eternal destiny of dogs. In the same book, van Creveld also provides one of the most perceptive and comprehensive military overviews of WWII I have ever read.

It’s a clever device: packaging a truthful historic account in a form sure to be a good deal more widely read than a college textbook.

Who knows, maybe today’s candidate for biblical canonicity was written with similar aims in view.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (10)

One in three American children is currently growing up without a father in the home.

Fatherless children are four times more likely to live in poverty as those with a dad at home, twice as likely to die in infancy, twice as likely to struggle with their weight and twice as likely to drop out of high school. Fatherless girls are seven times more likely to become pregnant as a teen. And while the actual numbers are hotly debated, it is evident having an absent father also correlates statistically with higher levels of criminality, incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse, behavioral problems and the likelihood of having been beaten up at home.

This is going on in a country with one of the best social safety nets in the world and with more money being directed toward the social problems exacerbated by fatherlessness than at any time in human history. Despite its deep pockets, the State is no substitute for a loving, involved father.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fatherhood Foreshadowed

How many times in your life have you started a prayer with the word “Father”?

For me it’s thousands upon thousands. Tens of thousands, perhaps. I can’t even begin to guess. In fact, it is fairly common for Christians to address God as their father, though I know many whose prayers customarily begin with “Dear God”, which, when you think about it, is a little perplexing.

How many of us think much about the fact that the family relationship with God into which we have been brought through faith in Jesus Christ is not only intimate but also unprecedented?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (2)

Just who is Solomon talking to in Proverbs anyway? Ever wondered?

“Well, that’s easy,” says the Bible student. “He’s talking to his son. Look at verse 8.”

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”

Now, the Bible student might well be right, but before we agree with him, let’s address the herd of elephants in the room.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

History Told Twice

Nothing too profound this morning.

I’ve been enjoying a book on the gospel of Luke (see an earlier post) that draws attention to the differences between the gospel records. Not those pesky “apparent contradictions”, but just differences in content and presentation.

Each inspired record of the life of Christ has its own theme or themes. (In other news, water is wet.)

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Man Without A Clue

To call Agur a bit of an obscure Old Testament character would not be out of line.

The first twenty-nine chapters of the book of Proverbs set out the compiled wisdom of Solomon. Obviously not all of it; we’re told he wrote 3,000 proverbs and an additional 1,005 songs, so this is the tip of a large iceberg. It’s a pretty impressive resume by any standard.

Agur son of Jakeh, on the other hand, rates a mere 33 verses, most of which he gives over to the making of lists: “Here are four things that are small but wise …”, “Here are three things that shake the earth …”, “Here are three things that are very stately …” and so on.

While it is certainly the inspired word of God, I’m not sure the average observation attributed to Agur stacks up with those of the great king of Israel.

I will tell you this though: he had a few good lines in him.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

One Touch Away

We live in a day of distraction, when every tiny, struggling spiritual impulse in our hearts and heads has to hack its way through a jungle of psychic noise just to hear the still, small voice of God. Difficult, I know. But there’s tremendous reward for the effort.

And, hey, few people today have to travel for days just to hear the word of God.

Others throughout history have had a much harder time of it. For us, the truth is one touch away.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Meaning of Life in Three Rounds

On paper, the apostle Paul vs. Solomon, king of Israel doesn’t add up to much of a fight.

If you get them both in their primes, Solomon has world class trainers and equipment and the most lavish possible facilities in which to prepare, along with all the wisdom in the world with which to strategize.

Paul, on the other hand, is almost guaranteed to be convalescing after any or all of a recent stoning, beating or flailing, as well as taking his regular buffeting from a messenger of Satan. There’s also an off chance he has not eaten recently or that he’ll miss a scheduled bout because he’s serving a jail sentence or pulling a Robinson Crusoe somewhere in the Mediterranean.

In short, on the physical plane Paul is a pushover (though he does have a disturbing tendency to beat a ten count when his opponents are sure he’s done and dusted).

On the spiritual plane, though, Solomon is fighting with both hands tied behind his back.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Inside Scoop

Those in the news business are forever occupied with beating one another to a story. Old media or new, success is measured in the ability to get the inside scoop.

God, on the other hand, is not in the business of broadcasting his secrets. Communicating is something in which he takes great pleasure, but not something he does casually. His truth is for those who value it and understand its worth, not for those who dismiss or trivialize it.

The value of God’s word is one of its repeated themes.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Focus On Tomorrow

In modern cultures, usually not much goes into a name. Names aren’t often chosen for their profundity. For example, Bernie means “bold as a bear”. Does that reflect my character fully? If you ask those who know me best as an adult, it probably doesn’t.

However, very often in the Bible there is additional depth to a name. Matthew 16 is a common enough example that has drawn the interest of theologians for generations; what did Peter’s naming really signify? But there are many other famous examples that are less controversial; Saul became Paul, Abram became Abraham and so on.

In each case there was a reason that someone’s name was changed and that reason is worth exploring.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It Ain’t All About You Either

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It Ain’t All About Me

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Meaning of Life in Three Rounds

A more current version of this post is available here.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

A Man Without A Clue

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Big Government, Micro-Regulation and Morality

In a 2012 article for National Review entitled “The Perversion of Rights”, Mark Steyn laments the age of micro-regulation:
“That’s the real ‘hot topic’ here — whether a majority of citizens, in America as elsewhere in the West, is willing to ‘leave it up to the government’ to make decisions on everything that matters. On the face of it, the choice between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church should not be a tough one. On the one hand, we have the plain language of the First Amendment as stated in the U.S. Constitution since 1791: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’

On the other, we have a regulation invented by executive order under the vast powers given to Kathleen Sebelius under a 2,500-page catalogue of statist enforcement passed into law by a government party that didn’t even bother to read it.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Abomination x 3

In case anyone doubts the relevance of the Old Testament thousands of years after it was written, The Wall Street Journal comments on the implementation of the (un)Affordable Care Act:
“… there have been so many unilateral executive waivers and delays that ObamaCare must be unrecognizable to its drafters, to the extent they ever knew what the law contained.”
as does Solomon, son of David:
“Unequal weights and unequal measures
    are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”
(Proverbs 20:10)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Breaking the Spirit

“No one gives up on something until it turns on them, whether or not that thing is real or unreal.”
― Thomas Ligotti
Ligotti’s statement may or may not be true, but there is something to be said for people who live consistently.

Those who have become disillusioned by Christians are among the most intensely disillusioned people I have ever met. They are the hardest to reach, the hardest to talk to about my faith, the most difficult to even know where to begin with.

How do you initiate any kind of dialogue with those who believe they have already taken the measure of your faith and found it wanting?

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Agnosticism and Folly

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mission Statement

The most recent version of this post is available here.