Good morning! Today we finish with the rest of the book of Ecclesiastes (chapters 6-12). We’re not actually reading this (or any of the Wisdom literature) the way it is most helpfully read. Each book, chapter and verse might be better if savored in small doses as one would a strong cup of coffee. However, in reading the Bible through the way we are, we aren’t taking as much time as we could with these wisdom texts. I hope and trust that you will come back to them and reflect further as the occasion calls for in the years to come. For today, we consider the main point of “the Teacher” in Ecclesiastes: life has no guarantees but righteousness is better than foolishness. Furthermore, enjoy life while you can because hardships and death await everyone.
Good morning! Today we start the book of Ecclesiastes, chapters 1-5. This wisdom book offers a more skeptical, maybe even cynical, appraisal of human life and activities. Tradition suggests that King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes much later in life, after he’d written Song of Songs as a lovestruck adolescent and Proverbs as a practical, wise ruler. I rather like the image of Solomon in his final years reflecting on the activities of his life, and the presence of God in them. This book gets to the heart of the matter. It concerns the “meaning of life” in a most explicit way.
Good morning! With today’s last two chapters (Proverbs 30-31), we finish this book of sayings. These chapters are somewhat similar and dissimilar to those which we have read in the majority of the book. They try to boil down exemplary wisdom into easily digestible aphorisms which summarize basic truths. However, these chapters finish the book with more extended advice-giving and unique praise for “a capable wife”.
Good morning! Here we have another day of readings from Proverbs (27-29), and another wearisome reference to a “contentious wife”. We also find some curious passages that lead one to wonder about the specific situations that led to them, including Proverbs 27:14, “Whoever blesses a neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” A short story about that encounter practically writes itself.
Good morning! Many verses in the Hebrew Scriptures have been given further life by their inclusion in more recent texts. This morning’s chapters from Proverbs (25-26) draw particular attention for the ways their wisdom has been relayed into different contexts through echoes in the New Testament.
Good morning! Today’s two chapters of Proverbs (23-24) expand the genre slightly to allow for proverbs that take more than one verse to complete. Now the message of a proverb might be unfurled over the course of multiple verses, allowing for thoughts to be more fully developed.
Good morning! Today in Proverbs 20-22, the list of one saying after another continues, barely interrupted by chapter markings. Then, midway through chapter 22, the writer switches to what’s labeled “Sayings of the Wise”, presumably because these “thirty sayings” (which continue into tomorrow) are no longer directly attributed to Solomon.