Under the Sun vs. Over the Sun

April 1, 2013 at 10:59 am | Posted in Biblical farming, Ecclesiastes | 8 Comments
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The Book of Ecclesiastes takes a hard look at life “under the sun:” life from a mortal, earthly, finite perspective. This viewpoint may be contrasted with life “over the sun:” life from an eternal, Heavenly, infinite perspective.

Under the sun, life is monotonous; over the sun, it’s adventurous. Under the sun, wisdom is vain; over the sun, wisdom is extremely useful. Under the sun, wealth is futile; over the sun, wealth opens up great opportunities. Under the sun, death is certain; over the sun, death provides great motivation. The Christian life can be compared to a puzzle, a battle, a challenge, a race, a treasure hunt, or a pilgrimage. None of these are monotonous or boring. They are the stuff of true adventure.

In Ecclesiastes Chapter 11 Solomon sees life as an investment.

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2

Specifically, he compares it to a business or farming venture.

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

Ecclesiastes 11:3-6

Farming is a noble vocation. Farmers can take satisfaction in hard work and just trust God for the results. But being a shipping merchant and a farmer both require risk, faith in God, and patience.

Then Solomon goes on to recognize that “youth” is a special time in life.

Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

Ecclesiastes 11:7-9

God could create each new person fully grown, the way He did with Adam and Eve, but He has chosen to make life a progression, and that progression is one of His special gifts.

Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

Ecclesiastes 11:10

Youth is for enjoyment, but it also for preparation for adulthood. I don’t like the term “teenager,” because it is a modern marketing invention based upon a false evolutionary model of “adolescence.” In the Bible there are “children,” then there are “men” and “women.” There is no special “in-between” category. However, as we think about the pre-adult years, we recognize that they can be a time of joy or a time of misery. If you are a young adult, enjoy the energy and the freedom you have before your body begins to deteriorate and the responsibilities of life begin to drain you. The Christian life is not geared toward earthly retirement. Our “retirement” will be in Heaven, and even that will be full of activity. The unique thing about “youth” is that it is a time of life that, once past, does not come back again.

In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,

Ecclesiastes 12:3

The “keepers of the house” are your arms and legs. The “bowing” is indicative of bent knees and stooped shoulders. “Grinders” are teeth. “Windows” are eyes.

And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;

Ecclesiastes 12:4

“The doors shall be shut” means that you keep your mouth closed because you’ve lost your teeth. “The sound of grinding is low” because you can no longer chew your food. “Rising up at the voice of the bird” is in recognition of the trouble that elderly people have sleeping. “The daughters of music brought low” means that your voice has started to quaver.

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

The fear “of that which is high” means the fear that elderly people have of falling down. The “flourishing almond tree” is white hair. The burdened “grasshopper” is a picture of dragging yourself along at the end of summer. The “desire” which shall fail is the loss of some of the concupiscible desires (sex and appetite). The “long home” is eternity.

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

Ecclesiastes 12:6

Several images are given of things which are as fragile as an elderly person’s life.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-12

With age you learn that, even though life is unpredictable, there is wisdom in order. The best way to learn from life is the same way we should learn from the Bible: humbly.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 1:19-21 (emphasis added)

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  1. […] 1. Contextual Wisdom 2. Nothing New under the Sun 3. Darkness under the Sun 4. Break It Up! 5. Right Where You’re Supposed to Be 6. Do Birds Sing about Eternity? 7. Good Timing 8. Order in a Fallen World 9. Working for a Living 10. Fresh, Frail, or Fruitful? 11. Two Kinds of Heart Medication 12. Don’t Ruin Your Name 13. Would You Rather? (Wisdom of Solomon Edition) (*) 14. Don’t Lose Your Balance 15. Accurate Timing 16. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men 17. Fooling or Ruling? 18. A Fly in the Ointment 19. His Heart Was in the Right Place 20. A Little Bird Told Me 21. Fortifying the Fulcrum 22. Indulgent, Incompetent, or Industrious? 23. Life’s Big Adventure 24. Under the Sun vs. Over the Sun […]

  2. […] Under the Sun vs. Over the Sun […]

  3. […] 1. Contextual Wisdom 2. Nothing New under the Sun 3. Darkness under the Sun 4. Break It Up! 5. Right Where You’re Supposed to Be 6. Do Birds Sing about Eternity? 7. Good Timing 8. Order in a Fallen World 9. Working for a Living 10. Fresh, Frail, or Fruitful? 11. Two Kinds of Heart Medication 12. Don’t Ruin Your Name 13. Would You Rather? (Wisdom of Solomon Edition) (*) 14. Don’t Lose Your Balance 15. Accurate Timing 16. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men 17. Fooling or Ruling? 18. A Fly in the Ointment 19. His Heart Was in the Right Place 20. A Little Bird Told Me 21. Fortifying the Fulcrum 22. Indulgent, Incompetent, or Industrious? 23. Life’s Big Adventure 24. Under the Sun vs. Over the Sun […]

  4. […]             Under the Sun vs. Over the Sun […]

  5. Life is fragile and Solomon knew that. Thanks for writing such good posts on Ecclesiastes.

  6. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  7. […] of any party allegiance, and he illustrates this with a familiar Bible example: a vineyard or a farmer’s […]


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