- 1 Kings 4:29-34 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man, including Ethan the Ezrahite-wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five.
- He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles, and fish. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.
- Ancient Hebrew writers approached these three books as they did God’s temple. Ecclesiastes was considered the outer court, and the book of Proverbs was considered the inner court, and the Song of Solomon was considered as the Holy of Holies!
- There is no other book like this in the Bible! Therefore, we have nothing to compare it to, yet God put this book right here in the middle of Psalms, Proverbs and the Song of Solomon.
- As far as background goes, Solomon wrote this closer to the end of his life than the beginning. Meaning, that this book was written close to the time, if not during the time he was being turned away from his true faith by his foreign wives.
- The key to understanding Solomon’s search for the meaning of life is to see his search being done outside the scope of God. He is trying to find the meaning of life from an intellectual or logical approach using only what exists in this time world.
- In other words, this is a philosophical treaty on life apart from God, whose conclusions is that apart from God there is no meaning.
- The phrase: "Under the Sun" is used 29 times and defines his search limits.
- The phrase: "I thought in my heart" points to his evaluating life based only on his intelligence.
- The word "meaningless" is used 35 times, pointing to the fact that pursuing life apart from God is empty and in vain.
- Bottom-line, Solomon was looking for the meaning of life apart from God or from an eternal perspective.
- PROLOGUE (1:1-11)
- SOLOMON’S PURSUIT OF LIFE— ITS WISDOM AND ITS PLEASURES (Ch. 1-2)
- SOLOMON’S CONCLUSIONS ON LIFE (Ch. 3-12)
- EPILOGUE (12:9-14)
The Great Experiment on behalf of all humanity!
- Eccl 2:1-11 I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless. "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?" I tried cheering myself with wine and embracing folly-my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.
- I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well-the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
- I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that, my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
- In one sense, this is the greatest research project ever done on behalf of mankind. Here's a man gifted with gift of wisdom from God himself, rich beyond our wildest dreams, and has both the time and freedom to pursue his heart's desires!
- This of course frees us from the burden of having to repeat his research in our own way, for we know now, based on his conclusion, that apart from God there is no meaning in life.
- So then, what amazing relevant message do we have here, that we can use today? Answer: Apart from God, we on our own merits cannot find meaning. We need God to have meaning in our lives!
- Solomon's sums it all up in Eccl 12:13-14 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
- The New Testament perspective confirms this by proclaiming: Christ alone satisfies the longings of our heart and in him alone can we find satisfaction and fulfillment!
- In conclusion, my prayer when considering this book is please God, let me learn what Solomon spent his whole life learning, that nothing apart from Jesus can satisfy the hole in our soul!
- Let us do a quick review of what we have learned from the books of wisdom. First as seen through the book of Job, God’s people need a sense of the awesomeness of God's power and might in such a way that it creates within them a true sense of humility!
- Secondly, through the Psalms, Israel learned that they could have deep intimate communication with God that is earmarked by freedom, honesty, worship, and song.
- Thirdly, through the book of Ecclesiastes, they discovered that the true purpose of life and satisfaction can only be found in God!
- This brings us to Wisdom’s fourth book, the book of Proverbs. As we are going to see, God wants his people to be blessed with divine wisdom that expresses itself in how they conduct every aspect of their lives! This includes their relationships, their character, their work ethic, their friendships, how they handle their money, their marriages, their children, and how they relate to society at large.
The Purpose of Proverbs:
- Basically, the book of Proverbs is made up of six collections of Proverbs, wisdom sayings that are meant to offer guidance to the young, although their value is by no means limited to any age group.
- These Proverbs all have in mind one purpose, and that is to teach us how to live morally and beneficially in the world.
- Purpose of the proverbs: Chapter 1:1-6
- Sets the scene: Proverbs to the youth: Chapter 1:8-9:18
- The proverbs of Solomon 1: Chapter 10:1-22:16
- The sayings of the Wise 1: Chapter 22:17-24:22
- The sayings of the Wise 2: Chapter 24:23-24:34
- The proverbs of Solomon 2: Chapter 25:1-29:27
- The sayings of Agur: Chapter 30:1-30:33
- The words of Lemuel: Chapter 31: 1-31:31
General Principals regarding the book of proverbs:
- The preamble prepares you for reading the book, which is to grow in Godly wisdom.
