Monday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 10-12 (NKJV)
10:1 Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor. 2 A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart at his left. 3 Even when a fool walks along the way, he lacks wisdom, and he shows everyone that he is a fool. 4 If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post; For conciliation pacifies great offenses.
5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun, as an error proceeding from the ruler: 6 Folly is set in great dignity, while the rich sit in a lowly place. 7 I have seen servants on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants.
8 He who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent. 9 He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits wood may be endangered by it.
10 If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success.
11 A serpent may bite when it is not charmed; The babbler is no different.
12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up; 13 The words of his mouth begin with foolishness, and the end of his talk is raving madness. 14 A fool also multiplies words. No man knows what is to be; Who can tell him what will be after him?
15 The labor of fools wearies them, for they do not even know how to go to the city!
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning! 17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time—for strength and not for drunkenness!
18 Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks.
19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry; But money answers everything.
20 Do not curse the king, even in your thought; Do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; For a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter.
11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. 2 Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth.
3 If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; And if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. 4 He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
5 As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything.
6 In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.
7 Truly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun; 8 But if a man lives many years and rejoices in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. All that is coming is vanity.
9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. 10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.
12:1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”: 2 While the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened, and the clouds do not return after the rain; 3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow down; When the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look through the windows grow dim; 4 When the doors are shut in the streets, and the sound of grinding is low; When one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of music are brought low; 5 Also they are afraid of height, and of terrors in the way; When the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is a burden, and desire fails. For man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets.
6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. 7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.”
9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
It’s easy to tell that the writer of Ecclesiastes was well acquainted with life. He knew the hopes and dreams of youth. He knew the ups and downs of middle age. And he knew the problems, weaknesses, and defeats of old age. He had seen life and was convinced that he could do very little about where it would go and how long it would last. This world and all of us will end physically. “For man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets.”
Lest this leave us without hope, he goes on to say, “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken … Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. ‘Vanity of vanities’, says the Preacher, ‘All is vanity.’ … Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.”
St. Paul says it this way: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:4-7).
We pray: O Lord, by Your mercy, keep Your Church from all things hurtful and lead us to all things profitable; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.