This psalm shows us a great contrast between the righteous and the wicked. David turns to God for his help (v. 1). Why? David says the godly and the faithful have ceased and are no more. I do not understand this to be an absolute statement, but a poetic statement where it seems he sees no righteous people around. Indeed, righteous people existed then (and today), for God always has His “7000” (I Kings 19:18; Rom. 11:3-4)! Yet, David cries out in sorrow about the words of the wicked (v. 2).
He quickly understands, though, that “the Lord shall cut them off” (v. 3). Do we ever get downtrodden? Do we think that the world is so far gone that it is beyond help? Have we ever asked where God is during these times? If you have, then let David answer these questions in Psalm 12.
The words of the wicked sound mighty and intimidating, but I must remember that God’s words are “pure words, as silver… purified seven times” (v. 6). This means God’s word is without a speck of imperfection. It is without a hint of error! Remember that “seven” symbolizes that which is perfect or complete. Therefore, if God’s word is like “silver … purified seven times,” we can be assured there is no error to be found here! Man will lie and change facts to suit himself or to make himself look good. God changes nothing! His very word is truth (Jn. 17:17) and needs no change! We need to listen to it above anything a man might tell us!
Finally, the wicked men roam or walk when the vilest are exalted (v. 8). Sadly, this seems to be the lot of men who live on earth. God speaks, but His word is ignored by the wicked. Wicked men roam, walk, or strut when the vile are exalted. We see examples of this daily! Solomon lamented the same thing in his writings (ex: Prov. 14:34; etc.). Yet, let us remember that God is still on His throne. His pure word is with us. One day, there will be a reckoning of these things (I Thess. 4:13-17; II Thess. 1:6-9). Where will you be when that happens?
Yes, we sympathize with David’s concern, but we also know there is hope in Christ (Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:27; I Pet. 1:3; I Jn. 3:3)! Let us focus on this, and let us tell others about the hope and joy we have in the Lord (Mk. 16:16; II Tim. 2:2).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). God had to deal with false teachers in this time, trying to assure the people of “peace and safety” when no such thing was coming. Not in the immediate future, anyway! Jeremiah would face the false teacher, Hananiah, in Jeremiah 28, who claimed God would return the people from Babylon in “two full years” rather than the actual 70 years God had said (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10; Dan. 9:2)! Again, here is a man trying to proclaim “Peace” and “Everything will be all right” (NET) when that wasn’t the case at all.
Why might men like Hananiah and others want to tell people such falsehoods as “peace peace”? Could it be they thought men might pay them more to hear the pleasant message? Maybe they thought they would be more popular with the people? We know a message of victory and winning is much more popular than a message saying that we will lose! Jeremiah had the unenviable task of telling Judah that the best thing for them to do is give up and accept the punishment and be patient for 70 years (Jer. 27:1-11)! Who wants to have that job?
Jeremiah had an unpopular job, but it was for the best. His message was from God (Jer. 28:9, 15-17); the others’ messages were not. In like manner, we face an uphill battle because “Peace, peace” is the more popular message! Just as in Jeremiah’s day, Paul warned of people who would “not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Does this sound like the attitude we see among people today? Yes, it is alive well today, just as it was in days gone by!
We must make a choice. Will we listen to those who call and cry for “peace” when there is no peace? Yes, we ought to strive for peace with God and peace among others (Matt. 5:9). Yet, remember that Christ said His kingdom would bring a “sword” among the closest of family (Matt. 10:21-22, 34-39). There is no “peace” to be had between God and Satan. They are diametrically opposed, as are their teachings (II Cor. 6:14-17). Let us stop trying to be a friend of God and a friend of the world when this is impossible (Jas. 4:4). It is high time we spoke the message of the Lord, that will hurt some, but bring healing to all in the end, as Paul did on the ship (Acts 27:10). At Ephesus, Paul said he spent three years preaching “all the counsel of God” and warning people, “night and day with tears” (Acts 20:27, 31). I wonder why Paul was crying? I wonder if he made those listening cry sometimes? What if it was a little of both? Why would Paul preach a message that caused people to “cry,” that made people “tremble” (Acts 24:25), and that caused some to run him out of town (Acts 17:10-15)? Wouldn’t it have been easier just to tell people, “peace, peace”? We could ask Jeremiah the same question. Isn’t it easier to just say, “peace, peace”?
We know what is easier to say, but it does not mean it is a better message. The best message is the message that comes from the Lord (Jn. 17:17). The best message is the one that has not been diluted by men’s thoughts and feelings (Gal. 1:6-10). The best message is the message that tells us what to do to be saved and then encourages us to continue to be faithful to God (Acts 2:37-38; I Cor. 15:58; Matt. 7:13-14)!
“Peace, peace” is, in our vernacular, sugar-coating the truth! As a friend of mine says, if you want sugar-coating, eat a doughnut! If you want the truth, listen to the Lord’s words (I Pet. 4:11; Jn. 17:17), and be ready to repent and to obey (Jas. 1:22-25)! Jeremiah preached the truth, but people didn’t want to hear this and were destroyed. You and I have a chance to listen to God’s word and obey (Ecc. 12:13). What will you do? Now is the time to decide!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Solomon’s writing, we read, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all” (Ecc. 9:11). In a world where many believe in “fate,” astrology, and predestination, we must remember that there are some things that are completely random and out of our control. “Time and chance” happens to people on this earth. Your decisions are not “written in the stars.” Your future is not fixed. You have choices to make and will suffer the consequences of your and others’ choices in this life.
On this earth, we see that there is such a thing as being at the “right place at the right time.” Folks are fortunate at times, having access to something or someone that others do not. “Timing” is essential in this life. Being one second early or one second late can make all the difference, sometimes! This is what Solomon was saying in that passage.
This is why in addition to being at the “right place at the right time,” one could also be at the “wrong place at the wrong time”! Someone may be at a place they ought not be or associated with people they ought not be (Ps. 1:1-3), and the results can be disastrous. Still, others can be at the “right place at the wrong time.”
Or they can be at the “wrong place at the right time”! Oh, the irony of life on earth! Yes, “time and chance” happens to all of us.
You can’t control your DNA, who your parents are, where you were born, or the circumstances of your childhood. Why were you born in this country, in this state, in this county, in this town, etc.? “Time and chance happeneth” to all of us!
We can look at circumstances and complain about what is fair and not fair, or we can get the proper perspective that Solomon has given us. “Time and chance” happens to us, but there are still some things we control. There are still some decisions we make that are truly ours.
What kind of decisions can we make that are not dependant upon “time and chance”? We can decide for ourselves whether or not we will be saved (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; etc.). We can decide if we will resist or yield to temptation (Jas, 1:14-15, 4:7). We can control our attitude toward self and others. These are things we can control in a world filled with things that are unknown.
We make decisions daily in the hope that we will make the best decisions based upon our wisdom and experience. Yet, we can never account for the unknown. “Time and chance” continues to loom large in our lives. This is why we say, “if the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that” (Jas. 4:15).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“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” (Ecc. 9:9). Solomon made it clear that a wise thing for a man to do is to spend time living joyfully with his wife. He taught this here and in Proverbs 5:18-19 and 18:22.
Too many people live in joyless marriages. For whatever reason, the spouses do not come home to joy or happiness like they once did. What happened to them? While blame might be found with both people, perhaps in the simplest terms, we have forgotten how to live joyfully with our spouse!
God instituted marriage in Genesis 2. “It is not good that man should be alone,” He said (Gen. 2:18). Thus, God made a “help” fitting for a man when He made the woman. She is his physical complement, as well as his mental, emotional, and spiritual complement. These two were made to encourage and help one another. In I Peter 3:7, God intended husband and wife to be “heirs together of the grace of life.” In other words, we are partners and companions on this earth, and part of our work is helping one another go to Heaven! How can there not be joy in a marriage when we try to help and encourage one another to go to the place of eternal joy?
