Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reflections on Hosea 4

 Hosea 04 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Israel, listen as the LORD accuses everyone in the land! No one is faithful or loyal or truly cares about God.
  2. Cursing, dishonesty, murder, robbery, unfaithfulness-- these happen all the time. Violence is everywhere.
  3. And so your land is a desert. Every living creature is dying-- people and wild animals, birds and fish.
  4. Don't accuse just anyone! Not everyone is at fault. My case is against you, the priests.
  5. You and the prophets will stumble day and night; I'll silence your mothers.
  6. You priests have rejected me, and my people are destroyed by refusing to obey. Now I'll reject you and forget your children, because you have forgotten my Law.
  7. By adding more of you priests, you multiply the number of people who sin. Now I'll change your pride into shame.
  8. You encourage others to sin, so you can stuff yourselves on their sin offerings.
  9. That's why I will punish the people for their deeds, just as I will punish you priests.
  10. Their food won't satisfy, and having sex at pagan shrines won't produce children. My people have rebelled
  11. and have been unfaithful to me, their LORD. My people, you are foolish because of too much pleasure and too much wine.
  12. You expect wooden idols and other objects of wood to give you advice. Lusting for sex at pagan shrines has made you unfaithful to me, your God.
  13. You offer sacrifices on mountaintops and hills, under oak trees, and wherever good shade is found. Your own daughters and daughters-in-law sell themselves for sex.
  14. But I won't punish them. You men are to blame, because you go to prostitutes and offer sacrifices with them at pagan shrines. Your own foolishness will lead to your ruin.
  15. Israel, you are unfaithful, but don't lead Judah to sin. Stop worshiping at Gilgal or at sinful Bethel. And quit making promises in my name-- the name of the living LORD.
  16. You are nothing more than a stubborn cow-- so stubborn that I, the LORD, cannot feed you like lambs in an open pasture.
  17. You people of Israel are charmed by idols. Leave them alone!
  18. You get drunk, then sleep with prostitutes; you would rather be vulgar than lead a decent life.
  19. And so you will be swept away in a whirlwind for sacrificing to idols.

God's message to Israel had been illustrated by Hosea's relationship with Gomer. Now the message turned to words with the format for the message in words following the outline of the illustration. The cycle seen through the illustration was the marriage of the couple, Hosea and Gomer, the establishment of a prosperous family in terms of children, Gomer's unfaithfulness through prostitution, Hosea buying Gomer back followed by a period of living together with no intimate relationship, and finally full restoration of the relationship.

The word message picks up this cycle at the point of Israel's unfaithfulness. Israel had already had a prosperous 'marriage' with God and then turned to prostitution with other gods. God was now laying before them their guilt. In this we see the inevitable results of turning away from God. Their lack of faithfulness to God resulted in a lack of faithfulness toward each other. A lack of truthfulness with God turned to untruthfulness with each other. From there they moved on to cursing (calling down a curse on another), murder, stealing, and adultery.

Sin impacts not only those who sin but everyone and everything around them. One of the results of Israel breaking her covenant with God was drought, and nothing escaped the drought, not the land, nor the people, guilty or not. Neither did the animals, birds, or fish escape the drought. All suffered.

Israel's guilt began with the priests who had not been faithful to teach and uphold the covenant. Because the priests willfully rejected knowledge of God's covenant with them and failed to teach the people, the people were destroyed. God was going to destroy their mother and forget their sons, thus eliminating their priestly line.

As the priests multiplied in number their sin increased. As their sin increased so did their appetite for transgressions, feeding on the sin of the people. Both priest and people would suffer the coming punishment. Both were guilty.

Israel would find that there was no satisfaction or prosperity in their sin. They would eat but not be satisfied and in their promiscuity they would not multiply.

Having delivered the message to Israel, Judah was then warned against acting as Israel. They were not to be obstinate or attached to idols as was Israel.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reflections on Hosea 3

 Hosea 03 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Once again the LORD spoke to me. And this time he said, "Hosea, fall in love with an unfaithful woman who has a lover. Do this to show that I love the people of Israel, even though they worship idols and enjoy the offering cakes made with fruit."
  2. So I paid fifteen pieces of silver and about ten bushels of grain for such a woman.
  3. Then I said, "Now you are mine! You will have to remain faithful to me, though it will be a long time before we sleep together."
  4. It will also be a long time before Israel has a king or before sacrifices are offered at the temple or before there is any way to get guidance from God.
  5. But later, Israel will turn back to the LORD their God and to David their king. At that time they will come to the LORD with fear and trembling, and he will be good to them.

After bearing three children to Hosea, Gomer left him and went into prostitution. This, of course, portrayed how Israel had left God after a prosperous relationship and prostituted herself to other gods. In 3:1, God instructed Hosea to show love to Gomer once again even though she had been unfaithful, portraying God's love for Israel though she had turned to other gods.

In showing love again to Gomer, Hosea was to buy her back from her prostitution, paying the price of a slave. In bringing her home, Hosea informed Gomer that she was to live with him without being promiscuous with another man and that he would act the same toward her. The meaning in the Hebrew is a bit unclear and is translated in a couple of ways. One way understands the meaning to be that they were to devote themselves only to each other. The other understands that they would abstain from sexual relations with each other for a prolong period of time.

Given the portrayal of Israel's unfaifulness to God, this later meaning may commend itself. Adding to this is the comment in verse 4 that Israel was to live many days "without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols." The meaning was that she would live in exile for a period without national identity and without any spiritual relationship with God or any another god. The thought conveyed is that after bringing Gomer home, Hosea and Gomer would live together for a period of time without Gomer having any adulterous relationships and without the two of them having any sexual relationship either.

What was to keep Gomer at home when she left before to go into prostitution? That is where the meaning of the slave price to buy her back seems to suggest that her initial relationship in coming back was like that of a slave. She was bound to Hosea as a slave would be bound. By having no sexual relationship they would not be as husband and wife in the beginning until he won back her love.

