Be not righteous overmuch;....

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by kyredneck, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. kyredneck

    kyredneck
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    .....neither make thyself overwise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? Ecc 7:16,17 ASV

    Share your thoughts on this?

    An old saying I've heard comes to mind:

    "Don't be so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good."

    Is that the gist of what Solomon was saying, or something along those lines?
     
    #1 kyredneck, Jun 19, 2013
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  2. agedman

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    I haven't done much with this passage, but will give my general thoughts.

    This passage generally (if I recall) is in contrasts. However, it is couched in the view that life is futile and ultimately expending energy on extremes is not worth the effort.

    To do so isolates the person(s) for no one likes a "know it all" and the wicked have their natural rebuke of sin that may take their life.

    There was is an african-american spiritual (click on title to see full lyrics), "Keep to the middle of the road."

    Perhaps it is along the same thinking.
     
  3. salzer mtn

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    kyredneck has turned Arminian :tonofbricks::laugh:
     
    #3 salzer mtn, Jun 19, 2013
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  4. Mexdeaf

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    Remember that Solomon is addressing "life under the Sun" or life without God. He's speaking from that perspective, not from the perspective of a believer.
     
  5. kyredneck

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    Life under the Sun = life without God.

    Show me that from the book? :)

    I believe Solomon's theme to be simply wisdom.
     
    #5 kyredneck, Jun 20, 2013
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  6. kyredneck

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    Yes! It is about contrasts; from the preceding verses in that chapter alone:

    1 A good name is better than precious oil; and the day of death, than the day of one`s birth.
    2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
    3 Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made glad.
    4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
    5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
    6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.
    7 Surely extortion maketh the wise man foolish; and a bribe destroyeth the understanding.
    8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
    9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
    10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.
    11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance; yea, more excellent is it for them that see the sun.
    12 For wisdom is a defence, even as money is a defence; but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom preserveth the life of him that hath it.
    13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?
    14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yea, God hath made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything that shall be after him.
    15 All this have I seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his evil-doing.

    As in to seek to 'strike a balance' in all things?

    Not sure, it could be construed as 'holding to the straight and narrow'. Thanks for sharing that.
     
    #6 kyredneck, Jun 20, 2013
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  7. Mexdeaf

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    Gladly. For many years I struggled with understanding the book of Ecclesiastes until I understood the importance of looking at it from the position of a person who understood things from a totally secular way. When I understood the difference between life "under the sun" and life "from the hand of God" the book opened up to me.

    From http://www.blueletterbible.org/study/eo/Ecc/Ecc000.cfm

    But a key phrase to be noted is "under the sun". It is found 29 times in 27 verses. It suggests that this message of vanity is true when one looks at life purely from an earthly perspective. Leave God and the afterlife out of the equation, and life is truly vanity!

    (Another way to look at "under the sun" is life without God's revelation or without a relationship with God.)

    From http://www.ivpress.com/bible/eccles/

    The Teacher's message seems particularly aimed at the secularists—those who seek to find life's meaning outside of a practical faith in God. With despairing perception, the author explores a grim reality he calls "life under the sun"—life outside of God's control and goodness. He addresses some of life's most sensitive questions: Where can we find satisfaction? Who is really in control? What does it take to be content? How do we live wisely?


    Much of the time God is left out of the discussion. But when he is introduced, everything changes. "Life under the sun" becomes "life from the hand of God." Chasing after meaning is transformed into the pursuit of God.



     
  8. Benjamin

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    Life outside of God's control?! No such thing, God is "Providentially" Sovereign in all things.;) We will find we've been satisfactorily and fairly dealt with in the end. But the explanation being raised above seems to be geared toward imposing a certain type of control during life under the sun.

    Yes, I believe God is Sovereign and in control and Ecc is speaking about satisfaction as we struggle in this life here and now, and to be clear, no, I have not turned toward a deterministic view ofcontrol, on that note:

    "Life under the sun" becomes "life from the hand of God."

    Call me suspicious, but in this explanation (of transformation) it seems the type of control has experienced a Deterministic interpretational twist that begins to miss the full message as per the Op.

    Now, I certainly give the glory to God for the things in life, I trust in His ways which are guided from under His Providential control but would think of the transformation coming through His influences and our responses and maybe giving that little bit of extra effort in appreciation rather than from a preset Sovereignly Determined type of control that would/might cause one to forego giving that little extra in life.

    So regarding:
    I do think Solomon is saying something along those lines and the proper view of the type of Sovereign control is needed to get the full message of what Solomon is saying in Ecc about life under the sun.

    Just sayin...
     
    #8 Benjamin, Jun 20, 2013
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  9. Mexdeaf

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    Remember it's the "without God" perspective Solomon is writing from, he's not writing about doctrine here (although the JW's would like us to believe that).

    :smilewinkgrin:
     
  10. Inspector Javert

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    ................
     
    #10 Inspector Javert, Jun 20, 2013
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  11. Benjamin

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    Ah, but what doe life “without God” mean? What did it mean to Solomon? That God wasn’t there and involved somehow? Did he think he completely separated himself from God while he went about life in this world? Kind of brings us back to the point I was trying to make. We are creatures Divinely designed to have reason and intellect with a mind and will of our own and Solomon is speaking of what seems to be a dilemma to us. We are not living God’s life, we are living our own life and although we are always under His Providential control there is a part of us that is “without God” - our minds are our own and while living under the sun we will have choices to make about how we live. Do we put our little part into life and live it with a little individuality? Is it okay to have some enjoyment pertaining to the gifts which are allowed us through Divine creaturely design, such as intellect and a mind to reason with, or do we stiffly walk down the path of life hoping God is determining and directing our every move?

    :type:

    Ecc 3:13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

    Solomon knew Who his Master was, Who he served and Who was in control of all things but His Master also gave him the gift of great wisdom upon which to act on. In life comes all kinds of events, new wives to seek, arguments over babies to settle and whatnot, and why not take some enjoyment in this life according to what you like? Pleasures, wealth and such things are all vanity, vanity, vanity anyway because all things belong to our Master and none of this compares to what is to come – but how does one see himself dealing with this life under the sun “without God” while still knowing that God is truly there watching? We know His perfect judgment is coming in all matters regardless while we go about screwing everything up we touch.

    Study all the books and learn all you want about what God would desire of us and try to serve Him perfectly but that is just vanity and you’re still going to have to make some decisions about how you want to live your life because we were made that way. All the decisions in our lives are rooted in vanity but we still make them so do we anguish over that we make these “without God” and despair about our weaknesses or do we just keep on trucking knowing that God’s is there in everything we do.

    :type:

    You only live and die once in this life and it’s a good thing to feel the sun on your face and be alive so enjoy the time even though we can’t take it with us where we’re going. Take advantage of who you are, which seem to involve some individuality to us, even though there is nothing new under the sun as far as God is concerned. We do have a portion in this life to reach for so:

    Ecc 9:9-10 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

    (10) Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

    :type:

    IOW’s our life “without God” still involves God because He is in control (Providentially) and so we live a life in union with God according to the freedoms we take, the portion we are allowed which have been gifted to us through way we have been designed – with a mind, a spirit and will of our own. Therefore, fear Him, love and trust Him, be devoted in your heart to Him and obey Him in while we go about fulfilling our vanities knowing we will be righteously judged in this life we find ourselves in as per His orderly plan, which includes us having some freedoms, but that He remains in control of. We’re not given much to try to be righteous over, it’s all rather empty and unsatisfactory to us, and it seems futile considering the big picture, but take your best shot.

    This is a fun subject, it’s been a while since I’ve read Ecclesiastes and I’m going to have to sit back and relax and enjoy a fresh reading of it.
     
  12. Inspector Javert

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  13. kyredneck

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    Thanks Mex, I mostly agree with the point you are making, especially when one considers the truth of 1 Ki 11:1-13 concerning Solomon, then light is shed on his standpoint when he said, "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless".

    But also the truth of 1 Ki 3:12 shouldn't be forgotten; the book of Ecclesiastes is loaded with practical truths for Christians today.
     
  14. kyredneck

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    Ditto; good idea.
     
  15. Mexdeaf

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    Yes.:thumbs:
     

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