Solomon lays out several principles for a good life. If we truly listen and learn God’s words we will do well. The fear of the Lord is the final key.
Going through the words of God, through Solomon, in this section builds brick upon brick a firm foundation for a man. My bible helps provided a chart that outlines the fine points covered. I wanted to give you a link to see this chart but I only have the one for a kindle to access. When I tried locating it on line I found what I thought would get me there only to wind up in a paid service site. I guess you’ll just have to see it through my eyes. Better still, we will let the Holy Spirit take us where He will and not worry about a chart to lead the way.
The very first brick Solomon lays is obedience to God’s words. We are told that following God’s commandments leads to life. God’s commandments ARE life. He didn’t give one command that lead anywhere but to life, health, and relationship. We are not bound by the Law of Moses any longer but following God’s Ten Commandments is still very much essential to our daily lives. These commandments start with relationship with God and end with relationship with man. They keep BOTH healthy; WHEN we follow them.
The next brick deals with compassion on those in need. Those who are “generous” to the poor are not asking “What’s in it for me”. Their fingers are not being pried open through some impassioned plea. Their hearts are, instead, open to the needs around them. They are not overcome by those needs but they see places where they can be of help and take the steps to do so. They don’t require an earthly reward either. They go about the work placed before them with a heart full of love and wait for a return from God alone.
Brick number three is to put your own house in order. You cannot expect to be a good witness if you don’t care for your own children. By disciplining your children you show that you love them. You care about their future. DON’T GIVE UP ON THEM! As long as there is breath in their bodies there is hope. If you abandon them there is none to stand for them. Sometimes that discipline means letting them suffer the earthly consequences of their actions. Love does not hide them away from the world but guide them through it to see them become the person God intended them to be. A person who won’t discipline their children sets them up for ruin and death.
Next comes advice on avoiding ill-tempered friends. Solomon specifically points out that those who easily lose their temper wind up in trouble for it. If you hitch your life to theirs you will be dragged into every problem they create. If you help them out of their problems you will be forever doing it; again and Again and AGAIN. This brick runs smack up against the last one if it is your child who is ill-tempered. As a parent you can’t avoid them forever but you can help them learn from their own mistakes by not covering up their misdeeds. Don’t deliver them from their problems but be waiting on the other side to embrace them after they learn the lesson God has for them.
Brick five entails being willing to listen to instructions. Life is NOT easy and if we refuse to listen to instructions we will get nowhere. We will be going around in circles forever. Instructions from godly sources help us avoid some of the pitfalls others have wandered into. They are the part of God’s roadmap for our lives.
This brick comes with some conditions too. Listening to instructions and planning out a good course for your life is wise but only God has the full blueprint for our lives. “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” When your plans line up with His word you have a LOT better chance of seeing them come through. For those who love Him, He has a way of redirecting our path to fit His ultimate purposes. He DOES have a plan and purpose for each of our lives. We can refuse to comply with it, for a time, but He even used Pharaoh to bring about His plans for Israel. What chance do I have of making MY OWN way? Where He leads me I WILL follow.
The bricks God identifies for us are to be applied in a certain order. They are ALL useful to us but unless laid properly, the end looks nothing like what the diagram shows. It reminds me of the child’s toy the “Rock-a-Stack.” If one color is put on out of order there are gaps in the process. Each ring is created to fit the diameter of the central tube at one level. ALL rings fit but only when placed in order. God has lessons for us to learn but only when we are ready for them. Skipping ahead because you don’t like the one you are currently going through messes up the final design. Sure, He can fix what we mess up, but we WILL have to go back and do it again according to His design.
The last brick would be better thought of as the mortar holding everything together. Steadfast love is what enables us to care for the poor, train up our children, avoid bad company and prompts us to seek instructions. Love is essential in every relationship. When all else fails, hold fast to love.
The MOST IMPORTANT part of this whole process is the framework that keeps things in order. That framework is “The fear of the Lord.” Not a trembling, cowering in the corner kind of fear but the awe and respect kind. One that recognizes that He is God and I am not, as well as desiring a true relationship with Him. Without relationship, God is seen as someone to either cower from or rail against.
I’ve heard it asked many times, “How can a loving God let ____ happen?” This is the cry of one who doesn’t truly know His heart. First, God doesn’t LET things happen, Satan and sin does. God gave man free will and he used that free will to corrupt God’s creation. This world is NOT in the pristine form He made it to be. Man was given dominion over this world and he sold it to Satan. From that moment on, bad things have happened. It is God’s mercy and grace that pulls us OUT of the path of destruction Satan has planned for this world. But there will be times when we too have to walk through the hard places sin has created. Sickness, disease, natural disasters, hunger, violence, and even death will touch our lives in some degree or another. God protects His children from the ultimate death that sin brings. Those who have given their hearts to Him will have eternal life. Some trouble probably lies between there and here. It can ONLY be overcome by trusting in His framework and building a life of promise with Him at its heart.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Father God, I trust YOU to build my life according to YOUR purposes. I want my life to reflect YOUR design, not my own. Thank You for each of the bricks You have laid in my life. Thank You for the framework to build within and the mortar to hold it all together. Some days I feel like my life is a sturdy construction and other days I feel like a pile of broken timbers. As long as I belong to You, I KNOW that You will make something beautiful out of my life. Thanks for filling in the gaps I left too. It wasn’t much fun going back to fix the mistakes but I KNOW the end result is much better for it. Thank You for NEVER giving up on me!