So also with Israel. She would go into exile where the people were bound as slaves without freedom to worship either other gods or the true God. But eventually the Israelites would realize what they had with God and would return to Him and be restored as would be the case with Gomer and Hosea.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reflections on Hosea 2

 Hosea 02 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. So let your brothers be called "My People" and your sisters be called "Shown Mercy."
  2. Accuse! Accuse your mother! She is no longer my wife, and now I, the LORD, am not her husband. Beg her to give up prostitution and stop being unfaithful,
  3. or I will strip her naked like the day she was born. I will make her barren like a desert, and she will die of thirst.
  4. You children are the result of her unfaithfulness, and I'll show you no pity.
  5. Your mother was unfaithful. She was disgraceful and said, "I'll run after my lovers. Everything comes from them-- my food and drink, my linen and wool, my olive oil and wine."
  6. I, the LORD, will build a fence of thorns to block her path.
  7. She will run after her lovers, but not catch them; she will search, but not find them. Then she will say, "I'll return to my first husband. Life was better then."
  8. She didn't know that her grain, wine, and olive oil were gifts from me, as were the gold and silver she used in worshiping Baal.
  9. So I'll hold back the harvest of grain and grapes. I'll take back my wool and my linen that cover her body.
  10. Then I'll strip her naked in the sight of her lovers. No one can rescue her.
  11. I'll stop Israel's celebrations-- no more New Moon Festivals, Sabbaths, or other feasts.
  12. She said, "My lovers gave me vineyards and fig trees as payment for sex." Now I, the LORD, will ruin her vineyards and fig trees; they will become clumps of weeds eaten by wild animals.
  13. I'll punish her for the days she worshiped Baal and burned incense to him. I'll punish her for the times she forgot about me and wore jewelry and rings to attract her lovers. I, the LORD, have spoken!
  14. Israel, I, the LORD, will lure you into the desert and speak gently to you.
  15. I will return your vineyards, and then Trouble Valley will become Hopeful Valley. You will say "Yes" to me as you did in your youth, when leaving Egypt.
  16. I promise that from that day on, you will call me your husband instead of your master.
  17. I will no longer even let you mention the names of those pagan gods that you called "Master."
  18. And I will agree to let you live in peace--you will no longer be attacked by wild animals and birds or by weapons of war.
  19. I will accept you as my wife forever, and instead of a bride price I will give you justice, fairness, love, kindness,
  20. and faithfulness. Then you will truly know who I am.
  21. I will command the sky to send rain on the earth,
  22. and it will produce grain, grapes, and olives in Jezreel Valley.
  23. I will scatter the seeds and show mercy to Lo-Ruhamah. I will say to Lo-Ammi, "You are my people," and they will answer, "You are our God."

The Israelites had just been told through Hosea that they were no longer God's people (1:9). But beginning with 1:10 and into 2:1, God's message through Hosea was that there will come a time when they will be restored and they will again be called "My People" and "Shown Mercy." That is sometime yet in the future. But for the present, in Hosea's day, Israel was like Hosea's wife Gomer who had, after the third child, left him and gone to prostitution. (2:2) It was Israel who had left God, not the other way around. God was now bringing formal accusation against the nation.

Though God was accusing Israel of unfaithfulness and saying that she was no longer His people, or as with Gomer, "She is no longer my wife," He was not divorcing His people. Verse 2 ends with a plea for Gomer (Israel) to return and stop being unfaithful. Gomer (Israel) was no longer acting as a wife. The relationship was broken. But she and Hosea were still married, and the covenant between God and Israel was still in effect though the relationship between them was broken.

Following the accusation of unfaithfulness Israel was then threatened with what would happen if she did not repent and turn back to the Lord. First she would be stripped naked and exposed for what she was. Next, she would become barren and desolate like a desert. Whereas God had made Israel prosperous and a land flowing with milk and honey when the nation was faithful, in her unfaithful state she would become the opposite.

The third threat was to disown the children of promiscuity. Israel's unfaithfulness would naturally be passed down through the children who would also be unfaithful, and God would show them no more compassion than He was now showing the nation. God describes further what He will do if Israel does not repent. She will be blocked from practicing her idolatry and she will find that life was better when she was faithful to God and will want to return to Him. These threats are only conditioned on Israel not repenting. If she does, the relationship with God is restored and the threats go away.

We miss the point if we do not recognize throughout Hosea, and all the other prophets, that repentance is the goal. If we read them and think, "What a hateful and vindictive God," we have not understood. It was God's love for Israel that was driving all of this. His desire for a relationship with her and the opportunity to bless her and prosper her. But He could not do this as long as she was following other gods.

The most damaging piece of Israel's attitude was to attribute her prosperity to Baal rather than to God who provided it. It was bad enough that she turned to worshiping idols after God had blessed her. But to attribute God's blessings to idols was too much. Then to take the things with which God had prospered her (grain, oil, gold, & silver) and offer them to the idol was over the top. If this was how she chose to use what God had given her, God would take it all away. She would have nothing and no one.

As God describes Israel's furture, it turns from desolation and desperation due to her unfaithfulness to God's restoration of her. Once she is desperate and ready to listen, God will speak tenderly to her and win her back. He will draw her away into the desert, away from all her distractions and speak encouraging words to her. Then Israel's relationship with God will be restored to the way it was when He first delivered her from Egypt. And God will once again prosper her.

At that time Israel will speak of God as her husband and not as Baal. There will no longer be any reference to idols on her lips. At that time God will give Israel peace, both with man and beast. Neither will anymore be hostile to the nation. God will receive her again as His bride, and in place of a bride price He will give her righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. The land will again flow with milk and honey.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reflections on Hosea 1

 Hosea 01 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. I am Hosea son of Beeri. When Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were the kings of Judah, and when Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel, the LORD spoke this message to me.
  2. The LORD said, "Hosea, Israel has betrayed me like an unfaithful wife. Marry such a woman and have children by her."
  3. So I married Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and we had a son.
  4. Then the LORD said, "Hosea, name your son Jezreel, because I will soon punish the descendants of King Jehu of Israel for the murders he committed in Jezreel Valley. I will destroy his kingdom,
  5. and in Jezreel Valley I will break the power of Israel."
  6. Later, Gomer had a daughter, and the LORD said, "Name her Lo-Ruhamah, because I will no longer have mercy and forgive Israel.
  7. But I am the LORD God of Judah, and I will have mercy and save Judah by my own power--not by wars and arrows or swords and cavalry."
  8. After Gomer had stopped nursing Lo-Ruhamah, she had another son.
  9. Then the LORD said, "Name him Lo-Ammi, because these people are not mine, and I am not their God."
  10. Someday it will be impossible to count the people of Israel, because there will be as many of them as there are grains of sand along the seashore. They are now called "Not My People," but in the future they will be called "Children of the Living God."
  11. Israel and Judah will unite and choose one leader. Then they will take back their land, and this will be a great day for Jezreel.

Hosea was a prophet primarily to the Northern kingdom of Israel during the 8th century BC, prophesying during the reigns of Jereboam II, Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah, in the Northern kingdom, and Uzziah, Jotham, and part of the reign of Ahaz in the Southern kingdom. When God appointed Hosea to be a prophet, He made a rather unusual request of him. God told him he was to marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him.

Whether, Gomer, the woman Hosea married, was a prostitute when he married her, as some think, or became unfaithful after they were married is not certain from the text. But if she were pure when he married her, we find this easier to accept and more in keeping with Israel's relationship with God. Would God tell Hosea to break the law by marrying a promiscuous woman, even if the purpose was the salvation of Israel? This is the difficulty we face in accepting that she was a prostitute when Hosea met her.

Hosea did as God told him and married Gomer. Their first child was a son whom they named Jezreel. The name of each of their children had significance to Hosea's prophetic message to Israel. Hosea's whole relationship to Gomer spoke symbolically the message God wanted to convey to Israel through Hosea. In the case of this first child, Jezreel, this was the name of the town where Jehu, king of Israel, massacred the house of Ahab, also a king of Israel. The prophesy God was giving Israel through the name of this child was that He would "avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu and put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel."

Hosea and Gomer had a second child which was a daughter who they named Lo-Ruhamah, meaning, "No Compassion," or "she is not loved." The message to Israel was that God would "no longer have compassion on the house of Israel." The Lord would, however, continue to have compassion for Judah, the Southern kingdom. And because of His compassion for Judah God was going to deliver her from her enemy, the Assyrians. Judah's deliverance from the Assyrians was to be a direct intervention by God and not a result of His enabling Judah to defeat them by means of their military weaponry. And God did just that, supernaturally destroying 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night.

In quick succession Gomer bore Hosea a third child who they named Lo-Ammi, meaning, "Not My People." The message to Israel was that God was going to cut her off and disconnect Himself from her, no longer being her God. She was on her own. She had turned to other gods and could depend on them for their protection. Being merely idols, this amounted to no protection at all.

But with this message to Israel that they were no longer God's people, a message of hope was also given. This message was that a time would come when Israel would be restored. The nation would again become as numerous as "the sand of the sea," and they would again be the "Sons of the living God." Furthermore, when this time of restoration comes, the two kingdoms would again be reunited as one nation under one ruler. At the time of restoration the name of the first child, Jezreel, will take on a new meaning which is, "God Sows."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reflections on Song of Solomon 8

 Song of Solomon 08 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. If you were my brother, I could kiss you whenever we happen to meet, and no one would say I did wrong.
  2. I could take you to the home of my mother, who taught me all I know. I would give you delicious wine and fruit juice as well.
  3. Put your left hand under my head and embrace me with your right arm.
  4. Young women of Jerusalem, promise me by the power of deer and gazelles never to awaken love before it is ready.
  5. Who is this young woman coming in from the desert and leaning on the shoulder of the one she loves? I stirred up your passions under the apple tree where you were born.
  6. Always keep me in your heart and wear this bracelet to remember me by. The passion of love bursting into flame is more powerful than death, stronger than the grave.
  7. Love cannot be drowned by oceans or floods; it cannot be bought, no matter what is offered. Their Friends Speak:
  8. We have a little sister whose breasts are not yet formed. If someone asks to marry her, what should we do?
  9. She isn't a wall that we can defend behind a silver shield. Neither is she a room that we can protect behind a wooden door.
  10. I am a wall around a city, my breasts are towers, and just looking at me brings him great pleasure.
  11. Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-Hamon, which he rents to others for a thousand pieces of silver each.
  12. My vineyard is mine alone! Solomon can keep his silver and the others can keep their share of the profits.
  13. You are in the garden with friends all around. Let me hear your voice!
  14. Hurry to me, my darling! Run faster than a deer to mountains of spices.

In the last verses of chapter 7, the beloved responded to her lover's praise of her beauty by offering herself to him for lovemaking. "I am yours," she says, "Let's stroll through the fields and sleep in the villages." With 8:1 she continued to express her desire for her lover for whom she wanted to show her affection with a kiss whenever she felt like it - even publicly. But public show of affection was frowned on except in the case of certain family members. So she suggested that if he were her brother she could kiss him "whenever we happen to meet." She wouldn't have to be concerned about where they were. Then she would take him to her mother's house where she would serve him wine and he could embrace her. But she cautioned the "young women of Jerusalem" not to awaken love before it is ready. It is as if she were telling them not to do what she is talking about with her husband until they, too, have a husband.

In the last scene of the book, the couple came in from the desert and looked on an apple tree where they first met. This suggests they were emerging from a time of difficulty in the relationship and reflecting on the beginnings of their love. She asked her lover/husband to always keep her in his heart and then gave him a bracelet by which to remember her. She wanted him to give her a love that is powerful enough that oceans cannot drown it and is more priceless than any amount of money.

When she was young and not yet a woman, the beloved's brothers considered what they would do when she came to a marriageable age and someone asked to marry her. They determined that if she were chaste, that is, if she were like a wall that blocks entry to a room, they would give her a silver dowry. But if she were not chaste, like a door that allows entry to a room, they would hide her away.

The beloved spoke for herself saying, "I am a wall." She was now a woman (her breasts were like towers) and she was chaste, having saved herself for marriage. She went on to explain that while she worked in Solomon's vineyards she was around many other tenants, but she did not give herself to any of them. Her vineyard, that is, she herself, she did not give away except to her husband.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Reflections on Song of Solomon 7

 Song of Solomon 07 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. You are a princess, and your feet are graceful in their sandals. Your thighs are works of art, each one a jewel;
  2. your navel is a wine glass filled to overflowing. Your body is full and slender like a bundle of wheat bound together by lilies.
  3. Your breasts are like twins of a deer.
  4. Your neck is like ivory, and your eyes sparkle like the pools of Heshbon by the gate of Bath-Rabbim. Your nose is beautiful like Mount Lebanon above the city of Damascus.
  5. Your head is held high like Mount Carmel; your hair is so lovely it holds a king prisoner.
  6. You are beautiful, so very desirable!
  7. You are tall and slender like a palm tree, and your breasts are full.
  8. I will climb that tree and cling to its branches. I will discover that your breasts are clusters of grapes, and that your breath is the aroma of apples.
  9. Kissing you is more delicious than drinking the finest wine. How wonderful and tasty!
  10. My darling, I am yours, and you desire me.
  11. Let's stroll through the fields and sleep in the villages.
  12. At dawn let's slip out and see if grapevines and fruit trees are covered with blossoms. When we are there, I will give you my love.
  13. Perfume from the magic flower fills the air, my darling. Right at our doorstep I have stored up for you all kinds of tasty fruits.

The husband (the lover) now speaks with more boldness and intimacy as he praises his wife's (the beloved) physical attributes. Her feet are beautiful, her legs like the work of a master. Her navel is a filled wine glass and her waist or body is full and slender as bundled wheat bound by lilies. He goes on to praise her breasts (like twin fawns), neck (like ivory), eyes (like pools), and nose (like Mount Lebanon). Next is her head (crowns her like Mount Carmel) and hair (capable of holding a king prisoner). He concludes saying how beautiful, pleasant, and delightful she is.

The lover then expresses his desire for intimacy with his beloved. She is like a palm tree, he says, her breasts are clusters of fruit, and he wants to climb the palm tree and claim its fruit.

The beloved speaks up to say that she belongs to her love and his desire is for her alone. Then she invites him to come with her to spend the night in lovemaking. In the countryside she will give him her love and they will explore its possibilities. She had treasured all its delicacies, new and old, just for him.

The intent of this Old Testament book seems to be to express the beauty of sex within the marriage relationship. It is a gift from God that is to be enjoyed within the bonds of marriage which is also a gift from God. There is an evil side of sex which is like much that is evil, a misuse or abuse of something that is good. Such abuse of a gift denotes a disdain or lack of consideration for its giver.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Reflections on Song of Solomon 6

 Song of Solomon 06 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Most beautiful of women, tell us where he has gone. Let us help you find him.
  2. My darling has gone down to his garden of spices, where he will feed his sheep and gather lilies.
  3. I am his, and he is mine, as he feeds his sheep among the lilies.
  4. My dearest, the cities of Tirzah and Jerusalem are not as lovely as you. Your charms are more powerful than all of the stars in the heavens.
  5. Turn away your eyes-- they make me melt. Your hair tosses about as gracefully as goats coming down from Gilead.
  6. Your teeth are whiter than sheep freshly washed; they match perfectly, not one is missing.
  7. Behind your veil are hidden beautiful rosy cheeks.
  8. What if I could have sixty queens, eighty wives, and thousands of others!
  9. You would be my only choice, my flawless dove, the favorite child of your mother. The young women, the queens, and all the others tell how excited you are as they sing your praises:
  10. "You are as majestic as the morning sky-- glorious as the moon-- blinding as the sun! Your charms are more powerful than all the stars above."
  11. I went down to see if blossoms were on the walnut trees, grapevines, and fruit trees.
  12. But in my imagination I was suddenly riding on a glorious chariot.
  13. Dance! Dance! Beautiful woman from Shulam, let us see you dance! Why do you want to see this woman from Shulam dancing with the others?

Previously, the beloved, who is now the wife, recalled a dream in which she had gone to bed and then her husband, or lover, came to the door and wanted in. But she was indifferent about getting up to let him in, so he went away. By then, however, she wanted him and went out in the city to look for him. She saw some "young women of Jerusalem" and asked them to tell her husband, if they saw him, that she was lovesick for him. They asked what was so special about him and she described him to them in glowing terms.

In the opening verses of chapter 6, the women, who were possibly intrigued by her description of him, offered to join her in finding her husband. She seems, now, to know where he was, or maybe had just a vague idea. She lets the women know, however, that "I am my love's and my love is mine," conveying that he is not available to them.

With verse 4 the husband had been found and makes it clear that she is still beautiful to him, using various comparisons to describe her features. Though there are numerous women in the royal court, he said, her beauty is praised by them all.

The wife, in verse 11, tells of going to the walnut grove in her search for her husband. She says she went there "to see the blossoms of the valley, to see if the vines were budding and the pomegranates blooming." We might understand this to say she went to find him to see if their love was still in bloom. Verses 12 and 13 are obscure but one understanding of them is that the wife was so carried away with her husband's declaration of her beauty that she imagined herself in a royal entourage riding in one of the chariots as people called her back so they could look on her beauty.

Solomon's Song is difficult to follow at times in its use of imagery and vague descriptions. I am struck by the thought that he intended it to be vague, encouraging readers to use their imagination to fill in the details.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reflections on Song of Solomon 5

 Song of Solomon 05 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. My bride, my very own, I come to my garden and enjoy its spices. I eat my honeycomb and honey; I drink my wine and milk. Eat and drink until you are drunk with love.
  2. I was asleep, but dreaming: The one I love was at the door, knocking and saying, "My darling, my very own, my flawless dove, open the door for me! My head is drenched with evening dew."
  3. But I had already undressed and bathed my feet. Should I dress again and get my feet dirty?
  4. Then my darling's hand reached to open the latch, and my heart stood still.
  5. When I rose to open the door, my hands and my fingers dripped with perfume.
  6. My heart stood still while he spoke to me, but when I opened the door, my darling had disappeared. I searched and shouted, but I could not find him-- there was no answer.
  7. Then I was found by the guards patrolling the town and guarding the wall. They beat me up and stripped off my robe.
  8. Young women of Jerusalem, if you find the one I love, please say to him, "She is weak with desire."
  9. Most beautiful of women, why is the one you love more special than others? Why do you ask us to tell him how you feel?
  10. He is handsome and healthy, the most outstanding among ten thousand.
  11. His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy, black as a raven.
  12. His eyes are a pair of doves bathing in a stream flowing with milk.
  13. His face is a garden of sweet-smelling spices; his lips are lilies dripping with perfume.
  14. His arms are branches of gold covered with jewels; his body is ivory decorated with sapphires.
  15. His legs are columns of marble on feet of gold. He stands there majestic like Mount Lebanon and its choice cedar trees.
  16. His kisses are sweet. I desire him so much! Young women of Jerusalem, he is my lover and friend.

