Hard-Headed

February 28, 2014 at 11:06 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 1 Comment
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My wife’s mother, who has been married to the same man for almost fifty years, gives this marriage advice: “If you want your marriage to work, you must be hard-headed about the right things.” Generally speaking, the expression “hard-headed” means stubborn. I think what she means, though, is that when times get tough in your marriage, you need to be downright stubborn about keeping the vows you made before God, and committing to stay together and work through the difficulties, no matter what.

I could not find the expression “hard-headed” in the Bible, but I did find a reference to hardening of the face.

A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.

Proverbs 21:29

This kind of hardening is not good. It refers to stubbornness that ignores wisdom. It is the outward result of the inner hardening of the heart.

The hardening of the heart is a process, and a head is hardened by repeated stubbornness. The hardening of the heart involves both our own wills and God’s will, and a hard head is the result of God finally reinforcing what we want to think, anyway. The hardening of a man’s heart occurs when God gives him over to his own way. A hard-headed man can’t “change his ways,” because they’re his ways, not God’s ways. The hardening of a person’s heart negates that person’s warning system. It keeps him from seeing the danger in the direction he’s “heading” (no pun intended). A hard-headed person is sometimes called a dullard. He’s sleepy and lulled into a false sense of security. When someone is hard-headed, he is unable to see the danger which is abundantly clear to others. Don’t be hard-headed when it comes to sin and disobedience. The only thing hard about a believer’s head when it comes to sin should be his helmet.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Psalm 119:5

Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Ecclesiastes 8:1

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Accurate Timing

March 11, 2013 at 9:48 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 3 Comments
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Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.

Ecclesiastes 8:3 (emphasis added)

There are going to be times when we find ourselves under the authority of someone whose orders do not seem like the best ideas to us in the circumstances. When this happens, do not be in too big a hurry to try to get out from under that authority.

Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.

Ecclesiastes 8:5 (emphasis added)

Wisdom is more than just knowing what to do. It’s also knowing when to do – or not to do – it.

Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.

Ecclesiastes 8:6 (emphasis added)

It’s not easy to have good timing. What helps is remembering that God has a purpose in what is happening.

For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

Ecclesiastes 8:7 (emphasis added)

Even things that are fairly certain to come to pass are often unknowable as to when they will come to pass.

There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

Ecclesiastes 8:8 (emphasis added)

Often we are forced to realize that it’s not up to us whether something will happen, nor is it as much up to us as we sometimes think to determine when it will happen.

All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.

Ecclesiastes 8:9 (emphasis added)

It’s not a question of whether you are going to be under authority – or even whether the one in authority over you is going to abuse that authority. The question is the timing of it

And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.

Ecclesiastes 8:10 (emphasis added)

Forgetfulness is sometimes simply the byproduct of the passage of time. Time can heal wounds or it can cause us to repeat our mistakes.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 (emphasis added)

When a famous celebrity commits a crime, and then, due to the skill of his or her legal team, or a technicality in the law, he or she seems to “get away with it,” we must remember that, in God’s economy, no one really gets away with anything. If a condemned person’s sentence is not executed “speedily” enough for our liking, it would still be evil for us to execute it ourselves.

Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:

Ecclesiastes 8:12 (emphasis added)

God may “prolong” the days of “sinners” to give them a chance to repent, but we do not have a guarantee on how long the prolonging is going to be. Every second after a sin is a prolonged second, so it is safer to live in fear before God.

But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

Ecclesiastes 8:13

The prolonged days of the wicked will not seem prolonged from their point of view.

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 (emphasis added)

Mirth means enjoyment. It can mean eating, drinking, having fun, even working – if we do it in the fear of the Lord. Trust God’s timing. He’s never late and He’s never early.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

October 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Ecclesiastes | 7 Comments
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John Steinbeck’s famous novel, Of Mice and Men, takes its title from a line in a poem by Robert Burns. The idea is: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” King Solomon (centuries before either Burns or Steinbeck) considered this idea, as well. However, Solomon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, was well aware that most of the plans in a fallen world are evil plans.

But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

Ecclesiastes 8:13

Some of the most influential people in our world today are extremely wicked. They have “big ideas” and “big plans,” but these men, despite their influence, are actually very small men, and their ideas are of little consequence, compared to God’s plans. As one wise preacher said, “A sure sign that the sun is setting is that small men cast long shadows.”

Some of our biggest ideas and cleverest inventions are badly misused. We have the internet – and it is mostly used for trivial or wicked things. We have television, but most of what we watch is vain entertainment. We have the ability to store vast amounts of music on small disks or devices, but most popular songs are completely foolish. We carry cell phones with us everywhere, but too much of our communication amounts to gossip.

As finite creatures we are not able to grasp the comprehensiveness or the beauty of God’s plans. Christians want to know God – even to know the mind of God – but the mysteries of God keep us from making one of the mistakes of Adam and Eve.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:17 (emphasis added)

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:5-6

We need to remember that God wants us to be wise, but we also need to remember that true wisdom comes from Him, and we can never be wiser than Him.

This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

Ecclesiastes 9:3

Death is the “last enemy” from the perspective of “under the sun,” but one day Christ Jesus will put all things under His feet.

For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

I Corinthians 15:25-26

In Ecclesiastes Chapter 9, we get some advice on marriage:

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 9:9

Solomon spoke these words from experience. He had he turned away from God’s plan for marriage and turned to idolatry. Marriage is a gift from God. I Peter 3:7 calls a husband and wife joint heirs of grace.

For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

Ecclesiastes 9:12

We all make our plans, but ultimately what matters most is our part in God’s grand plan.

Don’t Lose Your Balance

October 8, 2012 at 10:33 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 3 Comments
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Ecclesiastes Chapter 8 explains how important wisdom is – especially when we’re in a stressful situation or when we are being oppressed. There are times when it’s wiser to obey – even if the orders we are following don’t seem like the wisest choice. However, there are other times when it’s better to disobey, to run away, or even to fight back. Only God can give us the wisdom to do the right thing at the right time.

Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

Ecclesiastes 8:6-7

The Bible asks this question rhetorically because the obvious answer is “only God.” Do we believe God is in control, or do we think we can control God?

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 8:15

“Balance” can be sort of dirty word in Christian teaching, because, understanding that we have access to absolute truth in the revealed Word of God, the concept of “balance” sometimes smacks of compromise. But balance is necessary in the Christian life. You are not unimportant to God, but you are not the center of the universe either. God says that we are to work and keep ourselves busy. We are to do what’s right. We are to enjoy eating, drinking, living, laughter, but remember, the pleasures of life are given to us by God. They are not replacements for God, and they are not to become little gods unto themselves.


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