Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ecclesiastes Days

Earlier this week, Don Sprowl, the Chief Academic Officer of IWU. Shared about the contrast between the times when we really feel like Ecclesiastes--"Futile, futile, everything is futile"--and the inner peace we can have with Christ inside. We can learn to be content, as Paul says in Philippians 4.

I'm not having an Ecclesiastes day today, but I know what he was saying. I've come to view most of Ecclesiastes as something like a psalm of lament, although maybe I would call it a psalm for days when everything seems pointless. Dr. Sprowl was contrasting how things look "out there" to the way we know things are "in here."

The point of psalms of lament--or psalms of thanksgivings... or especially imprecatory psalms--is not to teach us stuff. That's a shallow view of the Bible, as if it's only about some school teacher with a ruler waiting to smack us on the knuckles if we don't memorize the point. These serve an inspired cathartic purpose. Yes, they tell us it's okay to be sad, to rejoice, to be angry. But they are not an excuse to wallow in sadness, feed our anger (it's fine to endlessly feed your thankfulness). They're moments for expression so that we can get it all out and move on.

It was a helpful thought to me for those days like Ecclesiastes. To me it is essential to read all of Ecclesiastes in the light of the final chapter, which I might paraphrase something like this--"So Solomon was pretty smart, but hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and do his will, because that really sums it all up."


matthew laker said...

Recently I have been rediscovering the psalm. I have shared with others to use them for prayers and perspective at times. Love how you put it "They're moments for expression so that we can get it all out and move on."

Susan Moore said...

Thanks for this. Sorry 'bout the knuckles. :-(