The Scriptorium

Repent!

No more telling it slant. Ecclesiastes 11.10

Ecclesiastes 11 (7)

Pray Psalm 139.23, 24.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Read Ecclesiastes 11.10.
Review Ecclesiastes 11.

Prepare.
1. What does Solomon want Rehoboam to do?

2. Why does he want him to do this?

Meditate.
Suddenly – out of frustration or love? – Solomon blurts out his desire for Rehoboam. He needs to repent of his folly, as Solomon himself apparently had done, lay aside all those foolish and destructive ideas and practices, and think about the rest of his life and all of eternity, more than just the days of his youth.

This is about as “point blank” as Solomon gets in Ecclesiastes. His message is true for every age. We cannot live “under the sun” and “under heaven” at the same time. Solomon had tried that (Eccl. 2), and folly always prevails. We must forsake the one to embrace the other. The way of wisdom will not tolerate compromises with or accommodations of folly.

Many Christians today are trying to have the best of both worlds – God’s Kingdom and the ways of the flesh. Jesus warned against this (Matt. 6.24) and Paul said it’s oil and water (Gal. 5.16ff).

Yet we don’t hear much about repentance within the Christian community. We prefer to think of God as infinitely patient with us, willing to bear with our sins and selfish ways, like the loving father of the prodigal son. And so He is; but He also calls us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2.13), and to bring holiness to completion in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7.1).

We need to rediscover the way of repentance, so that we may avert the Lord’s discipline and press on to prove our citizenship in the Kingdom of God (2 Pet. 1.5-11).

Reflect.
1. What is repentance? What is its role in the life of faith?

2. How can we know when we have actually repented of some sin? How do we keep that sin from coming back?

3. What is our responsibility to one another for working out our salvation in fear and trembling?

Put sorrow far from your flesh and sadness from your thoughts, except only that for your sins you should be constant in sadness. Cease not from labor, not even though you are rich, for the slothful person gains manifold guilt by his idleness.
Ephrem the Syrian (306-373), Homily on Admonition and Repentance 15

Let there be no lingering sin in me, Lord. Show me my sins, and I will repent, so that…

Pray Psalm 139.1-24.
Thank God for His Presence with you, and for His constant care and provision. Listen as His Spirit searches you for any sins to confess. Repent and go forward in faith.

Sing Psalm 139.1-24.
Psalm 139.1-24 (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!

Just to know this is more wondrous
than my seeking soul can know.
From Your ever-present Spirit
there is nowhere I can go.
Whether high above the heaven
or below the earth in hell,
Even there Your hand shall lead me
and Your Right Hand hold me well!

Neither light nor dark conceals me;
day as night is with You, Lord!
All my inward parts You fashioned
by Your all-decreeing Word.
Praise the Lord, for You have made me;
all Your wondrous works I’ll tell!
All Your works declare Your glory,
and my soul knows this full well!

All my unformed frame You witnessed
when You destined all my days.
Precious to me, Lord, Your precepts;
all Your wondrous Word I praise.
More than sand, Your thoughts to me, Lord,
far too vast their sum for me!
When the morning breaks upon me,
in Your presence I shall be.

Let the wicked come to judgment –
flee from me, all who cause pain!
Lord, with malice they oppose You,
while Your Name they take in vain.
Shall I hate all those You hate, Lord,
all who rise against Your face?
Let them be my foes forever
who reject Your saving grace.

Search my heart, O Lord, and know me,
as You only, Lord, can do.
Test my thoughts and contemplations,
whether they be vain or true.
Let there be no sin in me, Lord,
nothing that Your Spirit grieves.
Lead me in the righteous way, Lord,
unto everlasting peace!

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