1885.) Ecclesiastes 5

July 22, 2016

Someday I hope to worship God here, in the Basilique Notre-Dame, Montreal.

Ecclesiastes 5 (New Living Translation)

Approaching God with Care

John 4:19-23 (New International Version)

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

1 As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. 2Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.

“Sunday morning worship begins Saturday night,” my husband’s father used to tell him. Prepare yourself for church! Get to bed at a decent time to be well-rested for the next morning. Spend time in prayer for your pastor and the Sunday morning leaders, for your own heart to be open to the Word of God, for new-comers to be welcomed to the house of the Lord! Welcome the Holy Spirit to be at work in your congregation and your worship service!

3 Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.

4 When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. 6 Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.  7 Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.

Hebrews 10:19-22 (New International Version)

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.



HERE  is Michael W. Smith and “Here I am to worship.”


The Futility of Wealth

8 Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. 9Even the king milks the land for his own profit! 10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.

– Everett Dirksen

A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.

– W.C. Fields

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.

– Charles Dickens

12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.

Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.

– William A. Ward

13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14 Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.

16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.

– Robert Orben

I don’t care too much for money / For money can’t buy me love.

– The Beatles

There are people who have money and people who are rich.

– Coco Chanel

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.


New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Notre-Dame.  http://i1.trekearth.com/photos/100974/nd_-_trekearth1.jpg
church sign.    http://www.verumserum.com/media/2007/12/times-church-sign_4.jpg
“no guilt . . .”   http://rodiagnusdei.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/no-fear-in-death.jpeg?w=189&h=267
fighting about money.    http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/10000/velka/1210-1242160343u74V.jpg
dollar sign.   http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/bRT/dzb/bRTdzbbi9.jpeg
cartoon, “you can’t take it”   http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/bfr/lowres/bfrn121l.jpg

1884.) Ecclesiastes 4

July 21, 2016

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” — Lily Tomlin

Ecclesiastes 4 (New Living Translation)

 1 Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless. 2 So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living. 3 But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun.

4 Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

5 “Fools fold their idle hands,
leading them to ruin.”

Proverbs 6:6-11 (Good News Translation)

Lazy people should learn a lesson from the way ants live. They have no leader, chief, or ruler, but they store up their food during the summer, getting ready for winter. How long is the lazy man going to lie around? When is he ever going to get up?
         I’ll just take a short nap, he says;
         I’ll fold my hands and rest a while.
But while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber.

6 And yet,

“Better to have one handful with quietness
than two handfuls with hard work
and chasing the wind.”

The Advantages of Companionship

7 I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. 8This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing. 9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

When my father married his second wife, Thelma, he was 86 and she was 81. The pastor preached a wedding sermon on numbers:  In a marriage, he said, 1 + 1 = 1, because “the two shall become one.” Then, 1 + 1 = 2, because you have two different personalities in any marriage. Then, 1 + 1 = 3, because with God, a marriage can be a picture of Christ and the Church, a truly whole and loving relationship. All of which is to say:  Christ is the third cord.

Another picture:  my husband and his business partner recently went to an important business meeting. A dear friend prayed for him to remember that “Christ is the host at that meeting table.” Again, Christ is the third cord.

How wonderfully encouraging this idea can be! Where in your life can you thank Christ for being your third cord? Where in your life can you invite him to be your third cord?

The Futility of Political Power

 13 It is better to be a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who refuses all advice. 14 Such a youth could rise from poverty and succeed. He might even become king, though he has been in prison. 15 But then everyone rushes to the side of yet another youth who replaces him. 16 Endless crowds stand around him, but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.


We all know that country music songs can tell wonderful stories, and  HERE  is one that lines up, kinda sorta, with Ecclesiastes. “Awful, Beautiful Life”  by Darryl Worley.


New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
rat race.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/rat-race1.jpg
ants at work.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/ants2.jpg
Ecclesiastes 4:12.   http://hebrewbible.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/ecclesiastes-4_12.gif
number 3.     http://www.astrogle.com/images/articles/numerology/number-3.gif

1883.) Ecclesiastes 3

July 20, 2016

Ecclesiastes 3 (New Living Translation)

A Time for Everything

1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.

2 A time to be born and a time to die.


A time to plant and a time to harvest.


3 A time to kill and a time to heal.


Eccle3 building
A time to tear down and a time to build up.


4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.


A time to grieve and a time to dance.


5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.


A time to embrace and a time to turn away.


Eccle3 search

6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.


A time to keep and a time to throw away.


“Gabrielle Mending” by Pierre-August Renoir, 1908

7 A time to tear and a time to mend.


A time to be quiet and a time to speak.


A time to love and a time to hate.


“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth!”

A time for war and a time for peace.



HERE  Judy Collins sings. I love her serene and powerful voice. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by Pete Seeger.


9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw


Christians are to be people who love that which endures. The author of Ecclesiastes writes that God has put eternity within the human heart. This gift makes us yearn for life to be meaningful, so we are never content to give ourselves to that which will fade away. The eternal One has made us for the things that endure. Therefore, Christians will always be different. We can never simply run with the pack, giving ourselves to the things that pass away.

This longing for what is timeless and valuable causes people to reach for God because God is the eternal One. The Holy Spirit’s work is to produce eternal fruit in the character and lives of his people.

It is from the anointing of the Spirit that we find the power to live for the things that endure. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). This statement by Paul is the law of life.

Can you detect the difference between time and eternity? Have you found the power to give yourself to that which will endure? Even the most barren person who does so will be fruitful, and the most desolate person will know eternal joy.

14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.

We all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts, a longing for infinite love and beauty. Only God can fill that emptiness, but we tend to want to take the hunger pains away by filling the hole with substitutes–possessions and wealth, pleasure, power and prestige. We may feel satisfied for a while, but ultimately the restlessness and longing return.

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

–from Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

15 What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

The Injustices of Life

16 I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! 17I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”

18 I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. 19 For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! 20 Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust. 21 For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?

Yes, but Teacher, remember you told us that God has set eternity in our hearts! In that, we have a glimpse of life beyond this world!

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here! No one will bring us back from death to enjoy life after we die.

Here are some ideas to help us know how we can fruitfully work in a wicked world:

Luke 12:15 (Contemporary English Version)

Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”

Matthew 6:33 (New International Version)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be given to you as well.

Philippians 4:11-13 (English Standard Version)

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (Good News Translation)

We say this because we hear that there are some people among you who live lazy lives and who do nothing except meddle in other people’s business. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we command these people and warn them to lead orderly lives and work to earn their own living.

But you, friends, must not become tired of doing good.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
“for everything there is a season . . .” http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Ecclesiastes3_1.jpg
newborn baby. http://baby.more4kids.info/uploads/Image/Dec/swaddled-newborn.jpg
corn ready for harvest. http://triblocal.com/mchenry/files/cache/2010/10/00670161H21403320.jpg/460_345_resize.jpg
dog with bandaged leg. http://animal.kukuchew.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/bandaged-sick-dog.jpg
building (Habitat for Humanity in Hawaii).   http://dhhl.hawaii.gov/2013/09/13/dhhl-joins-habitat-for-build-a-thon-in-waimanalo/
crying.   http://media.photobucket.com/user/momacie/media/whywomencry.jpg.html?filters[term]=crying%20woman%20clipart%20reverse%20negative%20image&filters[primary]=images&filters[secondary]=videos&sort=1&o=0#/user/momacie/media/whywomencry.jpg.html?filters%5Bterm%5D=crying%20woman%20clipart%20reverse%20negative%20image&filters%5Bprimary%5D=images&filters%5Bsecondary%5D=videos&sort=1&o=0&_suid=1467748225475048090431739442846
old people (!) dancing. https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/oldpeopledancing.jpg
tower of stones. http://www.fbchamburg.com/images/stones.jpg
Welcome home, soldier! http://blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/newsnow/2007/10/20071002_JH_SOLDIER_04.jpg
search with magnifying glass.   http://www.clker.com/clipart-172636.html
garage sale. http://newsantaana.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Santa-Ana-garage-sale.gif
Renoir. http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/pierre-auguste-renoir/gabrielle-mending-1908
lips. http://redcaperevolution.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Are-you-too-quiet-1024×768.jpg
love your enemies. http://sassywire.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/love-your-enemy.png
star of Bethlehem.   http://sanantonioskywatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/star-of-bethlehem.jpg
Ecclesiastes 3:11. http://www.billybear4kids.com/desktop/wallpaper/scene-sets/christian/800×600/ecclesiastes3-11.jpg
God-shaped hole. https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/thegodshapedhole.jpg
try this. https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/trythisgreen.jpg

1882.) Ecclesiastes 2

July 19, 2016

Ecclesiastes 2 (New Living Translation)

The Futility of Pleasure

1 I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless.

The previous chapter showed the Teacher looking for the meaning of life in wisdom, and being frustrated. Now he tells us he will look for meaning in “the good things in life,” in pleasures of various sorts — but he tells us at the start what the outcome was: more disappointment and frustration.

2 So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” 3After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. 4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves.

7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. 8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!

9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

The Wise and the Foolish

12 So I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and madness (for who can do this better than I, the king?). 13 I thought, “Wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. 14 For the wise can see where they are going, but fools walk in the dark.” Yet I saw that the wise and the foolish share the same fate. 15 Both will die.

So I said to myself, “Since I will end up the same as the fool, what’s the value of all my wisdom? This is all so meaningless!” 16For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten. 17 So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

Roses, Late Summer

a poem by Mary Oliver

If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
unstinting happiness.

I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn’t mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.

Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses,
and then what.
Or any other foolish question.

The Futility of Work

Eccle2 futility

18 I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. 19 And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless! 20So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world. 21 Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy. 22 So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? 23 Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.

Job 7:1-10 (New International Version)

“Do not mortals have hard service on earth?
Are not their days like those of hired laborers?
Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,
or a hired laborer waiting to be paid,
so I have been allotted months of futility,
and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
my skin is broken and festering.

“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and they come to an end without hope.
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never see happiness again.
The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
you will look for me, but I will be no more.
As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
so one who goes down to the grave does not return.
He will never come to his house again;
his place will know him no more.”

24 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.



HERE  is Peggy Lee (1920-2002) and “Is That All There Is?”


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
the king is bored with pleasure. http://mightymag.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Ecclesiastes-2-1.jpg
Wealth demotivational poster.   http://demotivators.stores.yahoo.net/wealth.html
casket.   http://www.environmentalcaskets.com/
roses. http://immasmartypants.blogspot.com/2011/01/roses-late-summer-by-mary-oliver.html
exercise in futility.    http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMi04YTA3ODRhMDZlYzI0MTg4

1881.) Ecclesiastes 1

July 18, 2016

Ecclesiastes 1 (New Living Translation)

1 These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.

The author of this book has traditionally been assumed to be King Solomon — ironically, the man who had everything.

Everything Is Meaningless

2“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” 3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?

Mark 8:36 (NLT)

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. 8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

The Teacher is not alone in these thoughts:

“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.”

–Playwright Tennessee Williams

“Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.”

–Author George Orwell

9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

These are our questions!

How do I find meaning in life? History is boring and irrelevant to my present-day existence. If I work hard, there is no guarantee of success or even pleasure. Work, work, work, and the work is never done. I don’t like to think about death, but that is the only thing in my life I can be sure of! It all seems so pointless . . .

The Teacher Speaks: The Futility of Wisdom

12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. 14I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. 15 What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.

He is frustrated and despairing when he cannot make sense of his life.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” 17 So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.

18 The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief.
To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.

There may be nothing new under the sun; but thankfully the followers of Jesus – those born again by God’s Spirit – don’t live under the sun in that sense. Their life is filled with new things.

  • A new name (Isaiah 62:2, Revelation 2:17)
  • A new community (Ephesians 2:14)
  • A new help from angels (Psalm 91:11)
  • A new commandment (John 13:34)
  • A new covenant (Jeremiah 31:33, Matthew 26:28)
  • A new and living way to heaven (Hebrews 10:20)
  • A new purity (1 Corinthians 5:7)
  • A new nature (Ephesians 4:24)
  • A new creation in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • All things become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17, Revelation 21:5)

–David Guzik



I don’t want a meaningless life! “Lord, I offer my life to you,” by Don Moen, tells us  HERE  that only through Christ will we find eternal meaning and value in our lives.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
life in a meaningless world.   http://rockypc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ecclesiastes.png
Vanity of vanities. http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Ecclesiastes1_2.jpg
meaning of life cartoon. http://www.kurzweilai.net/cartoon-what-is-the-meaning-of-life
Nothing new. https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/nothingnew.jpg

1880.) Psalm 45

July 15, 2016

This psalm is a wedding hymn, honoring God, the king, and his princess bride.  We can also read it as a Messianic psalm, describing Jesus and his bride, the Church.

