God gave Solomon a gift. It’s recorded in I Kings 3:7-13. Solomon begins, “And now, O Lord my God…” Solomon is a child when he replaces David as King of Israel. He asks God for an understanding heart with which to judge the people. God is so impressed that he responds by giving him a wise and understanding heart. Not just any old wise and understanding heart but one that would be like no other’s either before or after him. Solomon belongs to a party of one. That’s why it matters what he says.
Solomon knows a lot. We can gain from him by learning from his experiences. Some will tell you that experience is a better teacher. There is a modicum of truth in that; but who wants to touch a hot stove to see if you’ll get burnt? Wouldn’t it be better if you learned from someone else’s experience? That’s what the Bible does for us. We learn from others before us.
Solomon is credited with three books of the Bible: Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is the one that is being covered in our current sermons. The first chapter opens with the Preacher stating that all is vanity (verse 2). It’s a discouraging statement followed with the passing of generations; one dying off and the other one taking over, the monotony of nature, and the seemingly relentlessness of everything.
Solomon goes on to say that he gave his heart to find the purpose of life. He also says he gave his heart to know wisdom, and to know madness (foolish or dangerous thinking) and folly (the Biblical definition is someone who lacks the proper fear or respect for God). One note, the Biblical definition may be what Solomon meant but he doesn’t come out and say it. Folly can also mean lack of good sense.
What we do know is what Solomon’s conclusion was. Pastor Josh began this series with the ending first. We heard it in the sermon last week. It’s Ecclesiastes 12:13,14.
Opening words for Sunday’s sermon: “Experience is a pretty good teacher. Life gets in the way of how it ought to be or, that’s the notion we have when we’re young.” Right then I knew something was coming. Grabbing my pen, I set to scribbling every word I could. Pastor Josh gets that way. He likes to stir things up to see if we’re paying attention.
He said it would help our theology to start with what was at the end—the end is Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. The example was a Macro-Economics instructor at a university that is Southern Baptist. The question he posed to his class was, “What is the conclusion of the matter?” No one had a handy response so, Josh, who was at the time a young preacher, responded by saying, “Fear God and keep his commandments.” This was the opening of the sermon.
Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments.” Life and living, all the things that our lives are filled with. And when we get down to the end what is it that really counts? Is it the big house, the career, relationships, family, trips, etc., etc., etc.? Pastor Josh, with arms outstretched, “I’m just a dying man standing up here trying to tell dying people how to live.”
Sometimes Scripture is easy to understand but difficult to execute. The God-breathed scripture says ‘fear God and keep his commandments’. God is our boss. In real-life situations if the boss tells us to go do something, we do it (execute it, carry it out). This is our Boss (God) that says you need to do this, that it’s our duty to do it.
Why should we do it? Verse 14 says that when our life is finished every work; the good, the bad, and the secrets will be brought into judgment. There’s a time coming when e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g will be spread out before us to be judged. Imagine it, standing there looking up at the virtual reality screen and watching life play out before our eyes. The Holy Spirit is working overtime to get us to see our true duty. So is Pastor Josh.
Linda Johnson moved to Douglas County with her husband Tom 12 years ago after retiring from teaching. Following Tom's death in 2016, Linda began facilitating a grief support group called GriefShare through Sweden Church. She serves as the Sunday School teacher for our High School class. Her "Layman's Pen" articles are also published in the local paper, The Douglas County Herald.
Andrea is Pastor Joshua Strong's wife. She also serves Sweden Church as Church Secretary, website administrator, and Sunday School teacher to the Intermediate Class.