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Author Topic: Solomon's World View  (Read 1587 times)

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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2019, 08:04:10 am »
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● Ecc 2:24-26a . .There is nothing worthwhile for a man but to eat and drink and afford himself enjoyment with his means. And even that, I noted, comes from God. For who eats and who enjoys but myself? To the man, namely, who pleases [God] He has given the wisdom and shrewdness to enjoy himself;

A person's financial means can enhance their peace of mind and feelings of security. But to hoard wealth, to stock-pile it, being miserly and stingy, never doing something worthwhile with your means, never doing even yourself any good with it; is not wise. Some years ago, I heard about an elderly couple who died. When the house in which they had lived for many years was torn down, an amount of cash was found in the walls totaling about $40,000. The coroner's determination of cause of death? Malnutrition.

Money is a medium of exchange. Unless it's spent, it can do little or nothing for you. You can't eat money, but it will buy your food. It can't keep you warm, but it will buy your clothing and heating oil. Money is not a conveyance-- it can't be ridden like a magic carpet to transport you from point A on over to point B; but it will buy you a car, a bicycle, or a bus ticket. It can't chew your food, but it will pay a dentist to fix your teeth. Its possession doesn't make you a rock star, but it will buy you a ticket to an AeroSmith concert. Money has no scenic glaciers, but it will buy you a birth onboard a Princess Line cruise ship to Alaska.

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." (1Tim 6:17)

That verse reveals that all the opportunities this world has to offer are provided by God for Man's enjoyment. Therefore, it is absolutely not a sin to enjoy life. Some people feel guilty about success. But that is an unhealthy attitude. Others take vows of poverty in order to enhance their piety. But it isn't necessary to be poor in order to please God. Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, were all very wealthy men whose circumstances-- which enabled them to live high on the hog --were made possible by God's providence. Wealth isn't intrinsically sinful. It's how people use their wealth that matters.

● Ecc 2:26b . . and to him who displeases, He has given the urge to gather and amass-- only for handing on to one who is pleasing to God. That too is futile and pursuit of wind.

When him who displeases donates to charities, his contributions don't earn him any points with God whatsoever because one of Solomon's proverbs says, in so many words, that a bad person's gifts are detestable. (Pro 15:8)

I seriously doubt that it is God who personally urges a bad person to donate to charity. I just think it's the bad person's own conscience working on them. Well; seeing as how God created the human conscience, then I guess you could say "He has given the urge". Maybe that's how Solomon saw it; I don't really know; but it seems logical.


NOTE: The mention of a supreme being throughout Ecclesiastes reveals that the author, though quite philosophical, wasn't an atheist. He was what might be called a theist; roughly defined as someone believing in the existence of one god viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world, who transcends yet is immanent in the world.

The author's god is never once named, instead, referred to as 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which isn't a personal moniker like Yahweh or Brahma, rather, a nondescript label that pertains to all sorts of deities; both the true and the false, and the real and the imagined, plus the gods of myth, superstition, and tradition.

The three sacred names for the Bible's God-- Shadday, 'Adonay, and Yhvh --are nowhere in Ecclesiastes. The reason for that is quite simple. Solomon-- if indeed he's the author --refers to a supreme being in Ecclesiastes in a general sense; sort of like the common expressions: "Thank God nobody got hurt" and/or "God forbid!" There's nothing particularly religious in those kinds of expressions.
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« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 07:46:05 am by Olde Tymer »

Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2019, 07:59:55 am »
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● Ecc 3:1 . . A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven.

This next section smacks of fatalism and predestination, but actually it only speaks of events that are quite normal and commonplace under the sun.

● Ecc 3:2a . . A time for being born and a time for dying,

Those two events are open ended and their precise moments aren't chipped in  stone. Every person experiences a birth, and each will experience a death too. Birth and death are like appointments. As soon as a women senses that she has conceived, she knows it's only a matter of time before she gives birth to a child so she has to begin planning for its arrival. Same with death. We all know we're going to die some day; it's just a matter of time.

But the problem with death is its stealth. We're young only till somewhere in our mid thirties and then to our horror begin to gradually wither. One of the biggest surprises of Billy Graham's life was age. He always believed he would die some day, but Billy wasn't prepared to get old first. His is not an unusual case. Most of us readily anticipate death; but seldom anticipate losing form and function.

● Ecc 3:2b . . a time for planting and a time for uprooting the planted;

Farmers are constantly cultivating, planting, harvesting-- and then tilling what's left after the harvest to prepare for the next crop.

● Ecc 3:3a . . a time for slaying and a time for healing,

A rabid dog has to be put down. But when your pet is hit by a car, you take it to the vet.

● Ecc 3:3b . . a time for tearing down and a time for building up;

My dad worked many hours with his bare hands building us a home when I was a kid. He sold it when I was 11 years old. Twenty-three years later, all of dad's hard work was torn down and hauled off to make way for an RV storage lot; and the property denuded of trees and scraped bare by bulldozers. It's like we were never even there.

● Ecc 3:4a . . a time for weeping and a time for laughing,

Sometimes people laugh and weep all at the same time; like at a wedding.

● Ecc 3:4b . . a time for wailing and a time for dancing;

In a war, the victors celebrate and the vanquished mourn-- like in professional sports. The cameras always show the winners elated, jumping up and down, clapping themselves on the back, emoting for the press, and pouring ice water on the coach; but over on the other side, the losers are all glum and silent and dragging themselves back to the locker room.

● Ecc 3:5a . . a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,

It would be nice if the Palestinians would follow that and pick up after themselves when they're done pelting Israeli soldiers.

● Ecc 3:5b . . a time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces;

Sometimes lovers and friends need to make up and settle their differences before they hug.

● Ecc 3:6a . . a time for seeking and a time for losing,

In other words: A time to search and a time to give it up for lost.

● Ecc 3:6b . . a time for keeping and a time for discarding;

Today's hot couture is tomorrow's Good Will donation.

● Ecc 3:7a . . a time for ripping and a time for sewing,

When doctors need access to an injured patient's body, they often cut clothing off with scissors rather than fussing with buttons and zippers. The very same clothing can be repaired later by needle and thread.

● Ecc 3:7b . . a time for silence and a time for speaking;

They say silence in golden, but sometimes it's yellow; know what I mean?

● Ecc 3:8a . . a time for loving and a time for hating;

A time for love might be when your friends come over for dinner-- through the front door. However, if they sneak in the back way while you're out, and steal your  50" plasma TV so they can sell it for meth; that might be reason enough to dump your friends for new ones.

● Ecc 3:8b . . a time for war and a time for peace.

Peace is much to be preferred to war. But sometimes war is necessary to procure and to preserve peace. We live in a big bad world where there are people more than happy to oppress you, abuse your human rights, control your movements, restrict your speech, clamp down on dissent, take away your wealth and possessions, destroy your home, separate you from your family, and put you to work in a gulag where you'll be underpaid, malnourished, constantly hungry, politically indoctrinated, and poorly clothed for the rest of your life.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2019, 09:37:41 am »
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● Ecc 3:9 . .What value, then, can the man of affairs get from what he earns?

In other words: What does the worker gain from his toil? Well . . one thing he does not gain is control over the "times" listed in the previous eight verses because many circumstances in life are unpredictable and out of our hands no matter how much money a person might be prepared to spend.

● Ecc 3:10 . . I have observed the business that God gave man to be concerned with:

The "business" of course just being the daily round of life beneath the sun.

● Ecc 3:11 . . He brings everything to pass precisely at its time; He also puts eternity in their mind, but without man ever guessing, from first to last, all the things that God brings to pass.

Man is fraught with anxieties; and some of those anxieties are aggravated by uncertainty about the future. Within no sphere is that more evident among Americans than in their thoughts about retirement. Oftentimes people are so concerned about their futures that they fail to enjoy the present; so life slips past them until one day they realize they should have lived life when they had the chance instead of waiting till they retired.

● Ecc 3:12-13 . .Thus I realized that the only worthwhile thing there is for them is to enjoy themselves and do what is good in their lifetime; also, that whenever a man does eat and drink and get enjoyment out of all his wealth, it is a gift of God.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with preparing for the future, but surely not to the expense of missing out on life in the present. It's far better to enjoy life as you live it, and thank whatever god it is that you recognize for the pleasures you have at hand right now, not for the ones that may or may not come your way later. I've actually known men in my line of work who stayed on the job as long as age allowed just to get that very last penny of retirement benefit only to die within two years after leaving.

● Ecc 3:14a . . I realized, too, that whatever God has brought to pass will recur evermore: nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it--

That frustrates and irritates some people because they would like to make some changes in the universe and change the world to suit their feelings. But the gods aren't budging. They're the ones in control. Man is not the one controlling the scheme of things. Man is a prisoner of the gods' sovereign control and there is not one single thing he can do about it.

● Ecc 3:14b . . and God has brought to pass that men revere Him.

Unfortunately Man hates God for being the one in control. They neither fear Him, nor respect Him, nor yield to His sovereign authority. On the contrary, they very much resent God, and want Him deposed.

● Ecc 3:15 . .Whatever exists today and whatever will exist in the future has already existed in the past. For God calls each event back in its turn.

What's that saying? History repeats itself? Who would have thought that people 3,000 years ago shared today's evaluation of world events? Modern man isn't really so modern after all; is he?
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2019, 07:26:16 am »
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● Ecc 3:16 . . And, indeed, I have observed under the sun: Alongside justice there is wickedness, alongside righteousness there is wickedness.

Back in the early days of movie-making, good and evil were well defined. The bad guys were totally bad and the good guys were totally good. Today, the difference between the good guys and the bad guys is blurred. The people we consider to be on the side of right, are often very immoral. They're dishonest, they sleep around, they steal, they break into people's homes, they don't respect private property, they bicker and quarrel, and they are exceedingly insubordinate with their superiors. The difference between the good and the bad is no longer black and white; but relative. The bad guys are badder than the good ones, but the good guys themselves are bad too.

The current on-going pedophilia scandal in the Catholic community is a glaring example of wickedness in the same place as righteousness. With alarming regularity we see more and more criminal cops in the news-- cops who should be upholding the law, not breaking it-- and should be protecting people, not intimidating them, breaking their arms, electrocuting them with stun guns, and shooting them full of bullet holes. To every bad cop I would like to say: Wearing that badge doesn't make you right; it just makes you a bully with a gun and a canister of pepper spray.

Imagine the chagrin of a San Diego municipal judge back in the 1980's when one day, to his utter shock and dismay, a hooker he frequented appeared in court as a witness to testify in a case he was hearing. Upon taking the stand, the hooker greeted the guardian of jurisprudence and expressed amazement that one of her Johns was on the bench.