Psalm 45 (English Standard Version)

The excitement of a wedding day! Brides in beautiful gowns, an abundance of sweet-smelling flowers, nervous grooms and fathers waiting in the wings for the bride to make her entrance—and all are overflowing with a sense of expectancy that fills the air. The reason behind all of the extravagance, beyond the legal joining of two individuals together, is to celebrate a wonderful event and to capture it as something to remember for all time. This psalm is a celebration, both for the joy of the day and for the joy that is still to come.

–from ivpress.com

A fitting psalm after having read The Song of Solomon!

Your Throne, O God, Is Forever

1My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

2You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your splendor and majesty!

4In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
5Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.

6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;

7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.

from Tozer on the Holy Spirit,
edited by Marilynne E. Foster

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogancy and the evil way and the froward mouth, do I hate.
— Proverbs 8:13

Our attachment to the Person of Christ must exclude all that is contrary to Christ. These are the days when we are trying to be 100 percent positive. But the Scripture says of Jesus, “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness” (Psalm 45:7) . . . If He had to hate in order to love, so do you and I.

To be 100 percent positive would be as fatal as to inhale steadily all your life without exhaling. You can’t do that.

When the Church inhales the Holy Spirit she must exhale everything that is contrary to Him.

I don’t believe any man can love until he’s able to hate. I don’t think he can love righteousness unless he hates sin; for the Scripture leaves us with the belief that in order to accept there are some things you must reject. In order to affirm there are things you have to deny; in order to say yes you have to be able to say no.

Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

8your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Myrrh Resin

Myrrh Resin


The ad describes it as “a blend of warm sandalwood, spice with woods and liquid suede . . .”




Myrrh is a fragrant gum of an Arabian tree, generally used in perfumes. Aloes, a spice, may have come from sandalwood, a close-grained and fragrant wood often used for storage boxes or chests. Cassia was probably made from the flowers of the cinnamon tree. These expensive fragrances were appropriate for a king’s wedding. The location of Ophir is unknown, but believed to be in either Arabia or Africa. It was famous as a source of gold.

–from the notes on Psalm 45:8,9 in the Life Application Bible


Verses 8 and 9 describe a marriage service.  Traced for us here is a remarkable series of preparations. First, the groom has prepared himself. The writer says, All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. These are burial spices. You remember that when the women went to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning, they carried with them a quantity of spices–myrrh and aloes–in order to wrap the body of the Lord and preserve it in its death. And yet here these same spices are present at the wedding. What does this mean? This marriage is made possible out of death; somehow out of death comes this fragrant incense that makes glorious the scene of the wedding. You can see how beautifully this fits with what the apostle Paul describes for us in Ephesians 5:25 when he says that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. He died for it. He went into the bonds of death for us. Why? In order that He might present to Himself a glorious church, a beautiful bride, without spot or blemish or any such thing.

Then, he has prepared a place. We read of where this wedding is to take place: From palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. It is a picture of a beautiful place, and it reminds us immediately of Jesus’ words to His disciples before the cross. He said to them, I am going there to prepare a place for you (John 14:2). That place is being prepared now. It is a place of beauty and glory beyond any possible description. These terms used here are simply a way of suggesting to us what it is like: ivory palaces filled with music and gladness with a rejoicing company around.

And finally the bride herself is prepared: At your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir. In Oriental custom, the bridegroom himself, who paid for the golden dress, always presented this golden dress to the queen. This is also a wonderful picture for us. Who is it that is preparing us for this day, for this sharing of life together? It is He who is preparing us. He has clothed us with His own righteous golden robe. Gold, in Scripture, is always the picture of deity, and this is a hint of what Peter speaks of: You may participate, he says, in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Do you really grasp this? This is true! Jesus Christ is blending our lives with His and giving us all His position and all His privileges. All that belongs to Him belongs to us. One of the things that is most seriously wrong with the church today is that we are forgetting the privileges we have. We do not reckon on them, we do not think about how tremendous they are. Yet here stands the bride, ready to join Him, dressed in gold that He has provided.

–Ray Stedman

10Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father’s house,

11and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.

13All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
with her virgin companions following behind her.
15With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.

Revelation 19:6-9 (ESV)

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

(for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints).

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

16In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.


Ps45 bride


  • We are Christ’s bride. What promises do you see for yourself in this passage?
  • What kind of a response does seeing the majesty of Christ cause in your own life?