Why should a man listen to Solomon and “live joyfully” with his wife? Let’s consider a few reasons.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she chose you! She could have married someone else, but she agreed to marry you and travel the road of life with you.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because even when she makes mistakes, she has your best interest in mind.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she has bore your children and loves them. A new generation knows about Jesus thanks to “the wife of thy youth” (Prov. 5:18, 31:10-21).
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she is the closest earthly relationship you have. Ephesians 5:22-33 tells the husband to love his wife “as his own body.”
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because you will have no better friend on earth.
It might seem odd that a man with 700 wives and 300 concubines (I Kings 11:3) would encourage men to “live joyfully” with one wife (Ecc. 9:9). Some might suggest that it took such an extreme measure for Solomon to appreciate what God had provided from the beginning! Regardless of what right or wrong decisions Solomon made in his life, remember that this man was endowed with wisdom above all others on earth by God (I Kings 3:12, 4:30-31, 5:12). The Holy Spirit also inspired him in his writing (II Pet. 1:20-21). As a result, there is something we can learn and apply when we read Solomon’s words. He is not only telling us the wise way to go, but he is also saying, in essence, “don’t do what I did!” Isn’t this the kind of advice we need? We need someone who has already traveled the path to come back and warn us about what we ought to do and not do. Solomon’s decision in this area of life serves as this warning to all.
Let’s listen to the words of the Preacher and live “joyfully” with our spouse (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The last part of Ecclesiastes 9:4 says that “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” What I find interesting is that in the days of Solomon, dogs were not “man’s best friend.” They were not considered pets but nuisances. Lions, on the other hand, were exalted and symbols of royalty. In those days, if one had the option, a regal-looking lion would be much preferred over some mutt dog. Yet, Solomon observed a living dog is still better than a dead lion.
What does such a statement mean? It is similar to our saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Put simply, it means that there are times when we are better off getting what is available, what is possible, instead of the things only wished for. We could say it this way: Take advantage of the opportunities you have instead of waiting for things that might never come!
I believe some folks are guilty of hoping for that “dead lion” when they think they will wait for a “convenient” time to be saved. Felix maintained this attitude (Acts 24:25), and though seeing Paul for over two years (v. 27), he never found a “convenient” time! Are we like this? Some wish to wait on their obedience to the Lord until they “know more” or until they have accomplished some goal. I know of people who said they needed more Bible knowledge before they could be saved. To these people, I asked, “You know the Lord’s plan of salvation and you know that you are in sin and need to be saved. At this point, what else do you need to know?” A living dog is better than a dead lion, friends!
Some will not tell others the truth about salvation and Jesus because they are afraid they do not know enough. They are concerned that some question might be asked of them that they cannot answer. Many are fearful of any type of “confrontation.” I think there is a large percentage of Christians who don’t wish to talk to people who are not like them -- whether racially, the same economic status, etc. What ultimately happens is that no teaching gets done, and a generation is lost in a Devil’s Hell. To these people, I say: “A living dog is better than a dead lion”! We are wasting our opportunities looking for the “perfect” opportunity, the “perfect” person, etc. Listen, those are not coming in that form. We need to understand that the “perfect” is only “perfect” in hindsight. Our opportunities to teach someone about the Lord doesn’t come wrapped in a pretty bow! They come to us at the bank and the grocery store. They come to us when we are dirty and sweaty from working, and with our children at night when we are tired. Opportunities to teach about Christ come to us looking like a flawed and failed person who is in sin and needs Christ. This person has sinned and has emotional or other types of “baggage” and regrets. It is these people who need to cast their care on Christ (I Pet. 5:7) but can’t do it until they are introduced to Him. What are we doing to help these people? Where is the love for our neighbor (Matt. 22:39)? Are we so busy waiting for “dead lions” that we are missing the “living dogs?”
Take a moment for true self-examination (II Cor. 13:5). What opportunities and who are we overlooking in our vain pursuits? The dead lion offers nothing for you. Stop wasting time on the impossible and accept and work with what is real and true! The blessings are sometimes right under our noses. We need to get them out of the clouds and down where we can focus on what is instead of what is not.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs