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
Jeremiah is well-known for being “the weeping prophet.” Passages such as Jeremiah 4:19, 9:1, 13:16-17, and 14:17 make it clear that this description was well-earned. Make no mistake; his crying was not because he was some wimpy, weak character. He was not crying for fear, or some selfish reason, or because he was ashamed. Instead, he wept over the sins of the people of Israel. Similarly, we see Jesus doing this when He was on earth. In fact, He was referred to as the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37; Luke 19:41; John 11:35).
Jeremiah wept over the sins of the people. I suggest that the language he uses shows he thought himself unable to cry a sufficient amount over the sins committed in his land. In Jeremiah 9:1, it is written, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
Compare Jeremiah’s attitude toward sin with the “majority’s” attitude. Let me also challenge you to compare how the brethren act toward sin today with how Jeremiah acted toward sin in his day. Jeremiah wanted to cry and wished his eyes could be a “fountain” to cry over the sins committed by God’s people continually. He understood that sin was not a joke or a game. Sin is not a myth or something made up to scare children into behaving. Sin is real, and it is deadly (Jas. 1:15)! The passage that teaches us that “Fools make a mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9) is still true!
Why did Jeremiah weep over the people’s sin? All one has to do is look into Scripture and see how God describes sin to know why it is a cause for crying. Below are four descriptions. God describes sin as:
- An indelible stain (Isa. 1:18)
- A heavy weight (Heb. 12:1)
- A trespass (Eph. 2:1)
- Putrifying sores (Isa. 1:6)
How could this not make us cry if we saw someone in this condition physically (stained, wounded, filled with sores, etc.)? Though we cannot see the spiritual effects of sin, when God looks upon us, He sees it! We see the effects of sin when we see the physical results. When we see the drug addict and the wino, when we see the person who has STDs or suffering from the torture of having killed a baby through abortion, we see the effects of sin in people’s lives. When we see the person who is racked with guilt because he has stolen from others or has been abusive to a child or spouse, we see someone suffering with the consequences of sin. Our jails are filled with those who broke man’s law, but if we look closely, many have also broken God’s law!
I say this not with arrogance, but in the spirit of Jeremiah – how we might wish our heads were waters and our eyes were a fountain of tears to be able to weep over what we see in our generation in this country! Oh that we might weep over the sins committed by brethren at times! We have Christians that ought to know better, but they still commit sins before God. Let us remember that sin is as deadly for the Christian as for the non-Christian (Ezek. 18:20; Jas. 1:15). It is not a game or a joke and will lead us to Hell finally if we do not repent. Is that not another reason that tears might flow? Let them flow for the ones who seem determined to go to Hell and will not make a change (Matt. 7:13)!
God stands ready and willing to accept those who will come to Him (Matt. 11:28-30; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; II Pet 3:9; Rev. 22:14). Who will do it? Should not this fact motivate us to go and find those who are lost and bring them to the Lord before it is too late? Let us be encouraged to find them! Let our tears not cause us to quit, but through tears, let us be motivated with an urgency to tell lost souls about the Lord before it is too late!
Jeremiah teaches us that there is no shame in weeping when we are weeping over the right things!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When we listen to some speak about Jehovah, we hear folks voice an opinion that says that the God described in the Old Testament is vengeful, petty, harmful, and seemed to have taken delight in looking for ways to punish His creation. In contrast, these same people seem to think that the God of the New Testament is a different person or different character. We are told that the New Testament God is patient, loving, kind, full of mercy, etc., and supposedly stands in contrast with the God of the first 39 books of the Bible.
Is this true? While it is undeniable that God exacted punishment against sinners at times. We also know that He called for His people to go to war with the wicked and other things because Israel lived under a theocracy for 1500 years. However, does this mean He was strictly a vengeful God? Did He never show mercy? While we can choose to focus on only one aspect of God’s character, this is not fair to God nor the text of Scripture!
One great example of God’s mercy is seen in Jeremiah 3. Notice the words spoken by God to His people, and see God’s patience and forgiveness! After naming the people’s sins and their consequences, God told them (through Jeremiah), “turn thou unto me” (Jer. 3:7). Again, God says, “Return, thou backsliding Israel … and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever” (Jer. 3:12). He called for the people to “turn” and He would bring them back to their former glory and more (Jer. 3:14-18). Add to this Psalm 136, and we see that, yes, God is gracious and forgiving. This nature has never changed (Mal. 3:6). Friends, these statements are not contradictory but agree with the image of God described in Acts 17:30-31, I Timothy 2:4, James 4:7-8, II Peter 3:9, John 3:16, and numerous other New Testament passages.
“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). I believe this passage sums up God very well. There is severity, but there is also goodness. There is mercy, and there is also judgment (Matt. 7:21-23). Let us appreciate this truth about God. Let us be thankful we have a God who loves us, and at the same time, will not allow sin to go unpunished.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The Preacher wrote to an innumerable company of young people (including us) and stated, “If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct” (Ecc. 10:10, KJV).
Other versions state this passage as:
- “If you don't sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use; if you are smart, you'll know what to do” (Common English Version).
- “If your ax is dull and you don't sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead” (Good News Bible).
- “If an ax is blunt and the edge isn't sharpened, then one has to use more strength. But wisdom prepares the way for success” (“God’s Word”).
- “If an iron axhead is blunt and a workman does not sharpen its edge, he must exert a great deal of effort; so wisdom has the advantage of giving success” (New English Translation).
The point of this proverb is to remind people that preparation goes a long way in bringing success. We have heard the statement about folks having to do things “the hard way.” How true this is! Some are convinced that if the ax is not cutting well enough, the answer is to hit harder! Solomon says the wise person plans ahead to sharpen the ax, and then the work goes easier.
In this section of Ecclesiastes, we see other examples of Solomon telling us that preparation is critical (Ecc. 10:11a, 15, 18). Remember, if we don’t take time to sharpen the “ax,” we’ll work harder than necessary to get the work done. Preparation, planning, or forethought, makes our lives much easier! The fool doesn’t see this. The fool strolls blindly through life and then wonders why bad things befall him (Ecc. 10:14-15). The wise understand that we are the result of our decisions!
In Ecclesiastes 10:10, we are reminded that foolishness will make us work harder than we need to work. If a man takes the time to prepare for his work and do what is necessary, his work goes faster and easier. I am reminded of the old statement: “Work smarter, not harder.” I used to think that was a silly statement, because how can you work “smart” without also working “hard”? I have since learned better and see the wisdom in the statement. It is truly a reflection of Ecclesiastes 10:10!
The spiritual application of Ecclesiastes 10:10 is quite simple. Are we going to listen to the wisdom of Solomon? There is an eternity of “hardship” that awaits the unprepared (Matt. 25:41-46; II Thess. 1:6-9)! If we want a peaceful and joyous eternity in the presence of God, then let us prepare and do the work now (II Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-8, 15)! Someone said, “A soldier is not wasting his time when he is sharpening his sword.” How much time do we spend sharpening our “sword”? In other words, how much time do we spend with the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) and learning what God wants us to do while on earth (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15)? How much time do we spend purposely preparing our souls for Heaven by spending time in prayer (I Thess. 5:17)? How much time do we spend living Philippians 4:8-9; Matthew 7:12-14; and Mark 16:15-16?
Our lives are much harder with a dull ax! Wisdom says to sharpen it! What will you do?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
I Samuel 16:7 tells us that God does not see things the way man does (Ps. 139:2). There is no denying this fact if we know anything about the Bible and what it reveals about the mind of God. Today, instead of writing a long article detailing the teaching in these verses, I thought I would make a chart that contrasts God’s wisdom with man’s wisdom.
Please study the chart below. Note the contrasts between God’s wisdom and man’s, and then decide who you will follow.
A good name is better than riches (v. 1).
Riches are the most important thing -- better than one’s reputation.
Our death day is better than our birthday (v. 1).
The day of death is the worst day of one’s life (with only a few exceptions, such as an incurable, painful disease).
The house of mourning is better than the house of feasting (v. 2).
Feasting is better than mourning.
Sorrow is better than laughter (v. 3).
Laughter is better than sorrow.
Wise men are in the house of mourning (v. 4).
Wise men are in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the wise man’s rebuke (v. 5).
It is better to hear encouragement.
The laughter of fools is as vain as expecting thorns to provide heat (v. 6).
The laughter of fools is to be desired.
Accepting bribes will corrupt you (v. 7)
There is nothing wrong with getting money “under the table” from time to time.
The end of a thing is better than the beginning (v. 8).
The beginning is better than the end.
The patient is better than the proud (v. 8).
Being proud is better than being patient.
Be slow to anger. Anger rests with the fools (v. 9; Jas. 1:19).
Becoming angry and “cracking heads” gets things done.
Don’t live in the past (v. 10).
The “good ol’ days” are better than what we have today.
This list from Ecclesiastes 7 teaches us much. Notice how these Bible facts from Ecclesiastes show that man’s ideas stand polar opposite to God’s intent. I find it interesting that the apostle Paul taught a very similar thing in I Corinthians 1:18-31 when he spoke of the preaching of the cross.
The ultimate question we must answer is: To whom will we listen? Will we listen to the world and follow “conventional wisdom” or listen to God and turn man’s wisdom on its head? Remember what David said about God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100)? Listen to him! At the end of the day, we must decide for ourselves, and must face the consequences of that decision. As for me and my house, we want to listen to God. Who will you follow, friend?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs