Ecclesiastes 6 (6)
Pray Psalm 4.1.
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
Read Ecclesiastes 6.10, 11.
1. How is it that things are “named already”?
2. How is increasing in vanity a form of contending with God?
The first part of verse 10 is better translated, “Whatever something is, it has been named already.” Everything that exists, Solomon insists, has its unique nature and purpose before it comes to be. This is because God is the Author of all existence; He alone gives things meaning and purpose, which is why everything has its proper place in the divine scheme of thing.
This includes man: man knows who he is – not an animal, but the image-bearer of God, created to know, love, and serve Him.
People also know that, in this life, it is futile to try to argue or fight with someone stronger than they – a subtle warning that there’s always a “faster draw” waiting for his opportunity for a showdown. But, beyond even that, knowing that people are made in the image of God, who can presume to stand against God’s purpose and will? Only the fool.
Notice how Solomon appeals to his son’s inherent knowledge about the world and its nature, and his own responsibility before God. He says there are many roads to vanity, but they don’t improve the human condition, or satisfy the needs of the soul (v. 11). Shouldn’t we rather look to “Him who is mightier” to guide us in making our way in life?
Solomon is not arguing with his son. He’s assuming that Rehoboam knows God, and knows that what he is saying is true. He’s hoping Rehoboam will recognize his own tendency toward folly and away from wisdom, and, like his father, make his way back “under heaven” soon.
Again, such an approach to answering the fool doesn’t guarantee he will be converted; salvation is of the Lord, not of men. Nevertheless, in order to give an unbelieving friend the best opportunity at seeing the truth, we need to know how to expose his vanities and pluck at his eternal heartstrings, hoping that something we might say, or some particular aspect of God’s truth, will strike a resonant chord in his soul.
1. Solomon insisted that, in God’s great redemptive design, He has a place for everything that exists. Why is this so? How should this encourage us in using everyday things and situations as part of our witness to the Lord?
2. The harder men try to make sense of things on their own, the more they increase in vanity. Why?
3. All people know God at some level, as both Solomon and Paul suggest. How should knowing this guide our attempts to explain God and His love?
Our life upon earth is to be reckoned by days. It is fleeting and uncertain, and with little in it to be fond of, or to be depended on. Let us return to God, trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ, and submit to his will. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6.7-12
Lord, I want to submit to You in every aspect of my life. Especially today, as I think about…
Pray Psalm 4.1-5.
Every day we are tempted to trust in things other than the Lord. How will you face this temptation today? What will you do to continue trusting in the Lord? He has “named” you for holiness (v. 3). What will you do today, to continue bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7.1)?
Sing Psalm 4.1-5.
Psalm 4.1-5 (Picardy: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent)
Answer when I call, Lord Jesus, God of all my righteousness!
Bend Your holy ear, relieve us from all terror, all distress!
Lord, receive our prayer, release us; send Your grace to save and bless!
Wicked men reproach and scorn us, loving what is vile and vain.
God with grace will shield and adorn us through the Savior’s blood and pain.
Jesus, You have bought and borne us; hear our cries for help again.
Let your anger flare, yet sin not; meditate, be still, and rest.
Turn your heart to God, begin not trusting in your righteousness.
Praise the Savior, all from sin bought; trust in Him to save and bless.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).