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The Scriptorium

Truth, but not Omniscience

We can know truly, but not perfectly.

Ecclesiastes 3.9-11
9What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

The Story: The question Solomon raises in verse 9 reaches back to chapter 2 in order to bring that experience – under the sun – into this one – under the heaven. He will answer his question at the end of this pericope, as we shall see tomorrow. Verse 10 reaches back to Ecclesiastes 1.13 and 14, but with an important twist. There Solomon launched into an “under the sun” section of his life. Here, as he states his theme, he is telling us where he has come out – “under the heaven.” Solomon certainly strayed from the path of wisdom; however, here he happily reports that, in his old age, he has returned. (“I have seen… v. 10). From the perspective of God, and of faith in Him, the world is latent with beauty, and men, who are made in the divine image (“eternity in their hearts”) are able to see and appreciate the beauty of life – all of life, even in those parts that might not make sense to us. When a man trusts in God, he doesn’t have to be able to figure everything out; he can rest in the One Who knows perfectly and trust in Him to do all things well. So if parts of the rest of Ecclesiastes seem incoherent or difficult to understand, we must not become agitated or anxious. Solomon tells us what he has observed, and counsels us to trust in God in all things.

The Structure: Ecclesiastes is not entirely random in its structure, even though, as we have said, it does not lend itself to logical outlining. We can see Solomon trying to keep his account together here and, by the various structural devices we have seen thus far, to make a connection between his son – where Solomon senses he may be – and where he longs for his son to end up. In the divine economy we don’t have to know all the answers to life’s conundrums. Still, we have the God-given task of learning as much as we can. We can expect to encounter many difficulties, trials, and challenges. We must certainly try to understand these, as far as we are able. However, in the end, we accept by faith that God knows all things, has a place and purpose for everything, and is able to accomplish His purpose through any situation. Our duty is simply to wait on Him and the wisdom He will give us in His own way and time.

How do you typically deal with the trials and difficulties you encounter each day? Is your approach more an “under the sun” or an “under heaven” approach? Explain.

Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Heart of the Matter: Ecclesiastes 3,” simply click here.

T. M. Moore

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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