The Scriptorium

If This, Then That

You have to think and live consequentially. Ecclesiastes 11.3, 4

Ecclesiastes 11 (2)

Pray Psalm 139.14.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Read Ecclesiastes 11.3, 4.

1. These proverbs are conditional – that is, they have an “if this, then that” structure. Explain.

2. What is Solomon trying to do with these proverbs?

Three more proverbs assault the here-and-now worldview of Rehoboam. Additional appeals to common sense, they are again designed to arrest his mindset of conspicuous consumption and lead him to think about the consequences of a life of folly.

These two verses are difficult, and commentators are all over the board trying to explain them. I take them as intending to encourage consequential rather than merely self-indulgent thinking and living.

Rehoboam could predict the rain probably as well as anyone. And that fallen tree would be in the same place tomorrow as yesterday, so there’s no need to harvest it as soon as it falls. Farmers don’t want their seeds to be scattered by the wind, and they know that harvesting is more difficult in the rain. “If you see this”, the formula goes, “then you can expect that”.

What about the young man to whom these verses were addressed? Could he see that this life of his was leading to certain consequences? If not, he should look more carefully.

We should not be discouraged by the blindness to truth that characterizes many in our day. While we are preaching repentance, faith, and renewal, they are pursuing indulgence, materialism, and experiments in moral disobedience that will harm them and the society in which they live.

It would be easy to give up on this unbelieving generation and our witness to them. But God has left us here in this nation, at this time, to work by every means and in every season in order that some might be saved (1 Cor. 9.19-23). Like Solomon, we need to stay the course of our calling to the bitter end, appealing to every witness, from creation and common sense as well as from the Scriptures, in the hope of talking some sense into our unbelieving contemporaries.

Only the Spirit can break through to renew the hearts of men. But He is pleased to use our words. Let us be pleased for Him to use them.

1. These proverbs are on the order of “if this, then that”. How can such examples help someone to see the folly of his ways?  

2. The Gospel is an “if this, then that” proposition as well. Explain.

3. These proverbs invite us to consider our ways and the consequences of our behavior. Why is this important for helping people to consider Jesus?

Let not much wisdom become a stumbling-block to your soul and a snare before you; but trusting in God, manfully make a beginning upon the way that is filled with blood, lest always you be found wanting and naked of knowledge of God.
Isaac of Nineveh (d. ca. 700), Ascetical Homilies 6

Help me to think about the consequences of my behavior, Lord, so that I always…

Pray Psalm 139.1-5.
God knows your path and all your ways. Commit them to Him, and thank Him for His guidance and protection.

Sing Psalm 139.1-5.
Psalm 139.1-5 (Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
You have searched me, Lord, and known me,
when I sit and when I rise;
From afar, my thoughts discerning,
all my path before You lies.
Every word, before it’s spoken,
You behold and know it well.
Both behind me and before me,
Your sweet presence I can tell!

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Ecclesiastes fit in the overall flow of Scripture? Our series of studies, God’s Covenant, can show you, and help you discover the great beauty of the unity and diversity of Scripture, and how it all points to Christ. To order your copy of this important workbook, click here.

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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).


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore