Joy and pleasure, sorrow and pain are opposite
feelings related to the state of the body and the spirit. Solomon mentioned
many honorable sources of joy and pleasure. Most important is the happiness
obtained through acquiring wisdom.
Also remember those common everyday sources
of comfort that Solomon mentioned. Of course they do not comprise the whole
of life, but the Lord has provided them for us all to help compensate for
the sorrows of existence in this world. These include the following: The
satisfaction of our daily needs,
There is nothing better for a man, than
that he should eat and drink (Ecclesiastes 2:24; KJV).
I know that there is no good in them,
but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every
man should eat and drink (Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13; KJV).
Behold, that which I have seen to be good
and to be comely is for one to eat and to drink (Ecclesiastes 5:18;
And I commend enjoyment, for man has no
good thing under the sun but to eat, and drink, and enjoy himself, for
this will go with him in his toil through the days of life which God gave
him under the sun (Ecclesiastes 8:15; RSV).
Come, eat your food with joy and drink
your wine with a glad heart, for to do this has God's approval (Ecclesiastes
There is nothing better for a man than
that he should find enjoyment in his toil (Ecclesiastes 2:24; RSV).
also that it is God's gift to a man that
everyone should take pleasure in all his toil (Ecclesiastes :3:13;
So I saw the best thing for man was to
be happy in his work; that is what he gets out of life (Ecclesiastes
Behold, that which I have seen to be good
and to be comely is for one to enjoy good in all his labor, wherein he
laboreth under the sun, all the days of his life which God hath given him:
for this is his portion (Ecclesiastes 5:18; ASV).
Any man to whom God gives riches and
property, and grants power to partake of them, so that he receives his
lot and finds joy in the fruits of his toil, has a gift from God. For he
will hardly dwell on the shortness of his life, because God lets him busy
himself with the joy of his heart (Ecclesiastes 5:19, 20; NAB).
Wear white robes always, and spare not
oil for your head (Ecclesiastes 9:8; MOFFATI~).
and our wives.
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love,
all the days of your vain life, which he has given you under the sun, because
that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the
sun (Ecclesiastes 9:9; RSV).
Other sources of joy that Solomon mentions (which
I quote under separate headings) include good words, wise children, successful
achievement, various other physical comforts-indeed, all the fruits of
righteousness are designed to bring us the kind of joy and happiness that
the pleasure-seeking sinner cannot experience.
The merciful man doeth good to his own
soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh (Proverbs 11:17;
For God giveth to a man that is good in
his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail,
to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God.
This is also vanity and vexation of spirit (Ecclesiastes 2:26; KJV).
There are senseless, wasteful forms of pleasure.
For as the crackling of thorns under
a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity (Ecclesiastes
There are pleasures that eventually cause sorrow
and lead to grief. These are the many different vices practiced by fools:
those immediate pleasures which eventually add to the sorrows of the world
and bring grief to those who indulge in them.
There are many sources of sorrow and pain.
Indeed, this whole existence is a perpetual state of sorrow mixed with
joy. Even the greatest of our pleasures are inevitably accompanied by some
degree of discomfort.
Even in laughter the heart is sad, and
the end of joy is grief (Proverbs 14:13; RSV).
The more we "expand our consciousness" of reality,
the more we experience sorrow. Remember these words:
For in much wisdom is much grief: and
he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow (Ecclesiastes 1:18;
Yet there is some value in sorrow. It tends
to make us more serious, and life is best taken seriously. The wise do
not let themselves forget that sorrow is a natural part of this life, and
every man's earthly happiness ends in the tragedy of death.
It is better to go to the house of mourning,
than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and
the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for
by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of
the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the
house of mirth (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4; KJV).
Feelings of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain,
are used to promote wisdom and to encourage righteous living. Justly applied,
they can be powerful and effective sources of feedback regarding the consequences
of actions. But justice does not always prevail in this life, and sometimes
the consequences of actions seem to reward sin and punish godliness, thus
encouraging more evil.
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; KJV).
The innocent often suffer with the guilty. Nevertheless,
it is wise to reflect carefully upon your life when many sorrows come,
in order to see what may perhaps need correcting, because, recall, the
Lord chastens those whom he loves.
In the day of prosperity be joyful,
but in the day of adversity consider (Ecclesiastes
The experiences of sorrow and joy are pervasive
feelings, and deeply personal.
The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no outsider shares its joy (Proverbs 14:10; MOFFAIT).
All the days of the afflicted are evil:
but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast (Proverbs 15:15;
Be gentle and sympathetic with the afflicted.
As one that taketh off a garment in
cold weather, and as vinegar upon soda, so is he that singeth songs to
a heavy heart (Proverbs 25:20; ASV).
And Paul said,
Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep
with those who weep (Romans 12:15; RSV).
All of the things that bring joy and pleasure
can be used to combat sorrow and pain; including drugs that anesthetize
and sedate (intended for medicinal purposes). Lemuel said,
Procure strong drink for a man about
to perish, wine for the heart that is full of bitterness: let him drink
and forget his misfortune, and remember his misery no more (Proverbs
31:6, 7; JB).
In sum: There are many sources of happiness
and unhappiness in this life, all designed by the Lord to encourage right
Hope and Fear
Feelings of hope and fear refer to anticipate
consequences. Fear and anxiety involve the expectation of sorrow and/or
pain; hope is the expectation of joy and/or pleasure. Fear of the Lord
leads to wisdom and righteousness, which give confidence and hope, combating
all other fears.
When you lie down, you need not be afraid,
when you rest, your sleep will be sweet (Proverbs 3:24; NAB).
The wicked flee when no man pursueth:
but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1; KJV).
The hope of the righteous is for good; and Solomon
said that it will be realized. The hope of the wicked is for evil, and
evil will come upon him.
The hope of the righteous shall be gladness:
but the expectation of the wicked shall perish (Proverbs 10:28; KJV).
The desire of the righteous ends only
in good; the expectation of the wicked in wrath (Proverbs 11:23; RSV)
Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue
in the fear of the Lord all the day. Surely there is a future, and your
hope will not be cut off (Proverbs 23:17, 18; RSV).
When hope is realized it boosts the spirit.
when the desire cometh, it is a tree
of life (Proverbs 13:12; KJV).
Desire fulfilled is sweet (Proverbs
Our bodies have appetites, and the Lord provides
for them all. He also made our bodies such that the gratification of our
appetites gives pleasure. These are the simple pleasures intended to ease
the sorrows of this life. But there are those who become greedy for pleasure;
who overindulge themselves, turning their healthy appetites into lusts
of the flesh. The evils of both gluttony and drunkenness have been well
documented throughout history. Solomon warned against them both.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler;
and whosoever erreth thereby is not wise (Proverbs 20:1; ASV).
Be not among winebibbers, or among gluttonous
eaters of meat (RSV). For the drunkard and the glutton shall come
to poverty: and drowsiness shall loathe a man with rags (KJV) (Proverbs
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife?
Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?
Those who tarry long over wine, those who go to try mixed wine. Do not
look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down
smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.
Your eyes will see strange things, and you will be like one who lies down
in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast (RSV).
me, have they? but I'm not hurt. Beaten me? I don't feel anything. When
shall I wake up? I'11 ask for more of it (JB) (Proverbs 23:29-35).
If you have found honey, eat only enough
for you, lest you be sated with it and vomit it (Proverbs 25:16; RSV).
It is not good to eat much honey (Proverbs
Woe to you, O land, when your king is
a child, and your princes feast in the morning! Happy are you, O land,
when your king is the son of free men, and your princes feast at the proper
time, for strength, and not for drunkenness! (Ecclesiastes 10:16, 17;
Sins of sex are many and varied. Solomon gives
advice on only the most common kind—the illicit union between a man and
a woman. The focus of Solomon's words is upon the woman. She is most often
called by two names, strange and foreign; implying that she
does not lawfully belong. There are two kinds of women involved: the professional
looking for a living, and the amateur looking for a thrill. Only a little
is written by Solomon about the prostitute—none of it good.
My son, give me thine heart, and let
thine eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange
woman is a narrow pit (Proverbs 23:26, 27; KJV).
[a son] who keeps company with harlots
squanders his wealth (Proverbs 29:3; NEB).
The deadly one is the adulteress. (Remember,
adultery personifies all folly.) An unfaithful wife violates her commitment
both to the Lord and to her husband, and prowls about instinctively like
a viper seeking prey.
[the adulteress] forsakes the companion
of her youth, and forgets her pledge to her God (Proverbs 2:17; AAT).
she does not take heed to the path of
life; her ways wander, and she does not know it (Proverbs 5:6; RSV).
for a harlot may be hired for a loaf of
bread, but an adulteress stalks a man's very life (Proverbs 6:26; RSV).
her feet abide not in her house: now is
she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner
(Proverbs 7:11, 12; KJV).
For she sitteth at the door of her house,
on a seat in the high places of the city (Proverbs 9:14; KJV).
She also lieth in wait as for a prey (Proverbs
With animal cunning the adulteress uses two
major weapons: her sensual beauty and her smooth talk.
(wisdom will] deliver thee from the
strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words (Proverbs
For the lips of a strange woman drop as
an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil (Proverbs 5:3; KJV).
[thy father's commandment will] keep thee
from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with
her eyelids (Proverbs 6:24, 25; KJV).
[a father's words will] keep thee from
the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words
(Proverbs 7:5; KJV).
And, behold, there met him a woman with
the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart (Proverbs 7:10; KJV).
With much seductive speech she persuades
him; with her smooth talk she compels him (Proverbs 7:21; RSV).
She sits at the door of her house, on
a seat by the city highways, calling to those who pass by, who are keeping
straight on their ways (AAT). Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither:
and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters
are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant (KJV) (Proverbs 9:14-17).
The mouth of strange women is a deep pit:
he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein (Proverbs 22:14;
Solomon gives a graphic portrayal of how the
adulteress operates in the following story:
For at the window of my house I looked
through my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among
the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street
near her corner; and he went the way to her house, in the twilight, in
the evening, in the black and dark night: and, behold, there met him a
woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and
stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: now is she without, now in the
streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed
him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with
me; this day have I paid my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee,
diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed
with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.
I have per fumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take
our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves
(KJV). For my husband is not at home, he is gone a long journey; he
took in his hand a roll of silver, and will return to his house after many
days (LXX). With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her
smooth talk she compels him (RSV). He goeth after her straightway, as an
ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks
till an arrow pierces its entrails: as a bird rushes into a snare; he does
not know that it will cost him his life (RSV) (Proverbs 7:6-23).
The adulteress is, for all her craftiness, a
primitive fool-callous and brazen. Solomon said,
She is loud and stubborn (Proverbs
A foolish woman is noisy; she is wanton
and knows no shame (Proverbs 9:13; RSV).
And Agur said:
The way of an unfaithful wife is this:
she eats, then she wipes her mouth and says, "I have done no harm"
(Proverbs 30:20; NEB).
Of course, those addicted to adultery (or similar
sex sins) who prowl about preying upon the ignorant of mind and weak of
character are not always women. Under Moses' law adultery carried the death
penalty for both parties. It is a cardinal sin in its effects. It divides
that holy union between a man and his wife.
She lies in wait like a robber and increaseth
the faithless among men (Proverbs 23:28; RSV).
The prophet Ezekiel called these women murderers
because they destroy the sacred bond.
righteous men shall pass judgment on
them with the sentence of adulteresses, and with the sentence of women
that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is upon their
hands (Ezekiel 23:45; RSV).
Solomon gave strict warning against succumbing
to the temptation of adultery. One of the benefits of knowledge and understanding
is that it will open a man’s eyes to its danger; even as a child playing
on a busy street learns to appreciate the deadly dangers there.
[wisdom will] deliver thee from the
strange woman (Proverbs 2:16; KJV).
Hear me now therefore, O ye children,
and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her,
and come not nigh the door of her house (Proverbs 5:7, 8; KJV).
[wisdom will) keep thee from the evil
woman (Proverbs 6:24; KJV).
[wisdom will] keep thee from the strange
woman (Proverbs 7:5; KJV).
And now, O sons, listen to me, and be
attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her
ways; do not stray into her paths (Proverbs 7:24, 25; RSV).
A man who commits adultery, Solomon said, lacks
sense because the penalties are both severe and inevitable. Let no one
think he will get away with it. Exposure will come, and once exposed there
will be no escaping the sorrows.
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and
his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not
be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth
her shall not be innocent. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy
his soul when he is hungry; but if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold;
he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery
with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own
soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be
wiped away (KJV). For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will
not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation nor be
appeased though you multiply gifts (RSV) (Proverbs 6:27-35).
The many penalties for practicing adultery include
bitterness, abuse and wounds, dishonor and unforgiven reproach, loss of
wealth, even death and the destruction of his soul.
For her house inclineth unto death,
and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither
take they hold of the paths of life (Proverbs 2:18, 19; KJV).
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold
on Sheol (Proverbs 5:4, 5; ASV).
Lest thou give thine honour unto others,
and thy years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with thy wealth;
and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last,
when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction,
and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers,
nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! (KJV). Now I am
reduced to the depths of misery in the presence of the whole community
for the harlot is only out to earn a meal,
but the adulteress preys upon your very life (Proverbs 6:26; MOFFATT).He
goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool
to the correction of the stocks (KJV); till an arrow pierces its
entrails; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will
cost him his life (RSV) (Proverbs 7:22, 23).
For she hath cast down many wounded: yea,
all her slain are a mighty host (ASV). Her house is the way to hell,
going down to the chambers of death (KJV) (Proverbs 7:26, 27).
But he knoweth not that the dead are there;
and that her guests are in the depths of hell (Proverbs 9:18; KJV).
Adultery has been the downfall of a great many
men. Indeed, Solomon said,
yea, all her slain are a mighty host
(Proverbs 7:26; ASV).
Consider only famous people whose lives are
in the public eye. How long a list could be made of those (especially in
high, responsible positions) who fell from the top in a moment because
they succumbed to the sin of adultery; who fell and never regained their
position. Furthermore, Paul wrote this special warning:
Shun immorality. Every other sin which
man commits is outside of the body: but the immoral man sins against his
own body (1 Corinthians 6:18; RSV).
The Lord intended for marriage to satisfy the
sexual appetite. Solomon pleaded,
Drink from your own well, my son—be
faithful to your wife. Why should you beget children with women of the
street? (LB). Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with
thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy
thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt
thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of
a stranger? (KJV) (Proverbs 5:15-20).
In sum: Our appetites are sources of pleasure.
There is, therefore, the ever-present temptation to overindulge them. The
most serious of these fleshly vices is adultery-a very deceitful pleasure
causing ruin and death. The best defense against it is to understand its
Copyright 1997 by Walter
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