The bride invited the groom to come to her garden, in 4:16, for it was his garden to enjoy. In the opening verse of chapter 5 the groom had come to the garden, which he calls his garden, and has enjoyed it. They had consummated their marriage. Then, possibly to whomever will listen, he extended the invitation to enjoy love.

With verse 2, time had passed since the wedding night. The wife was home sleeping and dreaming. In her dream her husband, who had been gone and was wet with dew, knocked at the door asking her to open to him. But somewhat indifferent she complained that she had already undressed and washed her feet. How could she get dressed again and get her feet dirty? But the husband tried the door and her feelings for him were stirred. So she got up to open the door but the husband had left. He was gone and she was crushed.

She then began to look for him and call out for him, but she could not find him nor did he respond. The guards of the city saw her running about at night and attacked her, beating her and taking her cloak. Then she appealed to the "young women of Jerusalem" to help find her husband and tell him she was lovesick for him. Though she had been indifferent to him, she now regretted her action and wanted him to return.

The women to whom she had appealed asked her, "What makes him better than another?" In other words, what makes him so special that they should help find him? To this she responded with a lengthy description of his assets, describing his strength, his hair, his eyes and cheeks. Continuing she described his arms, body, legs, presence, and mouth. All in all, he was "absolutely desireable." By this time, any indifference she had was gone. All passion for him was renewed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Reflections on Song of Solomon 4

 Song of Solomon 04 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. My darling, you are lovely, so very lovely-- as you look through your veil, your eyes are those of a dove. Your hair tosses about as gracefully as goats coming down from Gilead.
  2. Your teeth are whiter than sheep freshly washed; they match perfectly, not one is missing.
  3. Your lips are crimson cords, your mouth is shapely; behind your veil are hidden beautiful rosy cheeks.
  4. Your neck is more graceful than the tower of David, decorated with thousands of warriors' shields.
  5. Your breasts are perfect; they are twin deer feeding among lilies.
  6. I will hasten to those hills sprinkled with sweet perfume and stay there till sunrise.
  7. My darling, you are lovely in every way.
  8. My bride, together we will leave Lebanon! We will say good-by to the peaks of Mount Amana, Senir, and Hermon, where lions and leopards live in the caves.
  9. My bride, my very own, you have stolen my heart! With one glance from your eyes and the glow of your necklace, you have stolen my heart.
  10. Your love is sweeter than wine; the smell of your perfume is more fragrant than spices.
  11. Your lips are a honeycomb; milk and honey flow from your tongue. Your dress has the aroma of cedar trees from Lebanon.
  12. My bride, my very own, you are a garden, a fountain closed off to all others.
  13. Your arms are vines, covered with delicious fruits and all sorts of spices-- henna, nard,
  14. saffron, calamus, cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, and aloes --all the finest spices.
  15. You are a spring in the garden, a fountain of pure water, and a refreshing stream from Mount Lebanon.
  16. Let the north wind blow, the south wind too! Let them spread the aroma of my garden, so the one I love may enter and taste its delicious fruits.

It was the wedding night and the two lovers were together and the groom was complimenting his by bride telling her how beautiful she was. Her eyes were tranquil as doves and her hair streaming down like a flock of goat coming down the mountain. Her teeth, lips, and mouth were all described in endearing terms as was her brow or temple. Rather than a description of beauty, her neck was described to depict the way in which she carried herself. It was with a queenly bearing. Her breasts were as soft and delicate, as fawns, and the lover anticipated that before morning he would make his way to her breasts which were luxuriant as frankincense and myrrh.

Though the beloved had initially been uncomplimentary of her beauty, which seemed also to be the opinion of the daughters of Jerusalem, in the eyes of her new husband, she was beautiful and without flaw. He invited his bride to leave behind her home and to come live with him. For she had captured his heart and he wanted to be with her.

He anticipated their lovemaking which he said will be better than wine and her perfume than balsam. Her kisses were like honey and even her clothing was fragrant. All the senses being captured. Until then, the bride had been a "locked garden," that is, she was a virgin, presenting herself pure to her husband. The husband described her garden with it fruits and flowers and spices. Her garden of purity was special indeed. It was like a well of flowing water that satisfied his thirst.

And then the bride unlocks her garden and invites her husband to enter and enjoy its fruits.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Reflections on Song of Solomon 3

 Song of Solomon 03 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. While in bed at night, I reached for the one I love with heart and soul. I looked for him, but he wasn't there.
  2. So I searched through the town for the one I love. I looked on every street, but he wasn't there.
  3. I even asked the guards patrolling the town, "Have you seen the one I love so much?"
  4. Right after that, I found him. I held him and would not let go until I had taken him to the home of my mother.
  5. Young women of Jerusalem, promise me by the power of deer and gazelles, never to awaken love before it is ready.
  6. What do we see approaching from the desert like a cloud of smoke? With it comes the sweet smell of spices, including myrrh and frankincense.
  7. It is King Solomon carried on a throne, surrounded by sixty of Israel's best soldiers.
  8. Each of them wears a sword. They are experts at fighting, even in the dark.
  9. The throne is made of trees from Lebanon.
  10. Its posts are silver, the back is gold, and the seat is covered with purple cloth. You women of Jerusalem have taken great care to furnish the inside.
  11. Now come and see the crown given to Solomon by his mother on his happy wedding day.

Possibly from fear of losing her lover, the beloved dreamed that she could not find him and went looking for him. When he was found, she held to him tightly and took him to her family home.

Following this scene, the beloved again reminded the young women of Jerusalem not to stir up love until the appropriate time. Love belongs with marriage and should not be stirred up until marriage is a possibility. For her, that time is approaching.

