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The Scriptorium

Patient Plodding

Ecclesiastes 7.8-10

8The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit
isbetter than the proud in spirit.
9Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.

10Do not say,
“Why were the former days better than these?”
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.

The Story:Again, Solomon tries to get his son to take the long view toward life, to work for a good ending to his life and not just a “big splash” beginning. Impatience is the bane of rulers, as of all people. Perhaps this is why the Scriptures so often counsel us to wait on the Lord and be content. The fool is the one who acts in haste and becomes angry when his immediate desires are not instantly gratified. It is not the part of wisdom always to be longing for “the good old days.” As Solomon has previously said, we must receive each day, and all it brings, as a gift from God and do the best we can to rejoice in His provision, looking toward the future realization of all the promises of God and living as those who hope to gain the full blessing of God. But such patience and contentment is not the way of fools.

The Structure:These three verses form another inclusio, a form of parallelism that begins and ends in the same place, though here more implicit than explicit, as in vv. 2-4. Here the beginning and ending are something like “look toward the future.” The middle part connects impatience with anger and warns the reader against both, for they are both manifestations of pride. Indeed, pride and anger are the very antithesis of patience, since they carry the suggestion that, somehow, the world revolves – or should revolve – around me. Pride is the ruler’s downfall – recall Solomon’s many references to himself and his achievements in chapter 2. The wise man will avoid it at all costs.

Do you ever experience impatience or anger? Can you see how these can be manifestations of a prideful spirit?

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, “Telling it Slant (1),” 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.
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