Monday, July 05, 2010
The Work of the Wise, Part 2 and 3: Presentation, Appropriation (Ecclesiastes 12:10-11)
These are taken from my notes on Ecclesiastes 12:9-12. Part 1 is here.
II. The Work of Presentation, 12:10 The Kohelet sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.
A. Applicable words are delightful ones, not only practical but creatively presented. We seek to communicate effectively to impart to others the spiritual nourishment you have fed upon (1 Tim 4:6). Taking care to find the fitting word is pleasurable and meaningful. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” took a while to write. "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances" (Proverbs 25:11)
He sought to find: baqash, to seek as you would seek after lost sheep (Ps 119:176). To find is to discover and take hold of, to grasp to apprehend, even to conquer. This work is like finding a needle in a haystack. The right word and right illustration communicates perfectly what the many wrong words will never do.
B. Accurate words are:
1. Written to objectify the truth. Write: khatuv, to record, to mark down.
2. Words of truth, reflect the Character of God. Words of truth, div'rei emet, "let him who has My word speak My word in truth (Jer 23:28).
3. Accurate to God’s will. Yoshar, noun straightness, uprightness. Accuracy (the godly teacher), clarity (the good teacher), and creativity (the great teacher) make up a teacher of the word; but above all accuracy. He did not confuse truth with dullness (10a) but wrote "in an attractive style" (JB). Though it tempts all popular speakers and writers, we musn't trade in accuracy for creativity (2 Tim 2:15).
III. The Work of Appropriation, 12:11. The words of the wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.
This is about getting the ball across the goal line: the results of the word.
A. Intensify: They motivate to live faithfully –like a farmer’s goads: sharp sticks that farmers use to motivate the ox to pull the plow. They provoke others unto love and goods deeds (Heb 10:24). Wise teachings are to goad their readers to action.
B. Clarify: They focus to live steadfastly –like a carpenter’s well-driven nails The teaching should stabilize them to persevere in God’s word throughout life: To master (Baali) is to possess, own and have these collected wise words of God (the Scriptures) integrated in your soul, as part of your value system and thought process. Those who have mastered these collections of wisdom are like well-driven, (literally) planted, firmly established nails. You can hang a picture on, or hold a fellowship together. They are not the crooked nails which result from my hammering. But these are nailed straight and firm. They incisively, decisively speak the truth in love and refute the gainsayers. These masters are founded upon a rock (Mat 7:24-25). These should be planted by living waters and firmly established in the truth (Psalm 1:2-3).
C. Glorify: They unify to live agreeably, like a shepherd gathering a flock. The teaching should gather them to follow the One Shepherd forever. A master is a mature teacher of the word who rightly divides the word of truth. There may be many masters, but there is only One Shepherd. All masters learn the truth of His word; therefore all glorify the One Shepherd (Chagigah 3b). We are to convey His values and vision to the flock. Proverbs, Isaiah, Deuteronomy, Mark, Revelation - all are from One Shepherd. If the flock is to move forward in unity, He alone can be our focus. I believe this verse conveys God's inspiration for the Wisdom writers, their equivalent to "thus saith the Lord." There is some dispute over the precise translation but none over the basic claim. The wise draw their wisdom from the Shepherd of Israel, the one true God (Gen 49:24; Psalm 23:1; 80:1).