Searching for treasure

Job Sees The Light - Twenty-ninth in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

In Chapter 28 Job describes how man has found precious stones, ores and minerals by methods and labor, but he, a rancher and farmer by trade and truth seeker by temperament, has mined for wisdom.

Job 28:1-4 NIV He begins by reflecting on the pursuit of ‘gold diggers’. They explore and persevere, bearing light in dark places, to dig out and extract valuable metals and then to refine them.

Job 28:5-11 NIV Though the earth appears to be a field of grain, beneath it lie fiery treasures, sapphires to gold. Man by his intelligence and sweat carves out and dotes on what birds and beasts never see nor need.

Job 28:12-19 NIV Yet for all his mining sense and skill, man does not understand how or where to search for wisdom nor does he appreciate its importance. It is not found anywhere in the earth or sea, and cannot be purchased by gold and silver, though its worth is far more than any precious jewel, coral or pearl.

Job 28:20-27 NIV In these verses, Job speaks of wisdom that is hidden, that only God understands and can reveal.

Because of Job’s specific knowledge of crafts and natural wonders, some commentators have supposed Solomon to be the author of the book, however, Thomas Coke, one of the founders of the Methodist Church in the United States, wrote:

The sapphire was mentioned before, and, being itself a Hebrew word, there can be no doubt about the meaning of it; but for the other words, whether we translate them rightly is a controverted point among the learned; and the obscurity of the text in this, as well as in other places, affords no inconsiderable argument of the antiquity of the book. (ref)

Job saw the majesty of God but could not perceive that it testified to his wisdom in Christ; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting our sins against us (2 Cor 5:19). Even though this was established in the beginning, it was not yet in view. (1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:4)

Treasuring Christ is true wisdom that can prevent us from foolish seeking after gold and silver. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36)

Job knew only that fear of God and being upright were wisdom and understanding: emotion and action, attitude and practice, as then, so today.
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding.
(Job 28:27)

And with this Job suggests that his friends should have been satisfied, and not have pretended to dive into the secrets of God, and condemned him for a hypocrite, by misinterpreting the designs of Divine Providence. - ibid, Thomas Coke (1747-1814)

Job could not fathom what we today take for granted: Christ in us, our hope of glory, the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints (Col 1:26-27) Yet, if we take this for granted without cherishing it, then we have no fear of God and we do evil. We do not know as much as Job did millennia ago.

Be Goaded

Twenty-first and Final in the Solomon Series

This series of posts began with these words: O Solomon, Solomon, from the heights to the depths, and then back to a level place, but never again to the heights?

I believe Solomon did attain to great heights after his sinful exploits; that is, we will see him in heaven. Some who have studied his life have their doubts. However, God disciplines those whom He loves, and Solomon was disciplined. Also, we have the evidence of his repentance in the book of Ecclesiastes.

There are numerous studies that could be pursued to further explore Solomon's life and influence on Israel and to learn from his writings. In Ecclesiastes 10-12 you will find exhortations to greater diligence and soberness of spirit.

In Ecc 12:12, we read that…"because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, [and] set in order many proverbs." Does that suggest that some of the Proverbs were conceived after Solomon was chastised for his sinful harem? There are many verses in the book of Proverbs that warn against illicit relations. Pro 5:3-5 is one example: For the lips of a strange woman drop [as] an honeycomb, and her mouth [is] smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

Was Solomon stating what he learned first-hand? Only a Bible scholar with thorough knowledge of chronologies could answer this question.

We have looked at many Scriptures in this study of Solomon, but not at his Proverbs. How could we end a series on Solomon without reading some of these?

  • The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction. 1:7
  • Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 3:5, 6
  • My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth. 3:11,12
  • Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life. 4:23
  • These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. 6:16-19
  • He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. 13:24
  • In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. 14:26
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. 15:1
  • Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 16:18
  • The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. 18:10
  • A [good] name [is] rather to be chosen than great riches, [and] loving favour rather than silver and gold.22:1

These proverbs remind us of Solomon:

  • Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. 20:28
  • [It is] better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. 21:9
  • Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 22:6

Well, perhaps he will depart, but he will also return.

And finally, from Ecclesiastes 12:11, The words of the wise [are] as goads, and as nails fastened [by] the masters of assemblies, [which] are given from one shepherd.

Faith is the assurance

Eighteenth in the Solomon Series

Ecclesiastes, the twenty-first book of the Bible, is a book of wisdom and of heartfelt discouragement and reaching to higher planes where acceptance in Christ steadies and comforts.

The root word of Ecclesiastes is qahal (with long marks over the a's), meaning "assembly, company, congregation." The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible chose Ecclesiastes, or "a member of the assembly," because of the relation of qalal to ecclesia (assembly). The English rendering "Preacher" follows Jerome's Latin word for "speaker before an assembly." (from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press)

A. R. Fausset, a 19th century Irish theologian, stated in his commentary,

The Hebrew title is Koheleth, which the speaker in it applies to himself (Ecc 1:12), "I, Koheleth, was king over Israel." It means an Assembler or Convener of a meeting and a Preacher to such a meeting… The substitution of the title Koheleth for Solomon (that is, peace), may imply that, having troubled Israel, meantime he forfeited his name of peace (1Ki 11:14, 23 ); but now, having repented, he wishes to be henceforth a Preacher of righteousness."

Early in his address, Solomon observes: There is nothing new under the sun (Ec 1:9). He had been a man who looked into all matters under heaven, yet his great wisdom and seeking brought him grief and sorrow (vs 18). He tried pleasure, wine; he built houses and planted gardens, orchards and made pools for watering his orchards; he increased in servants and in cattle and gold; he brought in singers and instrumentalists for pleasure. (Ec 2:3-8)

Yet when he looked on all that his hands had made, he could see only vanity and feel only vexation. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? " (vs 15)

He saw that in certain matters he had not been wise, and his sorrow caused him to hate the work he had done (vs 18). God will give a good man wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he gives only increase that will be given to another (vs 26). What an aggravation!

There is a time for everything; a time to rend and and a time to sew; to plant, to pluck up; but what profit is there in anything? (3:9) Well, in its time God makes everything beautiful. (3:11) We cannot understand all that God has purposed; we should instead rejoice in the Lord and do good. (vs 12) Enjoy the fruit of your labor as God's gift. (vs 13)

God's works are from all eternity and He brings into focus what has been perpetrated for evil; we should fear him (vs 15). We are like the beasts (vs 19). In that generation, Christ had not yet been incarnated, nor had the Holy Spirit been given. Yet, there was wisdom; there was God's Word, and one could commune with it. Then, faith could be nurtured.

Solomon considered the tears of the oppressed, that they had no comforter (4:1); recalled how men envied (vs 4); how the man without a family labored for no one (vs 8), and that two are better than one, for they keep warm in bed and can withstand an enemy (vs 11).

But thinking of companions, Solomon then preached, "Better [is] a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished." (vs 13) Those born into his kingdom would become poor (vs 14).

When you are in God's house, listen to Him and let your words be few (5:1, 2); pay your vows (vs 4); fear God (vs 7); don't be impressed or troubled with those who oppress the poor and are unjust. God sees them (vs 8). The greedy rich have only the enjoyment of beholding their wealth; the sleep of a laborer is sweet — while the abundance of the rich will not let him sleep (vss 10-12).

And what about the man to whom God has given riches, wealth and honor, who cannot enjoy it, or the man with a hundred children and a long life who departs in darkness without proper burial? There is little difference in life between fools and wise men; but stop contending with Him who is mightier than we (6:1-10).

Indeed, "sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." (7:3) It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than the song of fools (vs 5): Better is the end of a thing than the beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud man (vs 8) or the angry one (vs 9).

Stop complaining (vs 10); neither be overly righteous or foolish or overly wicked (vss 16, 17)… We all sin (vs 20); we fail in our life's goals (vs 23); Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. (7:29)

In chapter 8, Solomon reminds the hearers to keep the king's commands and not to challenge his judgments, for God made him the king (8:2-5).

A ruler at times governs to his own hurt (vs 9). If justice is not swiftly served, it nevertheless works to the harm of the evildoer. He begins to think he will not be judged so he becomes more persistent in his sin (vs 11) and comes under greater judgment.

It does seem at times that the righteous are as much destroyed by the wicked as vice versa, and this is another "vanity" (vs 14).

Solomon pulled back from this thought; he thought instead to eat, drink and be merry (vs 15); man cannot fathom the inscrutable ways of God (vs 17). Don't entertain frustrations, doubts, anxieties; be at peace.

Our faith in God demonstrates that we believe even though we don't see or understand. There was a time when Solomon thought he did understand the depths of God's ways, but he was much younger then.

In Ecclesiastes, we see that Solomon has returned from the heights and depths to a level place.