● Ecc 3:17-18 . . I mused: God will doom both righteous and wicked, for there is a time for every experience and for every happening.Ē So I decided, as regards men, to dissociate them [from] the divine beings and to face the fact that they are beasts.

When you get right down to it: when you strip away people's accouterments; what's left is really little more than human wildlife. In point of fact, to call a human being a beast is an insult to the animal kingdom because people are capable of doing things that are lower than an animal. I've yet to hear of an animal getting drunk and beating his wife; nor have I yet to hear of an animal betting the family's entire week's food budget on one pony at Belmont; nor have I yet to hear of an animal rolling a car into a lake with their kids inside in order to keep a boyfriend.

● Ecc 3:19-20 . . For in respect of the fate of man and the fate of beast, they have one and the same fate: as the one dies so dies the other, and both have the same life-breath; man has no superiority over beast, since both amount to nothing. Both go to the same place; both came from dust and both return to dust.

Some people are inclined to think it is arrogant of Man to suppose he's the only form of intelligent life in the universe. But what is Man anyway but an unsanitary primate with a 3-pound lump of flabby organic tissue sufficing for a mind? We should want more of his ilk in the universe? I don't think so. Man is hardly more intelligent than an orangutan; and ten times more immoral. And besides; he's made of clay. And you know what happens when clay is all wet? It gets stuck on itself. But death is the great equalizer.

Beasts die and people die too; so people really have no advantage over a cow in that respect. True: a cow won't die rich, but then the rich take nothing out with them when they die; same as the cow: so who's really better off in the ground? the bovine or the rich man? Neither: they're equals in that respect.

● Ecc 3:21 . .Who knows if a man's life-breath does rise upward and if a beast's breath does sink down into the earth?

Solomon has a point. Who today has a red-phone line connected to the afterlife? Nobody. People pride themselves on their faith in holy books like the Bible and the Koran; but really don't know for certain whether or not all of the writings in either book are actually true; do they?

Solomon never met anyone who came back from the dead with a tale to tell about the afterlife. How about you? Who have you known personally who died, was buried, and then later came back?

As brilliant and as intellectual as Solomon was, he was just as much in the dark about life after death as everybody else. Can you prove beyond a shadow of all reasonable doubt that there exists another life for human beings after death? No, you can't; and you won't know for sure until the day comes when you actually make the trip yourself.

● Ecc 3:22 . . I saw that there is nothing better for man than to enjoy his possessions, since that is his portion. For who can enable him to see what will happen afterward?

Is that really such bad advice seeing as no one really knows for sure what happens after we die? What if all those super pious ascetics practicing a life of strict self denial discover later after death that it was all for nothing? Wouldn't that be tragic? It is stupid to suffer self denial when no one really knows for rock-solid sure whether or not it counts for anything.


NOTE: Seeing as how Ecclesiastes is one man's world view, rather than a specific religious dogma, then it's no surprise when we encounter things in here from the point of view of common sense quite often.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2019, 08:00:47 am »
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● Ecc 4:1-3 . . I further observed all the oppression that goes on under the sun: the tears of the oppressed, with none to comfort them; and the power of their oppressors-- with none to comfort them. Then I accounted those who died long since more fortunate than those who are still living; and happier than either are those who have not yet come into being and have never witnessed the miseries that go on under the sun.

I'd be curious to know just exactly when, where, and how Mr. Born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his mouth king Solomon was exposed to the "tears" of the oppressed. Maybe he was talking about all the hapless Jewish men he conscripted to work like slaves in his stone quarries and logging camps.

Some people really are better off dead, and also better had they not been born. I mean, for some people, what's the point of living at all.

It's difficult for the average American to appreciate the misery of people in other countries living in poverty, want, squalor, tyranny, despotism, and oppression. When I was a little boy living in San Diego back in the early 1950's I went on a trip with my parents to Tijuana. As we walked across a bridge over the Tijuana River, I looked down below at a pitiful community just like the community filmed in the movie Slum Dog Millionaire. The jam-packed homes (rudimentary shelters actually) were constructed of cardboard, sheets of plywood, corrugated tin, and sign boards. The children were all barefoot and there were no streets and sidewalks; just riverbed soil. I have no clue what they did for sanitation. It's my guess all their offal went into what there was of the Tijuana River as raw sewage.

Those people down in that riverbed weren't living; they were existing, and that with no more dignity than a hog in a wallow. (In later years, the community was washed away by unusually high water and subsequently the site permanently closed to squatters by the government.)

Hafez al Assad, deceased father of the current dictator of Syria, Bashar al Assad, was ruthless towards his political opponents. In the early 1980's, he dispatched his air force to bomb the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood's densely populated neighborhoods in the area of Hama. (I'm talking about Syrian citizens in a Syrian city; not foreigners in a foreign country). Afterwards, Hafez had his army bulldoze the smoking remains. Between 10,000 and 40,000 people were killed, and thousands more were jailed, tortured, and left to languish in prison. Protests from human rights organizations bounced off Hafez like a BB off of depleted uranium plating.

Ryan Crocker, a US ambassador who served in Damascus during the transition from Hafez to Bashar, said of the son: "Any suggestion that Bashar is a push-over is an illusion. He's so personable that it's easy to underestimate him. But rest assured, he is his father's son." Mr. Ryan is so right. It isn't unusual this very day to be dining out in Damascus while at the same time having to listen to dreadful screams coming from a second-floor window of the Bab Touma police station. In the street, people cast each other knowing glances but nobody says a word because someone might be listening.

