The Wisdom of Knowing the Limits of Wisdom (Ecclesiastes 7:15-29)
CrossWay Community Church
January 26th, 2020
The following are my notes / outlines from a series of talks I did on the book of Ecclesiastes for the teen retreat at Grace Bible Church in Boise, Idaho.
On Sunday, January 24th, 2016, I began a Core Seminar on Redemptive History & Biblical Theology at my church, Lake Drive Baptist Church. During the course of this series I’ll be sending out emails recapping lessons and directing recipients to resources for further study.
Rather than just share these recaps with my church family, I’ve decided to share them here on the blog for anyone else who might be interested. I will be posting them occasionally over the next couple of months on a weekly basis or so.
See previous posts:
We continue this week’s core seminar recap with a brief–and I mean brief–survey of the wisdom literature and the psalms.
God supplies wisdom and songs for his covenant-bound, new-creational kingdom people.
The wisdom literature and songs (psalms) lead God’s people to live properly as his redemptive-historical people with regards to (a) how they are to relate and respond to God (worship and prayer [think: the psalms]), (b) down to earth, everyday, practical living (think: Proverbs), and (c) abstract questions about life (think especially Job and Ecclesiastes).
These books–Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon–are often the ones that feel the least “redemptive-historical.” They feel the least storied, in other words. The least related to the movement of God’s saving purposes across Biblical history. They feel closer to what we might call “timeless truths.”
But, even still, these books still assume redemptive-historical realities. They have redemptive history in their background.
For example, their guidance assumes the realities of redemptive history like…
(a) God’s original creation design…
e.g., Proverbs understands wisdom as something built into the fabric of creation (see Prov 8).
(b) The fall and the entrance of evil and sin into that design…
e.g., the account of Job is only possible in a world of suffering and evil. Or, again, the book of Ecclesiastes warns us of our sinful (i.e., fallen) tendency to seek meaning apart from God.
And (c) God’s activity to restore his creation through salvation and judgment…
e.g., the Psalms speak of God’s saving activity and his promises to save in the future, i.e., redemptive-historical promises.
Or, again, Proverbs makes clear that wisdom begins with something of a converted state–a disposition that is called “fearing God.” As such, Proverbs assumes the fall, that we are all sinful “fools” who need to be rightly re-oriented to God (conversion, regeneration).
In addition, these songs and wisdom books equip God’s people to live out that role as his redemptive-historical people in the nitty gritty aspects of every day life, in the midst of the full-range of human emotions and experiences.
Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.
And, so, in closing, to recap the role of these books within redemptive history–God supplies wisdom and songs for his covenant-bound, new-creational kingdom people.
In a previous post, “Test Everything… and Think!”, I addressed an all too common problem among Christianity—a lack of examining, testing, questioning, and confirming our beliefs, thoughts, actions, etc. However, I believe this idea of testing beliefs and manners of conduct is very much attached to the idea of what I will call “Biblical discontentment.”
Now, obviously I am not referring to being discontent with the circumstances that God gives us. In Philippians 4:13 Paul said that he could be content in all circumstances through the One strengthening him (cf. v.11-12). The type of discontentment I am referring to here is not contrary to the contentment Paul had in mind in these verses.
The three months before my wedding I rented a room from a nice couple I knew through school. In their kitchen they had a small decorative plate mounted on the wall with a prayer printed on it. This prayer does a very good job summarizing the correct perspective on contentment that I am trying to present in this article: