“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4).”
Yesterday was the last day of classes for this term at the school where I teach. You could almost hear the collective sigh coming from both teachers and students.
This is because our method of teaching and studying is intensive. The students receive a lot of material in a short period of time, and are expected to produce results. The teachers spend a lot of time producing this material, coaching their students to grasp it, and evaluating the results.
The effect of all this after several weeks is that we are all tired. Tomorrow grades will be in and then we will gather for a picnic at a local park. Time for some rest and recreation.
Solomon wrote,” Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body(Ecclesiastes 12:12b)”. I can almost hear the collective ‘Amen’ from my colleagues and our students along with their sighs.
All one has to do is go to any bookstore or bookseller’s website to confirm the truth of Solomon’s words about books. The plethora of printed material out there is almost beyond belief. Most of it is probably not worth reading.
Mankind is certainly capable of accomplishing a lot with words. God observed this in the early days of our sojourn on this planet when a particular culture began a massive building program.
At that time, everyone spoke the same language, and people were effective in using their words. This came as no surprise to God, as He created men in His own image. Noting their potential, God thought it best to mix things up and confuse their language. Otherwise, He figured they would be able to accomplish just about anything (Genesis 11:1-8).
Allowing humans to go hogwild in their creativity wasn’t a good thing in God’s view. He knew that many of our achievements would be evil and contrary to His plan for us, as we are a fallen race. The evidence is there even today that God was wise in thinking this. We only need to read today’s newspaper to find scientific experimentation gone awry.
Part of the reason we are so effective at creating wondrous technology today is because the effects of God’s actions at the Tower of Babel have been rescinded in this age of globalization. In fact, I could be accused of aiding and abetting this restoration of a lingua franca because I teach English to speakers of other languages.
It is unfortunate, though, how we use words today. Our communications are used to demean, deceive and confuse our fellow man. Words are also improperly handled in other ways. For example, a recent president became famous for his ability to parse words to his benefit. Another one was renowned for bungling his use of the English language.
There’s only one document on Earth where language which is efficacious from God’s perspective can be found: the Bible. Matthew Henry quotes John Selden, one of the most learned men in 17th century England, in relation to the value of the Bible over other books. Henry says, “The great Mr. Selden subscribed to this when he owned that in all the books he had read he never found that on which he could rest his soul, but in the holy scripture…”.
Solomon is an example of a biblical author who can be trusted. After all, he was the wisest man in history, having his wisdom conveyed to him by God himself. He was a conscientious writer, teacher and thinker. He was careful about his choice of vocabulary and his content was “upright and true” (Ecclesiastes 12:9,10).
If godliness and rest for your soul are goals in life, then reading and studying the books of Solomon in the Bible is a good place to start . He wrote three of them. Indeed, reading the rest of the Scriptures is advisable also.
When I was a young man, the objective on my resume stated that I wanted to “use words to influence people”. There’s no better people to pattern myself after to accomplish this objective than Solomon and the other biblical authors.
As John Selden said, the Bible is food for the soul, good for nourishing ourselves and others.