Suddenly the scene changes again and the beloved looked out across the wilderness to see a column of smoke. It was the smoke of incense being burned as a procession of people, led by her lover, made their way to her home to begin the wedding festivities. The lover, now groom, is identified as Solomon, and he was leading a procession consisting of armed soldiers, making their way to the beloved's home. The king was riding in a sedan chair he had made for himself and his bride. It was made of the best wood and adorned with silver and gold and purple cloth, lovingly prepared by the young women of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Reflections on Song of Solomon 2

 Song of Solomon 02 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. I am merely a rose from the land of Sharon, a lily from the valley.
  2. My darling, when compared with other young women, you are a lily among thorns.
  3. And you, my love, are an apple tree among trees of the forest. Your shade brought me pleasure; your fruit was sweet.
  4. You led me to your banquet room and showered me with love.
  5. Refresh and strengthen me with raisins and apples. I am hungry for love!
  6. Put your left hand under my head and embrace me with your right arm.
  7. Young women of Jerusalem, promise me by the power of deer and gazelles never to awaken love before it is ready.
  8. I hear the voice of the one I love, as he comes leaping over mountains and hills
  9. like a deer or a gazelle. Now he stands outside our wall, looking through the window
  10. and speaking to me. My darling, I love you! Let's go away together.
  11. Winter is past, the rain has stopped;
  12. flowers cover the earth, it's time to sing. The cooing of doves is heard in our land.
  13. Fig trees are bearing fruit, while blossoms on grapevines fill the air with perfume. My darling, I love you! Let's go away together.
  14. You are my dove hiding among the rocks on the side of a cliff. Let me see how lovely you are! Let me hear the sound of your melodious voice.
  15. Our vineyards are in blossom; we must catch the little foxes that destroy the vineyards.
  16. My darling, I am yours, and you are mine, as you feed your sheep among the lilies.
  17. Pretend to be a young deer dancing on mountain slopes until daylight comes and shadows fade away.

The beloved (the woman in this romanic affair) describes herself now in somewhat more attractive terms, calling herself a rose of Sharon. Though describing herself as being common or plain, as a common lily, it is a contrast to her earlier description of herself as being dark and unattractive from being in the sun. The lover (the man) speaks up, though, to say she is not just any lily, but a lily that makes all the other women to be as thorns. She is a lily among thorns.

The beloved reciprocates, speaking of her lover as an apple tree among the trees of the forest, which might be somewhat like his description of her as a lily among thorns. She is lovesick with his attentiveness to her, enjoying his protectiveness, as she sits in his shade, enjoying also that he gives public attention to her by taking her to the banquet hall, and also enjoys the intimacy of their relationship as noted by his being sweet to her taste. The beloved goes on to address the young women of Jerusalem telling them to wait until love comes to them at the appropriate time. Until then, any effort to stir up love might result in stirring up something less than love.

The scene changes from the banquet hall to a country setting. The beloved is at her home and her lover comes bounding to her over the hills like a gazelle or young stag. He stops behind the wall of her home to view her through the lattice. And from behind the wall he calls to her to come with him for a walk in the countryside where spring has sprung. Everything is in bloom and the birds are singing and cooing. Might he also be describing their relationship? It is more than the countryside in bloom that the lover is interested in. It is also the presence of the beloved he wants, to see her face and hear her voice. Either of the two could be speaking in verse 15, calling to give attention to those things that might harm the relationship like foxes in the vineyard that ruin it.

The beloved glows in her relationship with her lover, pointing out that their love is for each other alone, for they have given themselves only to the other. She desires the time when they can spend the night together and he can be like a stag on the divided mountains of her breasts.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reflections on Song of Solomon 1

 Song of Solomon 01 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. This is Solomon's most beautiful song.
  2. Kiss me tenderly! Your love is better than wine,
  3. and you smell so sweet. All the young women adore you; the very mention of your name is like spreading perfume. *
  4. Hurry, my king! Let's hurry.
  5. Take me to your home. We are happy for you! And we praise your love even more than wine. Young women of Jerusalem, it is only right that you should adore him. My skin is dark and beautiful, like a tent in the desert or like Solomon's curtains.
  6. Don't stare at me just because the sun has darkened my skin. My brothers were angry with me; they made me work in the vineyard, and so I neglected my complexion. Don't let the other shepherds think badly of me.
  7. I'm not one of those women who shamelessly follow after shepherds. My darling, I love you! Where do you feed your sheep and let them rest at noon?
  8. My dearest, if you don't know, just follow the path of the sheep. Then feed your young goats near the shepherds' tents.
  9. You move as gracefully as the pony that leads the chariot of the king.
  10. Earrings add to your beauty, and you wear a necklace of precious stones.
  11. Let's make you some jewelry of gold, woven with silver.
  12. My king, while you were on your couch, my love was a magic charm.
  13. My darling, you are perfume between my breasts;
  14. you are flower blossoms from the gardens of En-Gedi.
  15. My darling, you are lovely, so very lovely-- your eyes are those of a dove.
  16. My love, you are handsome, truly handsome-- the fresh green grass will be our wedding bed
  17. in the shade of cedar and cypress trees.

Song of Solomon is a single song written by Solomon and might be considered his best song. There are various interpretations of its meaning, from a picture of Christ's love for the church to God's love for Israel to an understanding of a proper romantic love in courtship and marriage. It is this later understanding which is taken in these reflections.

The female lover, the beloved, anticipates the exhilaration of making love with her lover who all the women find attractive. She is anxious to be called into the king's chambers, perhaps to plead to be released to be with her lover. The beloved was self-conscious of her appearance for her brothers made her work the vineyards and the sun had darkened her skin. So she had not been able to care for herself, her own vineyard.

The beloved wishes to be with her lover and enquires of where to find him - "Where do you pasture your sheep?" She would rather be with him than as a veiled woman in the presence of other men. The lover responds telling her to follow the sheep and she will find him and can pasture nearby. The lover goes on to tell the beloved of her beauty to him, contrasting her self-consciousness about her dark skin. He tells her she is as attractive as if she were the only woman among many men. Her jewelry accentuated her beauty.

The beloved can think only of her lover even while sitting by the king on his couch. She has a sachet of myrrh around her neck to remind her of her lover through the night. The lover returns the praise, telling her of her beautiful eyes which were like doves. In the Jewish tradition, a bride with beautiful eyes also possessed a beautiful character.

