“The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth (Ecclesiastes 12:10).” What types of words do you seek out? The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes sought words that met the highest standards of both form and content.
The words of the Preacher were so beautifully formed. You might hear, “For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2),” at the funeral for a devout atheist, even though the Preacher goes on to say, “God has made everything beautiful in its time… (Ecclesiastes 3:11).” The quality of these words reverberates even among those who would otherwise dismiss anything that comes from the Bible.
The words of the Preacher were not only beautiful in form, but they were also upright and true in content. Many people today are willing to jettison truthful content for the sake of captivating form. Captivated by charisma, dramatic presentation, even psychological word-sell, they only want to be moved. They say things like, “Wow! That was powerful!” Isn’t it ironic that a society that claims to be more objective than any before it is willing to do all its thinking with its feelings instead of the totality of God given intellect? Charles Bridges once said, “Truth slightly valued is easily lost and unspeakable fearful is the loss.”
The Preacher held himself to the highest standards of form and content. For this reason, the editor of Ecclesiastes goes on to say of his words, “The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by One Shepherd (Ecclesiastes 12:11).”
A goad was a staff with nails affixed at the end. When the shepherd led an ox to its destination, he would use the goad to keep it safe and on the path. If it veered off, he could give the ox a poke to redirect it. Truthful content sometimes hurts. The words of the Bible can poke us and prod us in places we don’t want to be poked or prodded.
If you want to know if you are reading the Book of Ecclesiastes right – or any book of the Bible for that matter – you need to ask yourself if you are sometimes offended by what you read. Sometimes God’s words hurt. They will injure your pride, call you out on your conduct, and challenge your preconceived notions of reality. However, though they might hurt, they always hurt to heal. How are you reading the wise words of God?