There's little to no justice in China. Fully 99 percent of all trials result in a guilty verdict. If you're executed with a gun, the state sends your family a bill for the bullet.

 In North Korea, three generations of a family can be punished for one member's alleged crime. As of 2008, an estimated 200,000 North Korean citizens were detained in labor camps: and don't get me started on Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

● Ecc 4:4 . . I have also noted that all labor and skillful enterprise come from men's envy of each other-- another futility and pursuit of wind!

Most of us are pretty satisfied with what we have until we see someone with something better. Just because the Devil wears Prada, is it really essential that everyone else does? Gordon Gekko, of Wall Street/Money Never Sleeps, said : "While I was away, it seemed greed got greedier; with a little bit of envy mixed in. Hedge funders were walking home with 50, 100 million bucks a year". They say money is the root of all evil. Well, I would have to say that envy is money's kissing cousin. Bring those two together and the markets can become very volatile and just as vulnerable.

● Ecc 4:5 . .The fool folds his hands together and has to eat his own flesh.

Just the opposite of those who strive to get ahead, is the lazy good-for-nothing, who can't be motivated to go out and find work or start a business. The others have it all, while he has nothing at all. At least the greedy and the envious have food on the table and a place to live. The fool is homeless and probably lives out of dumpsters, or worse, panhandles and mooches off friends. (One of my all-time favorite panhandler's makeshift cardboard signs said: Dreaming of a cheeseburger.)

● Ecc 4:6 . . Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

In between the go-getters, and the homeless bums, are the moderate people. They don't have to have the best that life has to offer, nor the most money, and they don't want it. Their motto is: Better isn't necessary when adequate will do. These are happy with what they have and make do with what they can afford.

Moderate people aren't lazy, but then again, neither are they achievers nor overly industrious. They don't need a lot, they're easy to please, and are usually very content; e.g. when they shop for diamond jewelry, the stones don't have to be flawless; just sparkly and pretty. They might splurge on a consumer-priced Bulova or a Seiko, but won't shell out the extra dough for a Breitling or an IWC even though they're the better timepieces. They prefer cars that are economical rather than cars that are cool, fast, and fitted out with the latest electronics. They eat at ordinary buffets and restaurants rather than fancy, black-tie supper clubs; and their back yards are likely to have just as many weeds as ornamental shrubs. While others chase status, moderates prefer to chase sales and clip coupons.

But the sad part is; those greedy, leveraged-to-the-hilt hedge-funders are the very ones ravaging the moderates' retirement plans. And if the fund goes belly-up-- as many did in the last sub-prime blood bath --what do they care? It wasn't their money that was lost; it was yours while they escaped with a bail-out and/or a golden parachute. And the bail-outs? Who pays for those? Duh . . . the moderates; via federal taxes, of course.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2019, 07:34:26 am »
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● Ecc 4:7-8 . . And I have noted this further futility under the sun: the case of the man who is alone, with no companion, who has neither son nor brother; yet he amasses wealth without limit, and his eye is never sated with riches. For whom, now, is he amassing it while denying himself enjoyment? That too is a futility and an unhappy business.

That surely describes people like Ebenezer Scrooge-- Charles Dickens' friendless loner in A Christmas Carol --the prince of misers. The man has great wealth, and sees the amassing of wealth as the only justifiable reason to be alive. He despises family life, shuns circles of close friends, and regards charitable causes as theft. The man won't even spend his money on decent food to nourish himself; let alone wood or coal to heat his dismal home. His fortune does neither him nor anyone else any real good at all except provide him with questionable old-age security.

● Ecc 4:9-10 . .Two are better off than one, in that they have greater benefit from their earnings. For should they fall, one can raise the other; but woe betide him who is alone and falls with no companion to raise him!

Webster's defines "synergism" as: interaction of discrete agencies, agents, or conditions such that the total effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects.

John Nash put that principle into his Nobel Prize-winning economic theory. He felt that it is possible to not only do yourself the better good, but at the same time to do it in such a way that your efforts mesh with the efforts of others so that all benefit.

Marriage is a synergic arrangement. Partners are more secure, and usually accomplish much more together than an individual on their own; and they look out for each other too. When a wife gets a muscle spasm in her back, and can't walk, then the husband can put her on a blanket and drag her down the hallway to the bathroom. When the husband's car blows a heater hose on the way home from work, the wife can use her own car to come and get him at the repair shop and bring him home for dinner. Plus, if both work, their combined income makes it possible to carry a mortgage instead of throwing money away on rent.

● Ecc 4:11 . . Further, when two lie together they are warm; but how can he who is alone get warm?

To be warm, as in Ecc 4:11, implies more than merely warding off a chill. It means to be comforted. There is very little solace to be found in solitude. Loner type of people often end up plagued with feelings of isolation, depression, and dark thoughts.

● Ecc 4:12 . . Also, if one attacks, two can stand up to him. A threefold cord is not readily broken!

All he's saying there is that a single strand of hemp by itself is weak; but when woven together in multiple strands, becomes very strong; viz: the combined strands become force multipliers.

In the darkening days in which we live in America, jogging, hiking, and bicycling alone can be very dangerous in a City, State, or National park; especially after sundown. It's far more sensible to mingle with others; even if they're strangers. People alone are easy marks for muggers and wilding attacks. Nobody's invincible. Even tough guys like Chuck Norris and Jason Stathan can be taken down. As Arnold Schwarzeneggar said in the Hollywood movie Predator, "If it bleeds, we can kill it".
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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2019, 04:29:12 pm »
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● Ecc 4:13-16 . . Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer has the sense to heed warnings. The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king's successor. There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

That passage observes the instability of political power, and the fickleness of popularity. The incumbent ruler may have at one time heeded his advisors' input and lead his country wisely. But when he got old, he stopped listening to them. As a result, a younger generation despised him for being egotistic, out of touch, and insensitive to his countrymen's feelings. His arrogance and egotism made him a prisoner of his own foolish mind and eventually, he was either deposed, or voted out of office.

A younger man, unknown till now, an underdog, whose platform preached political reforms, a hope you can believe in, environmental improvement, and economic recovery; made impressive speeches and won the people's hearts. He took over, led his country out of economic depression and to great victories over their enemies. His country enjoyed worldwide prestige and great prosperity.

But the younger leader's popularity didn't endure. He himself aged and stopped listening to the voice of the people and his advisors' input, and he too then became unpopular with a younger generation; who then began clamoring for his overthrow just like his own generation had done to his predecessor. It's an endless cycle. Politicians are loved when they are voted in, and hated when they are voted out.

Oliver Cromwell, who took the British throne away from Charles l, and established the commonwealth, said to a friend: "Do not trust to the cheering, for those same persons would cheer just as much if you and I were going to be hanged."
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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2019, 08:45:42 am »
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● Ecc 5:1 . . Be not overeager to go to the House of God: more acceptable is obedience than the offering of fools, for they know nothing [but] to do wrong.

Old Testament Judaism was built around a fully functioning Aaronic priesthood whose duty was to collect sacrifices and offerings from the people. But the worshippers abused the system because they lived like the Devil during most of the year and tried to make up for it with sacrifices. To see how God feels about that kind of religious hypocrisy, just read the first chapter of Isaiah.

In no uncertain terms, God angrily spurned his people's offerings-- their prayers, their holy days, their festivals and feast days, and yes even their sacred Sabbath observances because although they were very religious, they were, at the same time, a hard-hearted, stubborn pack of scofflaws.

You can see the very same thing going on in Christianity. A number of pew-warmers live utterly worldly, carnal lives all year long and expect that church attendance on Easter Sunday will somehow make up for it. That day is the most heavily attended church day in Christendom. People who normally wouldn't step over the threshold of a church door all year long, will attend on Easter Sunday so they don't feel completely heathen. Easter service, to them, is some sort of redemption day, somehow wiping away a whole year's worth of secular impiety and is supposed to convince Jesus they truly love him after all.


NOTE: Just for the fun of it some day, position yourself where you can watch the front of a church when it's let out Sunday morning and observe the number of Christians who J-walk back to their cars. (chuckle) You might be surprised.

● Ecc 5:2-3 . . Keep your mouth from being rash, and let not your throat be quick to bring forth speech before God. For God is in heaven and you are on earth; that is why your words should be few. Just as dreams come with much brooding, so does foolish utterance come with much speech.

If you've really nothing to discuss with God in prayer, then skip it: say nothing; remembering that God is a king, and kings shouldn't be treated as if they're dumb enough to suffer fools and waste their time listening to filibusters and bombastic rhetoric.

● Ecc 5:4-6 . .When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. For He has no pleasure in fools; what you vow, fulfill. It is better not to vow at all than to vow and not fulfill. Don't let your mouth bring you into disfavor, and don't plead before the messenger that it was an error, but fear God; else God may be angered by your talk and destroy your possessions.

The "messenger" is translated from mal'ak (mal-awk') which is somewhat ambiguous. It can mean an angel, or a prophet, or a priest or a teacher.

At Gen 48:16 it refers to God; but here it likely refers to the church and/or church manager to whom you made a pledge, e.g. a faith promise.

A sacred vow is between you and God, not between you and your church. So don't be rash with your promises nor make excuses for reneging. A promise is a promise; and God will hold you to your vows even if you can't afford it. You just try to be lax in your payments with a shylock and see what happens. You risk fractured ribs by men who are very good at breaking things over people's heads. When the points are due, that's when they're due; not later. If shylocks are to be feared, then God needs to be feared even more.

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me? says the Lord Almighty." (Mal 1:6)
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2019, 09:43:18 am »
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● Ecc 5:7 . . For much dreaming leads to futility and to superfluous talk.

God's people should be known for keeping their feet on the ground, and their head out of the clouds. Religion is not supposed to be in words. It's supposed to be in shoe leather, in your everyday life. It's supposed to be in honesty and integrity-- it's in few words, and it's in keeping your word. Flowery prayers, and showy vows and pledges don't please God near as much as just simply being a man of your word. You can't buy God off with churchianity nor can you fool Him with it into thinking you are somehow pious and above reproach when the truth is; you're not.

● Ecc 5:8 . . If you see in a province oppression of the poor and suppression of right and justice, donít wonder at the fact; for one high official is protected by a higher one, and both of them by still higher ones.

Existing alongside America's elected officials, is a shadow government called the bureaucracy. Bureaucrats are non-elected officials who are actually the ones conducting much of the government's business. High profile bureaucrats would be the President's cabinet. But many others operate completely invisible to the general public until they become implicated in a news-worthy scandal.

Too many bureaucrats are looking out only for themselves; most especially their jobs. So they tend to make every effort to please their superiors; often to the detriment of the voting public's best interests. No one should be shocked at this. It's pretty normal because after all, human government is staffed by human beings.

● Ecc 5:9 . .The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.

Government officials are sometimes said to be feeding at the federal trough. Like greedy swine, they gobble up a large percentage of the gross national product to pay their own wages, perks, and benefits; and to finance ear-marks and pork. But citizens benefit in many ways from taxes too. So the government is not the only one taking a piece of the country's wealth.

● Ecc 5:10 . . A lover of money never has his fill of money, nor a lover of wealth his fill of income. That too is futile.

Money may not be the number one thing in life; but it's way ahead of whatever is number two. When Shia LaBeouf's character asked Josh Brolin's character-- in the movie: Wall Street/Money Never Sleeps --what his number is; viz: the number of dollars that would be enough for him to walk away from investment banking and retire; Brolin's character answered: More.

People obsessed with money actually love and revere it; and make any and every sacrifice to get it. They stay up late, work long ridiculous hours, disconnect from their families, and even betray their friends' trust to get it. Their minds are filled with thoughts about money, their lives are controlled by getting it and guarding it; and while they have it: they feel a great sense of pride, achievement, security, and independence.

The amount of money they possess pales in importance compared to their rabid desire to simply amass it. I've heard it said that success is the best revenge. There are too many people out there in the business world who need money simply to feel better about themselves, and to get one over on their rivals.

● Ecc 5:11a . . As his substance increases, so do those who consume it;

The wealthy often find themselves hounded by foundations, causes, charities, and freeloading relatives and friends. MC Hammer, a very popular rapper in the 80's and 90's, was quite rich at one time but spent it all on not just himself, but on his entourage as well. Making money in a big way involves the employment of a staff; and those kinds of staffs aren't cheap. They all average six figures; not to mention their bonuses which commonly run up to seven.

● Ecc 5:11b . . what, then, does the success of its owner amount to but feasting his eyes?

Past world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis was heard to say: I don't like money actually, but it quiets my nerves. Yes, money is good for feasting the eyes, and provides a certain sense of security. However, money is no guarantee your nerves will be calm, nor that your sleep will be sound; nor that your security is assured.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #22 on: January 23, 2019, 10:05:50 am »
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● Ecc 5:12 . . A [slaves'] sleep is sweet, whether he has much or little to eat; but the rich man's abundance doesn't let him sleep.

When you have nothing, you don't worry too much about losing it. But when you have a lot, then you fear going broke; and along with riches comes eating gourmet foods which sometimes cause indigestion and acid reflux.

I know a man who, as he got older, became concerned about dying before owning a really good watch. So, he took some money out of his home equity line and bought a Rolex Explorer II, a TagHeuer Chronograph, a Rolex Datejust, and an Omega Double Eagle Chronograph. All totaled, he shelled out roughly $20,000. He's very happy with the watches, but now worries all the time they might get lost, stolen, or damaged. He didn't have those kinds of worries when he owned timepieces no more expensive than a Casio G-shock.

● Ecc 5:13-14 . . Here is a grave evil I have observed under the sun: riches hoarded by their owner to his misfortune, in that those riches are lost in some unlucky venture; and if he begets a son, he has nothing in hand.

 That is so sad. The ENRON scandal brought to light the dangers of investing in a retirement system that is solely dependent upon just one company's prosperity. When the stock price of ENRON plummeted, the value of its employee retirement system plummeted too; and so steep was the collapse, that many of the energy giant's rank and file were left with virtually zero dollars in their retirement accounts.

A veteran electrician with  PGE (Portland General Electric) related how his account was worth something like $348,000 before ENRON's value began to fall. He couldn't do anything about it because his account was frozen while the executives at ENRON were permitted to move their money to safety. By the time the PGE electrician's account was unfrozen, its value had dropped to $1,200.

The sub-prime Wall Street disaster did the very same thing to a pretty good number of vulnerable retirement accounts. Though the Federal Reserve bailed out the big investment banks, it did nothing for the little banks nor for the innocent folks who were ruined by the collapse.

● Ecc 5:15 . . Another grave evil is this: He must depart just as he came. As he came out of his mother's womb, so must he depart at last, naked as he came. He can take nothing of his wealth to carry with him.

I once heard a story about a very famous rich man who died. At the reading of his will, newspaper reporters were required to remain outside and not allowed to interview the heirs until later. When the reading was over, a reporter approached one of the lawyers and asked how much the old gentleman left. The lawyer replied: He left it all.

Yes, the rich man couldn't take a single dime of his wealth into the next life. It all stayed here and he went into eternity completely broke.

There is a story, in Luke 16:19-31, of a rich man who died and went to the fiery portion of Hades. In life he lived sumptuously, eating the best of foods and drinking the best of wines. But in Hades, the poor fellow doesn't even have so much as a glass of water.

You know, restaurants put glasses of water on our tables as a matter of courtesy. The water is free. It's on the house. You don't need to be wealthy to merit a glass of water in a restaurant. But in the fiery portion of Hades, nobody is given any courtesy whatsoever no matter how prominent they may have been in life.

● Ecc 5:16 . . So what is the good of his toiling for the wind?

It isn't intrinsically evil to save and invest. After all, Solomon wrote in Proverbs that it's wise to look ahead, and parents are wise who lay something aside for their children. But the people who hoard, and who amass wealth simply for the sake of possessing it for themselves, are laboring for the wind. They can't possibly keep it into the next life, so the best thing for them to do is share it while they are here where it will do the world some good. It's okay to keep enough for yourself for now and for the future, but when there's a ridiculous surplus, find a way to disperse it. Otherwise, your hoarding serves no useful purpose, and at death your wealth is surrendered anyway.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2019, 11:29:38 am »
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● Ecc 5:17 . . Besides, all his days he eats in darkness, with much vexation and grief and anger.

Wealthy people don't usually eat in the dark. Many have very nice chandeliers over the table. But in their hearts often lurk evil thoughts, bad memories, regrets, grievances, resentments, disputes, hard feelings, and a bad conscience. They're really no different than the common man in that arena. Like they say: So and so puts his pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else.

● Ecc 5:18 . . Only this, I have found, is a real good: that one should eat and drink and get pleasure with all the gains he makes under the sun, during the numbered days of life that God has given him; for that is his portion.

Solomon mentions death so often that you might think he was obsessed with it. But really, he wasn't. His philosophy of life was such that he took death into consideration so that his days weren't spent as if they were infinite and he expected to live forever. A balanced philosophy of life has to include the very real possibility of imminent death to keep things in proper perspective.

"Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways." (Jas 1:9-11)

"Come now, you who say; Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit-- you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." (Jas 4:13-14)

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away" (1Pet 1:24)

"A voice rings out; Proclaim! Another asks; What shall I proclaim? All flesh is grass, all its goodness like flowers of the field: Grass withers, flowers fade when the breath of the Lord blows on them. Indeed, man is but grass: Grass withers, flowers fade" (Isa 40:6-8

Man is but perishable fruit like peaches, pears, strawberries, cantaloupe, avocado, and oranges; no amount of refrigeration will keep him fresh. Regardless of the amount of rest, fresh air, good diet, and exercise; man begins to wither right around the age of 32 or 34.

Youngster's can't picture their expiration date as three brief decades: to them, 32 years seems long and way out in the distance. Hence the withering process often sneaks up and takes them by surprise like starting a frog off in cool water and slowly bringing it up to a boil. Of a sudden, one day it swats them in the face like a rolled up newspaper that they're "old school" replaced by a young, hip generation wherein they've been accustomed to thinking all along was themselves.

The withering process, once it starts, is relentless. Like a Terminator: it can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with, it doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear, and it absolutely will not stop-- ever! --until you are dead. Once the withering process sets in, from that moment on, man is shackled to a living death

● Ecc 5:19-20 . . Also, whenever a man is given riches and property by God, and is also permitted by Him to enjoy them and to take his portion and get pleasure for his gains-- that is a gift of God. For [such a man] will not brood much over the days of his life, because God keeps him busy enjoying himself.

Within the context of the book of Ecclesiastes, a "gift of God" should never be taken literally. It's just a colloquialism, like the common term "act of God" used to label the cause of natural calamities like earthquakes, floods, storms, miscarriages, and stuff like that.

I'm in my retirement years, and one of the things I avoid is keeping too busy because I don't want the final years of my life to pass quickly. They'll pass soon enough; but when you keep busy, time really has a way of flying. On the flip side is one's mental health. Keeping busy does have a way of preventing people from doing too much introspection and reminiscence thereby developing a chronic case of the blues. One's mind can atrophy too if they never do anything to exercise their intelligence. So I try to strike a balance: I keep somewhat physically busy, and I keep somewhat mentally busy too; while avoiding excess in either area.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2019, 09:41:39 am »
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● Ecc 6:1-2a . .There is an evil I have observed under the sun, and a grave one it is for man: that God sometimes grants a man riches, property, and wealth, so that he does not want for anything his appetite may crave,

Here we go with that "gift of God" thing again; but these are typically a genre of gifts that Solomon observes "under the sun" rather than in the sphere of true providence. Just because somebody is rich is no indication their prosperity was engineered by God. Even career criminals, Wall Street barracudas, predatory lenders, and corrupt politicians are often rich; no thanks to God. Some feel the Kennedy clan is blessed, yet they are very well off due to grandpa Joe's lack of scruples.

● Ecc 6:2b . . but God does not permit him to enjoy it; instead, a stranger will enjoy it. That is futility and a grievous ill.

That is the classic "the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord" attitude. Calling any act of God "futility and a grievous ill" would normally be considered accusing God of sin, except that in this case, Solomon doesn't really mean it that way. To an intellectual, the concept of God is merely academic; and an "act of God" is really no more literal than pie in the sky or the man in the moon.

A common example of this "evil" about which Solomon spoke is someone who worked hard all their life, saved and invested wisely, and then one day WHAM, during a routine physical exam, their doctor shocks them with the life-changing news they have on-set Alzheimer's. Guess where that person's savings and investments will end up now. Yes, towards medical attention and long term care. The health care system, and it's medical professionals, will make a big dent in their life savings.

● Ecc 6:3-6 . . Even if a man should beget a hundred children and live many years-- no matter how many the days of his years may come to, if his gullet is not sated through his wealth, I say: the stillbirth, though it was not even accorded a burial, is more fortunate than he. Though it comes into futility and departs into darkness, and its very name is covered with darkness, though it has never seen or experienced the sun, it is better off than he-- yes, even if the other lived a thousand years twice over but never had his fill of enjoyment! For are not both of them bound for the same place?

One advantage a stillborn child enjoys over and above the living is that although it never had a chance to live; it doesn't know what it missed either. In its case, ignorance is truly bliss. The person who had the means and the wherewithal to enjoy life, but failed to take advantage of it before they died, will suffer unspeakable mental anguish throughout eternity for missing their chance to enjoy life before it was too late. In that respect, the miscarried child is much better off because it has more peace of mind than others even though it never owned anything; no, not even so much as a name to call its own.

I knew an older man once who owned a very expensive wrist watch that he reserved for special occasions. Well; that is short sighted if you ask me' He should wear that nice watch whenever he gets the chance because life is so uncertain. People should enjoy their nice things while they can rather than wait till they're at the point of death. Life is not a do-over. You've got live it as you live it: not wait till a more opportune moment; which, as sometimes happens, quite possibly may never come. Carpe Diem: seize the day. People who put off living life to its fullest till later often find out it's too late to do so.

● Ecc 6:7-8 . . All of manís earning is for the sake of his mouth, yet his gullet is not sated. What advantage then has the wise man over the fool, what advantage has the pauper who knows how to get on in life?

Food and water are two things in life that, like sleep, cannot be taken just once because once is not enough. You have to eat again, you have to drink water again, and you have to sleep again. That is a law of life for both the stupid and the intelligent, for both the rich and the poor, for both the female gender and for the male gender. No one is exempt from that law-- all are equal in those respects-- except for the reticent 17 year-old Twilight vampire Edward Cullen of whom it's said never needs sleep.

● Ecc 6:9 . .What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.

Sometimes I think the most content people are the blind because they go shopping with their heads instead of their eyes. People invariably buy things that are far more expensive than what they could get by with if they had to.

This same weakness of the eyes will compel a boy to marry a beautiful girl who is totally wrong for him. The Creator made women to be a man's very best friend first, his lover second, and the mother of his children third. But some men just can't get past a girl's looks; and as all women know, when it comes to love; men use their eyes much better than they use their heads. They often pick a wife without thinking because looks mean almost everything to the average man; and a woman's personality is only secondary, if it's taken into consideration at all.

Women, as a rule, focus on the aspects of intimacy and relationship; but men, as a rule, focus on the physical aspect. One of Billy Crystal's lines from City Slicker says it all: "Women have to be in the mood, while men just need a place."

Take a look around the magazine racks in Barnes & Noble some time. The regular racks contain lots of magazines with girly covers; and inside them are lots of girly photographs; while over in another aisle away from the racks, are shelves displaying the romance novels. Most guys don't care for romance novels; those are for the women; because romance novels are to women what girly pictures are to men; just in a different way. Photographs stimulate men through their eyes, while novels stimulate women through their feelings; which easily explains why some men would rather walk the neighbor's dog than sit through a chick flick with their wives and girlfriends.
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Olde Tymer

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Re: Solomon's World View
« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2019, 12:00:26 pm »
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● Ecc 6:10 . .Whatever happens, it was designated long ago and it was known that it would happen; as for man, he cannot contend with what is stronger than he.

I guess you could call that attitude fatalism.

Some things really are predestined and often we just have to face the facts; e.g. old age and death are two of life's unpleasant realities. Everyone is stuck with debilitation and there's no use in fighting it. Menopause is another chipped-in-stone fact of life that is just as real as the air we breathe all around us. If couples aren't careful, and let too much time slip by, menopause will steal away their chances for a baby. And on top of that, the older a woman gets, the more her eggs age and become less viable than when she was young. The same problem exists for men, just in a different way. Men arenít born with all their sperm cells. Fresh ones are manufactured by their bodies all the time. However, those fresh cells are the cells of an aging man. So if a man waits to have children when he's old, his chances of producing a child with birth defects increase.

Some people enjoy toying with death; and go hiking in the wilderness all alone and/or jump off high places with a bungee cord. Some say people like that have a death wish. No, what they really have is a wish to flirt with death and live to tell about it. Their attitude is: If you aren't walking on the edge; then you're taking up room.

Personally, I don't want to die like a fool. People who tempt fate by participating in extreme sports are just asking to be dead and/or crippled for life before their next meal-- and then what?

● Ecc 6:11-12 . . Often, much talk means much futility. How does it benefit a man? Who can possibly know what is best for a man to do in life-- the few days of his fleeting life? For who can tell him what the future holds for him under the sun?

Solomon's comment pertains to a man's time "under the sun" rather than after his death.

They say for every action there's a reaction; and that's generally true. But who can really predict the repercussions of their decisions? In other words: when a butterfly flaps its wings in England, does it put in motion other acts of nature that eventuate in a typhoon in Samoa?

Life isn't like a chess game where the masters can see twelve moves ahead. No, life is oftentimes a gamble. A young fellow contemplating the risks and responsibilities of marriage once lamented to me how chancy it is to get married in these days with the world in such turmoil and the economy uncertain. But I said to him: Life goes on.

My friend realized of course that life does go on even under the extreme threats of nuclear war, terrorism, air and water pollution, drug cartels, road rage, brown-outs and water shortages, insane oil prices, acid rain, crime, prejudice, drive-by shootings, global warming, unemployment, economic collapse, and reactor melt-downs. People do manage to somehow cope and keep going. Well, not long after that, he married his best girl; who proved to be just the right one for him too. His pretty bride made him forget all about the dangers of lay-offs, spiraling medical costs, and mortgage debt. My young friend never felt better in his life. Carpe Diem.
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