The beloved again speaks of the handsomeness of her lover. He is not only handsome but also had a delightful personality. She envisioned them together with the grass as a bed and the cedars and cypress as a roof.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Reflections on Ecclesiastes 12

 Ecclesiastes 12 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Keep your Creator in mind while you are young! In years to come, you will be burdened down with troubles and say, "I don't enjoy life anymore."
  2. Someday the light of the sun and the moon and the stars will all seem dim to you. Rain clouds will remain over your head.
  3. Your body will grow feeble, your teeth will decay, and your eyesight fail.
  4. The noisy grinding of grain will be shut out by your deaf ears, but even the song of a bird will keep you awake.
  5. You will be afraid to climb up a hill or walk down a road. Your hair will turn as white as almond blossoms. You will feel lifeless and drag along like an old grasshopper. We each go to our eternal home, and the streets are filled with those who mourn.
  6. The silver cord snaps, the golden bowl breaks; the water pitcher is smashed, and the pulley at the well is shattered.
  7. So our bodies return to the earth, and the life-giving breath returns to God.
  8. Nothing makes sense. I have seen it all-- nothing makes sense.
  9. I was a wise teacher with much understanding, and I collected a number of proverbs that I had carefully studied.
  10. Then I tried to explain these things in the best and most accurate way.
  11. Words of wisdom are like the stick a farmer uses to make animals move. These sayings come from God, our only shepherd, and they are like nails that fasten things together.
  12. My child, I warn you to stay away from any teachings except these. There is no end to books, and too much study will wear you out.
  13. Everything you were taught can be put into a few words: Respect and obey God! This is what life is all about.
  14. God will judge everything we do, even what is done in secret, whether good or bad.

Solomon concluded it all in this last chapter with the advise: One should remember their Creator. This speaks of more than simply remembering He exists. It is to revere Him and observe His instructions for life. The time to do this is when one is young and has their whole life before them and can fully enjoy life with God's help and not toward the end of life when the troubles of old age come and there is no delight left for life.

Solomon depicts these waning years of life through figurative language. The sun and light are darkened, he says, referring possibly to the loss of sight. Rain comes, depicting times of trouble, which we have in all periods of our lives, but in old age the clouds return as soon as the rain is past, immediately promising more rain. Continuing with his figurative desciption of old age, he speaks of the guardians of the house, the arms and hands, which tremble, the strong men, the legs, that stoop, the women who grind, which are the teeth, cease to grind, and the ones who watch through the window, which is the eyesight, see dimly.

The doors at the street are shut, depicting possibly the sinking in of the lips due to the loss of teeth. One rises at the sound of a bird, referring maybe to rising early due to the inability in old age to sleep, and the daughters of song grow faint, referring to impaired hearing. Finally, there is the fear of heights and dangers on the road due to loss of energy and stability causing fear of venturing out. The almond tree blossoms, which is the whitening of the hair, and the grasshopper loses its spring, which is the stooped posture of old age and lack of spring in the step. Man is headed to his eternal home and people mourn the loss.

Remember your Creator before the silver cord is snapped and life ceases, and the dust, which was the body, returns to the earth from which it came, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Concluding the whole matter, he says, fear "God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Reflections on Ecclesiastes 11

 Ecclesiastes 11 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Be generous, and someday you will be rewarded.
  2. Share what you have with seven or eight others, because you never know when disaster may strike.
  3. Rain clouds always bring rain; trees always stay wherever they fall.
  4. If you worry about the weather and don't plant seeds, you won't harvest a crop.
  5. No one can explain how a baby breathes before it is born. So how can anyone explain what God does? After all, he created everything.
  6. Plant your seeds early in the morning and keep working in the field until dark. Who knows? Your work might pay off, and your seeds might produce.
  7. Nothing on earth is more beautiful than the morning sun.
  8. Even if you live to a ripe old age, you should try to enjoy each day, because darkness will come and will last a long time. Nothing makes sense.
  9. Be cheerful and enjoy life while you are young! Do what you want and find pleasure in what you see. But don't forget that God will judge you for everything you do.
  10. Rid yourself of all worry and pain, because the wonderful moments of youth quickly disappear.

Solomon emphasizes our lack of knowledge of the future and gives advice accordingly. Since one cannot know what the future holds it is wise to diversify one's efforts, not focusing on just one thing. This might be applied to investments to farming or to labor. If one effort fails another may prosper. By contrast, rather than diversifying one might choose instead to optimize their efforts by waiting for the most opportune time to do what they will do, or seek the most profitable commodity for their efforts. But this will lead to doing nothing. One will always be looking for a more opportune time. Even if the time is good they will wait until it is better and as a result never act.

Solomon then turned his principle of diversification to the farmer. As we don't know the path of the wind or how a fetus is formed in the womb, neither do we know the work of God who makes everything. So the farmer should not plant just one crop but should instead plant several. Since he doesn't know which planting will succeed he can be reasonably sure that at least some will succeed

While life is uncertain one can be certain that there will be dark days. Therefore we should enjoy the light while we have the light for we can be sure the dark will come. This can be applied specifically to the young. Solomon advises the young to enjoy life while they can, for "youth and the prime of life are fleeting." However, they should temper their enjoyment with the knowledge that God will bring a judgment.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Reflections on Ecclesiastes 10

 Ecclesiastes 10 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. A few dead flies in perfume make all of it stink, and a little foolishness outweighs a lot of wisdom.
  2. Sensible thoughts lead you to do right; foolish thoughts lead you to do wrong.
  3. Fools show their stupidity by the way they live; it's easy to see they have no sense.
  4. Don't give up your job when your boss gets angry. If you stay calm, you'll be forgiven.
  5. Some things rulers do are terribly unfair:
  6. They honor fools, but dishonor the rich;
  7. they let slaves ride on horses, but force slave owners to walk.
  8. If you dig a pit, you might fall in; if you break down a wall, a snake might bite you.
  9. You could even get hurt by chiseling a stone or chopping a log.
  10. If you don't sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use; if you are smart, you'll know what to do.
  11. The power to charm a snake does you no good if it bites you anyway.
  12. If you talk sensibly, you will have friends; if you talk foolishly, you will destroy yourself.
  13. Fools begin with nonsense, and their stupid chatter ends with disaster.
  14. They never tire of talking, but none of us really know what the future will bring.
  15. Fools wear themselves out-- they don't know enough to find their way home.
  16. A country is in for trouble when its ruler is childish, and its leaders party all day long.
  17. But a nation will prosper when its ruler is mature, and its leaders don't party too much.
  18. Some people are too lazy to fix a leaky roof-- then the house falls in.
  19. Eating and drinking make you feel happy, and bribes can buy everything you need.
  20. Don't even think about cursing the king; don't curse the rich, not even in secret. A little bird might hear and tell everything.

