The Northfield

  2535 Shore Road

  Northfield, NJ 08225


Church of Christ




Like Well-Driven Nails

"The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright---words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd" (Eccl. 12:10 & 11).

The Book of Ecclesiastes has some very interesting lessons for us. The "Preacher" brings all his wisdom to bear to show us that wisdom, when separated from God, adds to a joyless despair in life. The Preacher wants to pass on what had been taught to him by both experience and by God. He could have just written that wealth, power and the sensual pleasures of life were all vanity, but he really wanted to capture our attention. To do that, he packaged his thoughts of what he had learned with a rather attractive bow. That bow being pithy proverbs that would be appealing to the ear and thus more easily remembered. After all, who can forget the haunting words of Chapter three, saying that "there is a time for everything." In 1959 Pete Seeger put these verses to music and the Byrds had a smash hit with it in 1965. The writer sought to write the truth, but couched it in "acceptable words" ("just the right words" NIV) so that the message might be more compelling and appealing to his listeners. Therefore it is easy to remember; "a time to tear down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh..........."

To be sure, Jesus taught in much the same way; "Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (Matt. 10:16). Jesus' message of truth was often embedded in metaphors and parables. I found in my own teaching career that the lessons the students remembered the best were those couched in a story. I might begin a lesson by saying; "let me tell you a little story." They would invariably groan a bit, but would listen, and hopefully "get it." The lessons of truth taught by Godly men through the ages would be useless if no one could remember them. They need to be "like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd." A good preacher needs to do more than just read the scripture in delivering a lesson. He needs to present the Word of God in such a way that the scriptures might come to life and have meaning. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes saw that form and substance go hand in hand. What benefit would there be in the good form if no one would be attracted to it and thus remember it?

A final thought...As important as it is to present the Shepherd's message in "attractive ways," the Preacher doesn't want us to solely rely on our own cleverness. In 1 Corinthians 2:4-6, Paul delineates between worldly wisdom and the wisdom of God. New books are written and published every day. For us as Christians, whatever one learns, however one couches the truth in attractive containers, unless the teaching springs from the love of God and our obedience to Him, just as the Preacher says....Vanity! Vanity! Everything is meaningless!"

Have a great day...Let your light shine for Him.... Love mark Phil. 4:11

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