27Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— 28which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. 29See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.
(Ecclesiastes 7:27-29 ESV)
In his quest to find the scheme of things – to understand what makes the world what it is (which he sought but did not find) – the Preacher (King Solomon) did find out thing about the world: there very few people who act wisely on the planet.
Yesterday Solomon told us that only the one who pleases God – the one who puts God first in his or her life – can escape the enticement of sin. Solomon searched for such people but he didn’t find very many.
In this passage Solomon opines on this truth via the use of a poetical construct: antithetical parallelism. In this literary device the same idea is stated twice, each from different perspectives with each perspective comprising part of the whole with both together comprising the entire whole.
This is a literary device used frequently in Hebrew poetry and one Solomon used quite often in his writings, including many proverbs [Proverbs 15:1;19:6 et. al ].
In today’s passage Solomon states the truth that a small minority of people are godly by stating that he found only one such man among a thousand but he had not found such a woman.
This is not a misogynistic statement by Solomon. He is not stating there isn’t a single woman who follows God. People who interpret this verse as such miss the use of antithetical parallelism.
Solomon is simply taking two parts (men and women) which comprise a population in total (the human race) to state a truth applicable to that population. His conclusion: not many people seek to please God with their lives.
This was not how God originally intended it, however. When God made the human race he made them upright (good) and placed them in a perfect world [Genesis 1:26-31].
But he did not preprogram us to behave a certain way. We are not software-driven robots. He gave us the option to chose how we would live. This is because God loves us and love does not control. Love allows others to think for themselves and make their own choices.
But instead of choosing to live as God designed us to, the human race sought out many schemes.
The Hebrew word translated “schemes” here has a very negative connotation. It is is חִשָּׁבוֹן (pronounced: khish-shaw-bone’) which means “a contrivance”. The English definition of “contrivance” is “a thing that is created skillfully and inventively to serve a particular purpose; the use of skill to bring something about”.
Rather than pursuing God’s wisdom and using that wisdom to run our lives, we invent our own wisdom to bring about our own desires. This is the precise reason the world is a mess.
We all do this in our own individual lives when we make choices that aren’t good for us such as not controlling our anger, getting divorced, stealing and lying. We also do it corporately when we as a society condone homosexuality, abortion, and same-sex marriage, among other atrocities.
We have the ability to understand and implement God’s will if we so chose. But we chose not to. Instead of living to please God we live to please ourselves.
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