Week 24 Chronological Bible Reading – 2014
Week 24 – 2014 June
Monday 16 Proverbs 25-27
Tuesday 17 Proverbs 28-29
Wednesday 18 Proverbs 30-31; Psalm 127
Thursday 19 Song of Songs
Friday 20 1 Kings 11:1-40; Eccles 1-2
Saturday 21 Ecclesiastes 3-7
Sunday 22 Eccles 8-12; 1 Kings 11:41-43; 2 Chronicles 9:29-31
Song of Songs – Author: Solomon; Date: Circa 965 B.C.
The purpose behind the Song of Songs has become a controversial topic in theological circles. Some scholars regard this book purely as an allegory, meaning that fictional characters are employed to teach the truth of God’s love for His people. Such a nonhistorical view, however, is contrary to all principles of normal interpretation and must be rejected. Others rightly understand the book to be a historical record of the romance of Solomon with a Shulammite woman. The “snapshots” in the book portray the joys of love in courtship and marriage; they also counteract the extremes of both asceticism and lust. The rightful place of physical love, within marriage only, is clearly established and honored.
Much as the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple was the holiest of all places on earth, so the Song of Songs is the greatest of Solomon’s songs. It unashamedly praises monogamous love, the love of one woman and one man.
There are dozens of variations in understanding the poem’s plot and movement. But the point is still clear—the best love is faithful love, the kind that cannot be seduced by power and wealth. Although the song uses no names of God, it is fitting that the rabbis allegorized the song as Yahweh’s love for Israel, and the church fathers looked to it as Christ’s love for His church; for whether on a secular or spiritual plane, love is fidelity.
Ecclesiastes – Author: Solomon; Circa 935 B.C.
The message of Ecclesiastes may be stated in the form of three propositions:
1 – When you look at life with its seemingly aimless cycles (1:4f) and inexplicable paradoxes (4:1; 7:15; 8:8), you might conclude that all is futile, since it is impossible to discern any purpose in the ordering of events.
2 – Nevertheless, life is to be enjoyed to the fullest, realizing that it is the gift of God (3:12-13, 22; 5:18-19; 8:15; 9:7-9).
3 – The wise man will live his life in obedience to God, recognizing that God will eventually judge all men (3:16-17; 12:14).
Ecclesiastes is traditionally ascribed to Solomon during his latter years. It is usually understood as a pessimistic and even secular reflection on the futility of life. But in truth, Ecclesiastes offers profound and unparalleled information on the nature of true happiness.
The “Teacher” or “Preacher” who narrates the poem describes life “under the sun” as meaningless—as “vanity” or “vapor.” He tries every way “under the sun” of finding meaning and happiness but finds nothing but pain. He refers to God only by the basic term Elohim, never by the covenant name Yahweh, which cannot be perceived “under the sun”—without God’s self-revelation.
The Teacher was unusually observant. He could not ignore the exceptions to wisdom: the righteous dying young, servants ruling masters, the wicked escaping punishment. He tried to find a way of life “under the sun,” that is, one that did not honor the God who is “over the sun”—the God who has created the world and revealed His will. But every alternate avenue was a dead end.
Yet, in all his searching, the Teacher concluded that there is indeed adequate good and that God has given people plenty to enjoy: the benefits of the norms outnumber the seeming injustices of the exceptions. Thus he encourages wisdom over folly, discipline over excess, and obedience to God over self-centeredness.
“Under the sun,” we cannot perceive all of God’s purpose. But we can trust that He is good and that His will, in the long run, will triumph. If we, too, concentrate on the norms rather than the exceptions, we will enjoy the life God intends.