- Throughout the book, you will see a basic contrast being made between the wisdom and folly, which is also a contrast between righteousness and wickedness.
- All the proverbs need to be studied in the light of the prologue which is to attain wisdom and reject folly! In other words, to walk in righteousness and to shun evil.
- The fundamental theological perspective of this book: Prov 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
- It’s important to remember that these sayings expressed general truths without attempting to explain them, so don't become too literal in your interpretation of them.
- They are universal in their application! We can say this because Israel is not mentioned specifically in these writings.
- It is important to realize that proverbs are generalizations, in that they express the normal course of events. There or however always exceptions. It is also important to note that these are not promises.
- One of the best ways to study Proverbs, is to get a concordance and search specific topics such as anger, money or even something like friendships.
- The very last chapter of the book of Proverbs is a poem that idealizes a wife who is characterized by all the wisdom portrayed in this book.
- This lesson poem is unique in that it is also an acrostic point, meaning each verse begins with a succeeding letter of the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet and each point displays or exhibits the wisdom of the entire book of Proverbs. What a fitting way to end this book!-
III. Song of Songs
- The Song of Songs is also an incredibly unique biblical book. As one scholar put it; Without a mention of God and written in marvelous poetry, using very evocative and vivid imagery, it is at the very least a celebration of sexual love, and marital fidelity between a woman and a man.
- There have been many different interpretations to this book simply because it is written in such a way that you can read it many ways.
- Significantly, this story has always been interpreted by Israel as the love between Israel and God! Meaning, that this book can be read allegorically!
- In view of this, C.P. Schmitt interprets this book as being a story of three individuals! Charles Schmidt writes… In his old age... Solomon looks back at all the women he had and nothing satisfied him... but one relationship stands out... and he writes a song about it... his greatest song!
- On his way to his summer house up north... he passes through a local town where he saw a young lady that his followers had seen doing a local dance.
- And they were so enthralled with her... that they brought her before King Solomon to do the dance for him.
- And as he watched this beautiful maiden do her dance... he fell deeply in love with her... and began trying to convince her... almost by force... to go with him... to his summer palace. He was hoping to woo her into his Harlem of one thousand women and become 1001.
- But he found out... probably for the first time in his life... she did not want him... she was not for sale.
- The reason why... was that her heart had already been taken by another, a shepherd... and try as Solomon would... he could not win her.
- And eventually had to release her... letting her go in admiration of the purest, greatest love he had ever seen. Her unwavering, faithful love that was captured by her shepherd!
- Obviously, this story fits well within the New Testament picture for Jesus. In the book of John Jesus declares himself to be the great Shepherd who loves his people enough to lay down his life for them.
- Some scholars feel Paul, was inspired by Song of Solomon 4:7 when he wrote; Eph 5:25-28 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
- The New Testament obviously sees the shepherd as Christ and the Church as his bride to be. Going back to the Song of Solomon, this then makes Solomon a type of the carnality of the world and the pomp of the Babylonian system which is out to seduce God's church from her lover, the great shepherd!
- But according to this story, even though the world might want to rip us away from Jesus our shepherd, our heart and love for him is unwavering!
- The Song of Solomon, there are 8 chapters, which make up 5 movements in this drama.
- The maiden refers to Solomon as “the King,” but to her lover as “my beloved.” Both Solomon and the Shepherd refer to her as “my love.” These designations help identify the speaker and of whom they speak.
1. Love’s restless captivity (1:2-2:7)
2. Love’s faltering fears (2:8-3:5)
3. Love’s great conflict (3:6.5:1)
4. Love’s final choice (5:2-8:4)
5. Loves endless triumph (8:5.14) Together at last!
- What better way to highlight the wisdom of God than by having us focusing on Love. Paul certainly affirms this in the New Testament:
- 1 Cor 13:1-3 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
- In other words, Love is what gives meaning to our lives. Yes, faith does too, and yes, hope does also, but…
- 1 Cor 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
- Meaning, that Love becomes the highest ideal and the very essence of all we are called to do, which is why Paul says; 1 Cor 14:1 Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it — because it does.
In conclusion of the books of wisdom: This ends our study of the books of wisdom: humility, worship, purpose, wisdom, and love are the great earmarks of God’s people!