Saturday, 04 June 2011 18:06
The first two parts of this article consisting of the first three major realities that give life definition and meaning were published here last May 28 & 29 respectively. My dear reader friend, as we come to the last part of this article today, I'm so glad we have finally arrived at something positive and affirming – hope for the living.
As we continue, Ecclesiastes 9:4-6 reads: For whoever is joined with the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hate, and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.
There is nothing quite as encouraging as hope. When Solomon said that whoever is joined with the living will find hope, it turns the tide. It brings light into an otherwise dark chamber. Next he quote an Arabic proverb familiar to him but not to us. . . “ live dog is better than a dead lion.” In our day, it does not have the ring of truth that it had then. Today, our pets are pampered. They are treated like little luxuries. They are fluffed up, pedigreed, and respected like human beings. Some are treated better than we treat humans. They sleep on our beds. Some of them actually eat at our tables.
In those days, dogs were diseased mongrels, that ran in packs through the city streets. People feared them. Nevertheless, Solomon says that a live dog is better than the King of the jungle who is dead. Why? Because the King of the jungle, if he's dead, has no hope. As long as there's life, there's a dream, there’s the anticipation of a new plan, there's love, there is purpose. In one word, along with life comes the presence of hope.
The point is clear: if we are alive we have hope. Now, since that is true, how are we to respond to these inevitable and inescapable realities? Enough of gloom! Away with despair and all those depressing philosophies! Live happily wherever you are. Take note that verse 7 reads: “Go then, eat your bread in happiness, drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.”
See how verse 7 begins? “Go then.” In other words, Solomon is saying: Get on with it! I don't want you to sit there and sigh and to groan and say, 'Ahhh, I suppose that's life. “No, we are not designed to languish or waste away under a tone of guilt. Life is not a sentence leveled against us. So live it up!
I can just hear someone say. “That's what I want! I've been just waiting for the green light – free and easy hedonism, here I come!” Wait a minute. Hold on long enough to read what follows. “Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head” (verse 8). Some dear souls take that literally, suggesting we wear white all the time. That's not the point, anymore than we are expected to let oil keep running down our head. This is one of the many symbolic statements in Scripture.
White is usually a symbol of purity – a beautiful symbol of righteousness. And oil? It is commonly a symbol of the Spirit of God. The idea, then, is to live a pure life, walking in righteousness and letting the power of the Spirit flow through us. Because God's grace frees us from the guilt of sin, we are to walk in purity and in the power of the Spirit. We are free! Now that is the way to walk. And Chuck Swindoll tells us, it is a marvelous way to walk. So take a worthy and be exalted.
TO GOD BE ALL GLORY AND HONOR
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