The Story:Rehoboam, anticipating his rise to power, is doubtless focusing on all the perks of royalty. He envisions a life of wealth, power, and ease, and, indeed, this is what awaits him, at least in part. What he cannot foresee, and probably isn’t dwelling on or even willing to consider, are the many trials and adversities that come with being ruler of a great nation. How shall a man keep a steady outlook and demeanor amid the changing vicissitudes of life? By rejoicing, come what may. For, since whatever comes to us comes from the hand of God, we can rejoice in Him, in His sovereignty and wisdom, and in the knowledge that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8.28). Don’t seek happiness and a sense of wellbeing in the blessings of each day. The want of those blessings will bring despair. Look not to the blessingsfor your joy, but to the Sourceof both blessings and trials. In Him is joy that never ceases nor fails (Ps. 16.11).
The Structure:The second half of Ecclesiastes 7 begins an inclusio. This means that the passage begins and ends in the same place, and everything in between is related to this keystone idea. Note the phrase, “God has appointed” in verse 14 and compare that with “God has made” in 29 (in the Hebrew both words are the same). Solomon begins the passage with the prospect of hope. We can know joy if we look to God in all things. He ends it with a sigh of disappointment: when we trust in our own schemes, turning away from the way God has “made” us, we make a shambles of life. Here in a nutshell is the conflict of worldviews that confronts every generation. Those who try to live apart from God, trapped in the snares of sin, will not be able to know the consistent joy of those who look steadfastly to the Lord through Jesus Christ. Good and bad, blessing and adversity will come to both; but only the believer can know consistency of joy in life, come what may.
How can you see the message of this inclusio played out in our nation today? Are we as believers doing everything we can to plead with our lost neighbors, as Solomon did with Rehoboam? Are you?
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 (2),” 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.