|Series Theme: Bible Study Approaches|
Title: 24. Writing your own Meditations
How writing your own version can help understanding
If you have already looked at the page from Isaiah chapter 58, you will know our approach. It is simply to take an English version of the Bible and to rewrite it in your own words. This is not to replace the Bible, but simply to help us focus on what the Bible passage is really saying in our everyday language and expressions.
We have taken the whole of the book of Ecclesiastes, as a book that many people think is "dry", to show the wisdom of Solomon and how it is so applicable to our own age. If you wish to click on the chapter title in each case you can go and read the proper Bible version.
You will find that in an approach such as this we cannot pick up every detail in each chapter, but we have tried to convey the main meaning. We hope seeing it in this form will encourage you to go and read the original English in a modern Bible.
The Example : Ecclesiastes
Hi, I'm the teacher, son of David.
Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.
You know, everything is pointless really, it really is.
For instance, what do you get from all your hard work throughout your life?
Look, generations come and go, but the world just keeps on regardless.
You'll never see all there is. There's too much to see, too much to read, too much to hear.
It's all too much! And there's nothing new!
It's all been done before. Time passes so we've forgotten most people who've been on this planet already.
I decided on a life of study, what a task that was! I studied so much that I was wiser than any man who'd been before.
And I tell you, I've seen it all pointless! It's like chasing the wind!
The more you know, the more you realise you don't know!
Ecclesiastes, chapter 2
In my quest I thought I would check out pleasure what a pointless exercise that proved to be!
Much wine didn't seem to help!
So I undertook great projects I built great houses,
I planted vineyards, gardens, parks, and created reservoirs.
I became a great employer.
I had more farm stock that anyone's ever owned before.
I made a mint! I became the richest man in the world! What I wanted I had! Nothing was beyond my purse.
Yet when I looked back over all I had achieved, it just seemed so pointless what was it all for?
I thought, this is stupid, I've only got to leave it to my children and who knows what they'll do with it! I worked hard, and then realised that the poor fool is probably more content than me, and we'll both end up in a grave, so what's the point!
Actually I've come to see that the best one can do is to rejoice in who God's made you to be, and enjoy being that person, and being thankful to Him for having given you, you.
Time goes on, everything fits in time, one thing follows on from another, you can't force it.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
God's made it all and it's beautiful.
He's also put a sense of eternity into our hearts that takes our minds outside of time but we just can't work it all out with our limited, finite minds.
Yes, the best you can do in your limited life span is to live happily in the way God's designed you to be, then and then alone do you feel fulfilled.
I've also noted that God will hold each one of us accountable for our lives.
You see, just like the animals, we're all going to die one day and it's pointless to pretend otherwise.
So enjoy what you've got and who God's made you to be, in the days He's given you, because you can't know the future.
I've looked at what goes on, on this earth. I've seen oppression and hardship and the unfairness that goes on.
I've seen people working out of competition, but that's all pointless too.
It's far better to know peace than to be constantly stressed by pointless struggling for achievement.
Relationships, I've also noticed, are also important.
We're not made to live in isolation.
You know, it's better to be poor and wise, than rich and stupid.
I've also learnt a thing or two about going to God.
You do better to listen to Him than offer many words which tend to be meaningless.
Don't be rash in what you say to God. Remember who He is. He'll hold you to what you say.
Oh, back to money you can never have enough of it, so don't waste your time trying to get more and more. It's stupid never ever being satisfied.
The poor worker just gets on with it and knows peace. The rich entrepreneur gets so stressed he can't sleep properly. Is that stupid or is that stupid!
So you get more and more possessions! Why? You can't use them all! Somebody else will probably end up with them. You can't take them with you when you die.
No, I've come to see that the best you can achieve is to be content with what God allows you to have whether much or little to enjoy it, realise where it comes from, and be thankful to Him for it.
Ecclesiastes, chapter 6
This whole thing about possessions is crazy!
You can be someone who God has allowed to be very rich and with great honour, but unless you've got a right attitude towards God, it all seems totally meaningless.
You find you can't enjoy what you've got, and it probably ends up in someone else's hands, anyway!
All your efforts in life go into getting to consume, but you find you're never satisfied.
It doesn't matter how long you live, but if you haven't achieved that proper contentment, you'll never be truly happy, and just end up going to your grave in misery.
Ecclesiastes, chapter 7
You know, pondering death helps get everything in perspective. We're all going to die, so we need to understand life and death.
Fools make a lot of laughter and noise but achieve nothing in life, so their lives are pointless.
If you're a good man and you become corrupted, your life will become pointless.
Wisdom is a good thing to get hold of.
Think about God and what He's done. Realise you're not going to change what He decrees. Live in that light!
I've watched throughout my life and I've seen people living in extremes some people busting themselves to be good by their own efforts, and others letting go down the path of evil.
Get a right perspective with God and you'll realise that self-effort righteousness is as bad as self-centred wrong doing.
Look, I tried being wise by my own efforts. It was pointless, not getting me anywhere.
I realised that without God it was stupid. What I found was that God made men upright but men have gone off doing their own thing. Stupidity!
Ecclesiastes, chapter 8
Respect authority, it will do you good if you honour it, that's what it's there for, but if you are the authority, realise how small you are, keep it all in perspective.
I know people wrongly use authority, but it doesn't get them anywhere.
Don't try to be too clever in working all this out.
You'll see good people having a bad time of it, and bad people having a good time.
That's just what it's like living in a broken world.
But rest in God's love and enjoy what He's given you. Be who He's made you to be and enjoy it.
Ecclesiastes, chapter 9
Hey, we're all going the same way, the good and the evil we're all going to die and have to account.
But it's better to be alive than dead, so live to the full the life God gives you with gratefulness.
Whatever you've got to do, do it the best you can and enjoy it you don't know how many days you have ahead of you, so make the most of it.
You know, wisdom is better than strength, even if foolish people despise it.
Ecclesiastes, chapter 10
You know, you can spot a fool as he goes along the road, but they're not limited to the road.
They sometimes end up in authority positions.
You know stupidity really does muck up life, and in a whole load of ways stupidity spoils the way life could be if we only took notice of what God said.
Ecclesiastes, chapter 11
The trouble is that we struggle and strive but so often don't have a clue how God has made things to be.
Live fully for today and don't get too clever in making plans, for you don't know what might come tomorrow.
Ecclesiastes, chapter 12
Keep perspective by remembering God.
When you get old, remember how God has blessed you throughout your years.
Death may be ahead but simply rejoice in God's goodness while you still have days, otherwise everything will be meaningless.
The end of all this?
Keep a right relationship with God, enjoy all He's given you and made you to be, and be ready to answer for the life you've had.
Ecclesiastes is known for one of two of its most famous passages:
1:2 Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity."
Or as a contemporary modern version puts it:
Nothing makes sense! Everything is nonsense. I have seen it all-- nothing makes sense!
There is a time for everything, and a season
for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
But a phrase which crops up time and again is under the sun
Meaning from an earthly perspective ".
What is Solomon's message?
In Ecclesiastes Solomon declares that
37 times God is mentioned here. It is only God that makes sense of life, according to this man who was described as both the wisest man in all the earth and the richest man in all the earth.
We hope this example both shows an approach as to how to increase understanding, while at the same time helping this particular passage come alive in a new way.
We hope you both enjoyed it and were challenged by it.