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May 2012

To every thing there is a season

Ecclesiastes 3 Aside from the title – “Turn, Turn, Turn” – Pete Seeger wrote 6 words.   Solomon wrote the other 173.  Yet today, it’s probably the the Byrds’ cover version that’s more famous than either! No chart-topper has older lyrics than this song.  So why have these words from Ecclesiastes 3 found such enduring and […]

There is nothing new under the sun

Ecclesiastes 2 –  “History repeats itself.” –  “What goes around comes around.” –  “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Anyone who lives long enough will observe a relentless circularity to life.  That was certainly Solomon’s experience.  And it bred in him a desperate world-weariness. Here’s how he began his spiritual journal: […]

Vanity of vanities

Ecclesiastes 1 In Proverbs we heard the wisdom of Solomon.  But here in Ecclesiastes, we eavesdrop on his despair. “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.  Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2) Thus begins the spiritual journal of the richest, wisest and most famous […]

A soft answer turneth away wrath

Proverbs 15 Why doesn’t God simply forgive us our sins?  Why do we need the mess and the agony of the cross?  Why is  atonement so elaborate: prefigured through millions of animal deaths, and then purchased with the blood of God? Surely Jesus could go to our sin folder, hit “Select all” and drag it into the Recycle […]

Spare the rod and spoil the child

Proverbs 13 This phrase is biblical in origin, but distilled through the poetry of Samuel Butler: “Love is a Boy, by Poets styl’d, Then Spare the Rod, and spill the Child.” In 1662 “spill” was an alternative spelling for “spoil.”  But it seems that Butler relied on a yet more ancient poet.  In 1377 William […]

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart

Proverbs 3:1-35 This is many people’s favourite Scripture.  In fact, it was the verse written by my mother into my confirmation bible: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:4-5) What’s your approach to […]

The words of the wise

Proverbs 1:1-33 We’ve looked at Job and the Psalms.  Now we turn to Proverbs, the next book in the category of “wisdom literature.” Here we have a long and colourful fireside chat.  It’s the words of a father to his son.  Verse 1 introduces us to the father: “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of […]

Praise the LORD

Psalm 150 The book of Psalms concludes as all things will – with noisy, joyful praise.  Psalm 150: “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.  Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.  Praise him with the sound of the […]

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy

Psalm 126 From slavery to freedom, from the wilderness to ‘the land of milk and honey’, from darkness to light, from the cross to the resurrection – the Christian life is an experience of redemption.  The LORD is always defined as One who “brings up” His people – from Egypt to Canaan, from exile to […]

At their wits' end

Psalm 107 There’s a saying: “Most people only look up when they’re flat on their backs.”  It’s proved in the bible time and again.  And this phrase “at their wits’ end” is a perfect description for where people find Jesus.  Or rather, where He finds them. “Wits’ end” is quite a creative translation from the […]