Thursday, February 29, 2024

Words of the Wise


Well-driven nails by One Shepherd !! 
This morning in my Bible reading I focused on two passages - one from Ecc. 12 and the other from Acts 16.  
Ecclesiastes  12:11 --  I love the words of this passage, they always stir my heart-emotion.
Let me quote the words .. 
"The words of the wise are like goads, 
and the words of the scholars are like well-driven nails, 
given by one Shepherd, "
Do you see the pictures painted in this verse?  

Goads -- are farming implements , a round stick with a pointed end used to urge cattle to move forward, or in the right direction.  So to apply the analogy we see that the words of the wise are meant to be 'sharp' as in they get our attention and spur us on in the way we should go. 

The next picture is that of a carpenter driving nails into the wood.  My dad was a carpenter and how often I watched him drive one nail after the other with unfailing precision straight into the wood.   Here the analogy points to the fact that words from the wise or the wise scholar will not 'knock' us off course, will not cause us to bend to the right or to the left but will encourage us to stay on a straight path.  

And the 'source' of these good words?  The last picture is that of the Shepherd.  Who is a Shepherd but one who cares for his sheep. He will watch over them, protect them, feed them, care for their health and well-being.  And the pivotal word here is ONE ... Who is the ONE Shepherd but Jesus ... the WORD made flesh in the one who is a faithful and true Shepherd. All the words that are 'wise'  ,that are 'true' come from ONE source - "I am the way, the TRUTH..!".  Truth is the kind of thing that defines 1 plus 1 equals 2.   Any 'word' contrary, is immediately recognized as being false. 

In John 16:13 Jesus - the ONE Shepherd -  promises that when the Holy Spirit comes, whom He calls the Spirit of Truth, He will guide us into ALL truth.  He will only repeat the words of the ONE Shepherd.  
You and I and every believer have the indwelling Spirit of Truth, who guides us into all truth. 
But the enemy is also at work to distract us from hearing/recognizing that 'voice'.  We are easily moved to doubt we are 'discerning' God's Voice , we are overwhelmed with the amount of info and knowledge and media voices that bombard us daily. And so - too often- that soft voice is covered by the noise around us.   
Self-doubt is the most effective tool in the enemy's hand isn't it?  We are quick to second guess whether it was our own thought/feeling or if we were discerning the nudge of the Spirit., and we tend to err on the side of caution and surmise that it was our own 'words'.   I want to encourage you to be confident in knowing that you CAN and DO hear the voice of the ONE Shepherd through His Holy Spirit that lives within you.  

in Acts 17:11  The Bereans are commended, praised, because they checked what Paul was teaching , against the words of the One Shepherd.  If Paul came as guest speaker to our church do you think we would all be checking to  see if he was speaking 'truth' ?  I don't think so ... and yet  if the Bereans were praised for checking Paul's teaching for themselves .. and they only had the Old Testament!!  -  how much more should we heed the warning to be discerning - to check for ourselves what we hear - no matter who the 'teacher' is ..  (myself certainly included!!!)   Know for yourself what 'words' are well driven nails given by ONE Shepherd - the Spirit of truth !!  

The second passage I focused on this morning was an account of fitting life-examples of the Ecc. passage. In Acts 16. we have snap-shots of the 'word' being spoken and how it was received and by whom. 

The first example is Timothy who met Paul, who desired to have Timothy join him in spreading the 'word'.  We know Timothy gladly responded and in verse 4 we see that Paul and Timothy delivered the 'gospel truth' as it had been determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.  The 'words' agreed.
The second example was a man from Macedonia whom Paul and  Timothy and Silas were sent to preach the 'word' - again the man heard and believed. 

The third example is a woman named Lydia, who was obviously a wealthy independent woman. How do we know?  She had her own business - a weaver of purple (worn only by the rich) she was leading a group of women,  and she had the authority to open her home and hospitality to Paul and company.. She was already a worshipper of God but verse 14 says that she 'opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul".  She discerned the 'words spoken by ONE Shepherd" 

The fourth example is the demon-possessed girl.  She followed Paul and his friends proclaiming that they spoke the 'words of truth'.  Paul cast the demons out of her and she was set free, to the anger of those who had used her for their monetary gain!  

The fifth and last example is the keeper of the prison that Paul and Silas were cast into.  When God sent an earthquake to get the prison keeper's attention as well as set Paul and Silas free, the jailer received the word of truth and he and his household were saved !!  

how beautiful , how powerful are the words of Truth.  Truth has the power to set free, to change anyone who receives it ... whether a  Greek youth, a man from a foreign city,  a rich business  woman, a demon-possessed girl  or a jailor doing his job!  

I love how in each of these examples the word 'spread' through the one who first heard and received the 'word', to impact their sphere of social contact.   
May we learn from these examples and know how powerful the unchanging truth is and may we be discerning so that our 'words' will be well-driven nails that will not cause someone to 'bend' from the truth, but will be life to those who hear us. 

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