Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Unraveling Ecclesiastes (2 Timothy 3:10-17)

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable …" (2 Tim. 3:16).

Ecclesiastes is one of the most difficult books in Scripture. Its ambiguous language and dramatic style often cloud its meaning. Charles Bridges recognized this difficulty, but he remained committed to writing a commentary because he believed all of God’s Word is profitable—even those parts that are ambiguous.

Despite its difficulties, Ecclesiastes provides a wealth of practical instruction. To discover its jewels of wisdom, one must search its passages with a Christian spirit, not with idle curiosity. “Prayer, faith, humility, diligence, will bring rest and satisfaction to minds exercised in the school of God,” Bridges wrote. In other words, don’t despair over a difficult passage. Pray about it, rely on the Spirit of Christ for illumination, and persevere in your study.

“We expect to find some difficulties in a revelation from a Being like God to such a creature as man,” Canon Wordsworth reminds us. “We even rejoice in these difficulties. They are the occasion of our growth in grace. They exercise our humility. They are like the leaves and flowers, of which the crown of faith is woven. They remind us of our own weakness and ignorance, and of Christ’s power and wisdom. They send us to Him and to the Gospel.”

The French pastor Adophe Monod also reminds us that Bible study is not always easy, but a persistent knocking at the throne of grace will provide its own reward. “We must acknowledge that in the beginning of the study of Scripture, there are many difficulties, and much obscurity. Some labor is necessary to dissipate them; and the mind of man is naturally slow and idle; and he easily loses courage, and is satisfied with reading over and over again, without penetrating further than the surface; and he learns nothing new; and the constant perusal of the same thing causes weariness, as if the Word of God was not interesting; as if we could not find some new instruction in it; as if it were not inexhaustible as God Himself. Let us ever beware of thinking these difficulties insurmountable. We must give ourselves trouble. For here, as in every part of the Christian life, God will have us to be laborers with Himself; and the knowledge of the Bible, and a relish for the Bible, are the fruit and recompense of this humble, sincere, and persevering study.”

Do you hesitate to study a particular doctrine such as baptism, God’s sovereignty, or spiritual gifts because they’re difficult? Select one subject to study. Pray for a teachable spirit. Ask your pastor for books; look up relevant passages in your concordance. Whenever you have time, study this topic until you grasp it.