Continuing from 9:18, Solomon makes the point that as important as wisdom is, it only takes a little folly to nullify it, just as one dead fly in expensive perfume will cause it to stink. Besides folly, wisdom can be nullified by a capricious ruler who acts out of anger or on a whim. However, even in the face of a ruler's capricious actions a wise man may still prevail. Though the fool may react to the ruler's anger by leaving his post, the wise man will remain at his post and through his calmness may put the ruler's anger to rest. Besides his anger, the capricious ruler may nullify wisdom by unthinkingly reversing roles. For instance appointing a fool "to great heights," while "the rich remain in lowly positions." Or by placing "slaves on horses," while princes walk like slaves. In such an environment the wise may be set aside while fools are elevated.

A further way in which wisdom may be nullified is by improper timing or acting without thinking. For instance one digs a pit or breaks through a wall without anticipating possible dangers and needed precautions. So the one falls in the pit he dug and the other is bitten by a snake hidden in the wall. So it is also for one who quarries stones or who splits trees. There is potential danger with either if precautions are not taken. Wisdom is nullified if it is not exercised. Though wise in some areas, a person may act without thinking in another area or at another time.

Following the section on ways wisdom can be nullified, Solomon begins to discuss the foolishness of unguarded words. The fool, he says, is prone to make himself known through his words. The lips of a fool consume him," he says. From the time he opens his mouth until he closes it again he speaks only folly and madness. But rather than minimizing his words he multiplies them making his foolishness even more apparent. He speaks things he knows nothing about for how can he know the future? Such a person doesn't even know how to find his way to the city, or as we might say, "he doesn't know enough to get in out of the rain."

Concluding the chapter Solomon moves on to discuss unwise leaders. A country is unfortunate, he says, to have leaders who lack experience and who are more concerned with the luxuries of their position than with the responsibilities. They feast and drink wine, not for strength, but for drunkenness. They neglect responsibilities allowing the roof to cave in and the house to leak, speaking metaphorically. To them, money is the answer to everything. But Solomon cautions against criticizing such leaders, even though they may be well deserving of criticism. For you don't know when you might be overheard and reported to the ruler.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Reflections on Ecclesiastes 9

 Ecclesiastes 09 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. I thought about these things. Then I understood that God has power over everyone, even those of us who are wise and live right. Anything can happen to any of us, and so we never know if life will be good or bad.
  2. But exactly the same thing will finally happen to all of us, whether we live right and respect God or sin and don't respect God. Yes, the same thing will happen if we offer sacrifices to God or if we don't, if we keep our promises or break them.
  3. It's terribly unfair for the same thing to happen to each of us. We are mean and foolish while we live, and then we die.
  4. As long as we are alive, we still have hope, just as a live dog is better off than a dead lion.
  5. We know that we will die, but the dead don't know a thing. Nothing good will happen to them--they are gone and forgotten.
  6. Their loves, their hates, and their jealous feelings have all disappeared with them. They will never again take part in anything that happens on this earth.
  7. Be happy and enjoy eating and drinking! God decided long ago that this is what you should do.
  8. Dress up, comb your hair, and look your best.
  9. Life is short, and you love your wife, so enjoy being with her. This is what you are supposed to do as you struggle through life on this earth.
  10. Work hard at whatever you do. You will soon go to the world of the dead, where no one works or thinks or reasons or knows anything.
  11. Here is something else I have learned: The fastest runners and the greatest heroes don't always win races and battles. Wisdom, intelligence, and skill don't always make you healthy, rich, or popular. We each have our share of bad luck.
  12. None of us know when we might fall victim to a sudden disaster and find ourselves like fish in a net or birds in a trap.
  13. Once I saw what people really think of wisdom.
  14. It happened when a powerful ruler surrounded and attacked a small city where only a few people lived. The enemy army was getting ready to break through the city walls.
  15. But the city was saved by the wisdom of a poor person who was soon forgotten.
  16. So I decided that wisdom is better than strength. Yet if you are poor, no one pays any attention to you, no matter how smart you are.
  17. Words of wisdom spoken softly make much more sense than the shouts of a ruler to a crowd of fools.
  18. Wisdom is more powerful than weapons, yet one mistake can destroy all the good you have done.

Solomon said that having reflected on the questions referred to in 8:17, he had concluded that man is ignorant of the affects of righteousness, wisdom, and other activity. They don't understand that they are not masters of their own fate, that they are subject to God's sovereign will. Evidence that we are not masters of our fate is that all people share the common fate of death. No one escapes it, regardless of what they have done or not done. And if death is the end, this is a gross misjustice. But since all opportunity for enjoying life are gone when one dies, they should take advantage of life while they can. Though everyone dies, there are rewards in life that one does not have in death. So there is motivation to live well.

So, since all opportunity is lost after death, Solomon counsels to enjoy the food and drink you have earned, and do so with a cheerful heart. If you have gained more than the necessities of life such as fine clothes and lotions, enjoy them. Enjoy life with the wife you love. God has given you both the ability to possess these, through your labor, and to enjoy all of it, therefore they are acceptable to Him. Since God enables us to enjoy the fruit of our labor, we should take advantage of all we can, working diligently, while we have life and the opportunity to work, plan, or gain knowledge and wisdom.

Besides enjoying the fruit of our labor before death overtakes us, another reason to enjoy it while we can is that we do not know what adversity might overtake us and rob us of the enjoyment. While those who have physical strength, wisdom, discernment, and skill have advantages, they are subject to the same uncertainties of life as those who do not have these qualities.

A further injustice is the failure sometimes to be recognized for our contributions. This may be particularly true if we are poor, lacking prestige. Solomon gave an example of a wise man who was poor who used his wisdom to save a small city from a large army. But no one rewarded him or recognized his contribution.

While the calm words of a wise man are to be heeded, and wisdom is better than weapons of war, the actions of one sinner can destroy the good of the wise.