HERE  is a beautiful hymn for our beautiful Lord:  “Beautiful Savior,” arranged by F. Melius Christiansen. Conductor Emeritus Kenneth Jennings (1925-2015) leads over 900 choir alumni during the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the St. Olaf Choir in June of 2011.


English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
crown.    http://www.torchleader.com/tl/crown.jpg
love – hate.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/a00c3-love-hate.jpg
myrrh.   http://www.bellybytes.com/herbs/images/myrhh-resin.jpg
sandalwood scent in Stetson after shave.    http://www.fragrancex.com/images/products/SKU/big/MSTBLKAS2.jpg
cassia.    http://toptropicals.com/pics/garden/c19/1076.jpg
marriage supper.     http://media.photobucket.com/image/wedding%20supper%20of%20the%20Lamb/romanticjewly/TheWeddingSupper.jpg
bride.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/34/5f/ac/345fac6658765d80242e11125441ec2e.jpg

1879.) Song of Solomon 8

July 14, 2016

Song of Solomon 8   (NIV)


1 If only you were to me like a brother,
who was nursed at my mother’s breasts!
Then, if I found you outside,
I would kiss you,
and no one would despise me.
2 I would lead you
and bring you to my mother’s house—
she who has taught me.
I would give you spiced wine to drink,
the nectar of my pomegranates.
3 His left arm is under my head
and his right arm embraces me.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind,
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple
we should take him at his word,
and our lives would be all sunshine
in the sweetness of our Lord.

4 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.


5 Who is this coming up from the wilderness
leaning on her beloved?


Under the apple tree I roused you;
there your mother conceived you,
there she who was in labor gave you birth.
6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

LOVE IS . . . faithful.

True love is naturally true. Love wants to be faithful. It wants to give all of itself to one, not to disperse and divide itself upon many. 

Thus, “my bride is a garden locked, a fountain sealed” (Song 4:12). Love is sealed against intruders:  “Set me as a seal upon your heart” (Song 8:6).

It is impossible to give the whole of your self to more than one person. You cannot give the whole of yourself to a group of two or more. If you multiply the recipient, you divide the gift — and the giver. And a divided giver, a divided self, is a terrible thing, like a split personality. Only God can give the whole of himself to more than one, to each one of us, because God is in eternity in full perfection, and his love is without limits.

–from Three Philosophies of Life,  by Peter Kreeft



Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.

Dr. Rene Clausen is an American composer, conductor of The Concordia Choir and professor of music at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. His timeless composition, “Set Me as a Seal,” was performed  HERE  by The National Lutheran Choir on February 14, 2009 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

There is a story behind this particular piece of music:  Dr. Clausen and his wife had been trying for a child over five years’ time and had had four miscarriages. The fifth pregnancy was a success. At around six months a procedure called amniocentesis was done, where amniotic fluid is tested to make sure the child is healthy in a risky pregnancy. The doctor mistakenly hit the umbilical cord, resulting in the death of the baby. His wife had to birth the child — and after the intense labor of their lifeless child, Dr. Clausen wrote this piece. He said it took him only forty-five minutes to write it and he never made a change to it. “Love is strong as death.”



8 We have a little sister,
and her breasts are not yet grown.
What shall we do for our sister
on the day she is spoken for?
9 If she is a wall,
we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
we will enclose her with panels of cedar.


10 I am a wall,
and my breasts are like towers.
Thus I have become in his eyes
like one bringing contentment.
11 Solomon had a vineyard in Baal Hamon;
he let out his vineyard to tenants.
Each was to bring for its fruit
a thousand shekels of silver.
12 But my own vineyard is mine to give;
the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon,
and two hundred are for those who tend its fruit.


13 You who dwell in the gardens
with friends in attendance,
let me hear your voice!


14 Come away, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
on the spice-laden mountains.

by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


Do you want to hear the end of this Song?

Revelation 21:1-7 (New Living Translation)

The New Jerusalem

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.  All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”


New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
butterfly.    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3046/2932832001_0d5c08d3c1.jpg
Jesus loves you.  http://powerofamoment.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/jesus-loves-you.jpg
50th wedding anniversary cake.    http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_DYYJvE60SI4/TOMbxRmo54I/AAAAAAAAAdU/0Q7gszsGciM/th_wedding_anniversary_cakes.jpg
New Jerusalem.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/new_jerusalem1.jpg


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