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Jul 5, 2020

Ecclesiastes 7:1-13

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. 2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. 5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. 6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity. 7 Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. 10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. 11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun. 12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. 13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what He has made crooked?

There is an internet meme well known to folks of my generation that goes something like, “We are the middle children of history—born too late to explore the earth, born too early to explore the galaxy.” This is usually followed by a third phrase: “born at just the right time to ___,” where the blank is often a piece of trivial piece of pop culture or contemporary politics, expressing mockery and dissatisfaction at our present cultural moment. In this time of spreading disease, social and political upheaval, and growing violence in the streets, do you find yourself discouraged? Do you find yourself longing for an imagined better future, or saying with the Preacher, “Why were the former days better than these?” This morning, the readings from God’s Word, and the hymns we sing in response, dispel this notion. Psalm 62:8 charges us to “trust in Him at all times,” and Psalm 27:14 instructs, “be strong, and let your heart take courage,” as we wait upon the Lord’s providence. The hymn Be Still, My Soul encourages us to “leave to thy God to order and provide,” because He guides the future as He has the past, and Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah reminds us that though we may face anxious fears, death, and destruction, we serve a God who is faithful to land us “safe on Canaan’s side.” The crooked world we find ourselves in this morning is the world He ordained for us. We are planted not too late, not too soon, but at just the right time. —Henry C. Haffner

Key Words: Death, Mourning, Sorrow, Sadness, Oppression, Wisdom
Keystone Verse: Consider the work of God: who can make straight what He has made crooked? (Ecclesiastes 7:13)