"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 17, 2008
I have been reading in Ecclesiastes here lately. Both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were written by King Solomon, who was David's son, and was known for his great wisdom. I enjoy reading from both of these books, but in order to truly glean from the nuggets of truth and wisdom, you have to read them slowly and take them one verse at a time. They are not written in story form, and don't necessarily follow one particular thought pattern throughout a whole chapter.
The closest I've come to a story in Ecclesiastes is found in chapter 9, verses 14 and 15. Solomon writes, "There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man."
In one of my Bibles, it references those scriptures to II Samuel 20:16-22. Possibly Solomon was thinking of this particular incident, that happened when his father was king, when he penned those words. He writes that is was a poor wise man, but the story in II Samuel is actually about a wise woman. Perhaps he was using the generic term "man", which refers to mankind in general. Or possibly this was a story that he had heard growing up and he wrote what he had been told or remembered. He may have merely been writing a parable that resembles the incident in II Samuel.
Chapter twenty of II Samuel begins that there was a rebel, whose name was Sheba. He was stirring up trouble among the men of Israel, and getting them to turn against King David. David was ruler over both Israel and Judah. Israel deserted David and followed Sheba, but Judah remained loyal to their king.
David called for the men to assemble and gave the orders to pursue Sheba, lest he find fortified cities for himself and escape. Joab, the captain of David's army, and all his mighty men, along with the Cherethites and Pelethites, went out of Jerusalem to pursue Sheba. They went through all the tribes of Israel and came upon the city of Abel. They began a siege upon the city and battered the wall to bring it down.
Verse 16 says, "Then a wise woman cried out from the city, "Hear, hear! Please say to Joab, 'Come nearby, that I may speak with you.'" When he came near to her, the woman said, "Are you Joab?" He answered, "I am." Then she said to him, "Hear the words of your maidservant." And he answered, "I am listening."
She told him that she was among the peaceable and faithful in Israel. She told him, "You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?"
Joab answered, "Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not the case. But a man from the mountains of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has raised his hand against the king, against David. Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city."
Then the woman said to Joab, "Behold, his head will be thrown to you over the wall."
Verse 22 says, "Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people." They cut off the head of Sheba, and threw it out to Joab. Joab blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city.
When referring to this incident in Ecclesiastes chapter nine, Solomon continues in verses 16-18, "Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless, the poor man's wisdom is despised. And his words are not heard. Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good."
There is a man who has done numerous commercials for various household products, and my husband and I both find him very annoying. Whenever one of his commercials comes on, we always hit the mute button as quickly as possible. He never speaks in a normal voice, but always talks overly loud, almost to the point of yelling. It's like he thinks being really loud makes the products he's pitching sound more exciting. It has the opposite effect on me and Jon. Even if he was advertising a useful product that we could use, we wouldn't buy it for the simple fact that we find this guy obnoxious. But apparently there are a lot of people who listen to him and purchase the various products, or the advertisers wouldn't keep hiring him to make the pitches for them.
Many times, the one who speaks loudest is the one who people listen to and follow. When looking at our society today, there are many who want to have a cause and want to be idolized and followed. They will create groups and will protest and picket and get on their soapbox. It matters little if it's something worthwhile or legitimate, if they make a lot of noise, they'll be heard. And amazingly enough, they will get others to follow them.
Those who speak with wisdom, are often ignored or written off as being radicals. Sometimes it makes me think, "What's the use of speaking up or standing up for our beliefs? No one will listen to us anyway." But what if everyone who is listening to and obeying God were to stop speaking up and were silent? There would be absolutely no morals nor hope of God intervening and working in the hearts of people. The truth must be spoken and be seen in each of our lives.
I'm sure the woman in the Bible story, that I wrote about earlier, had some fear and trepidation when asking to speak to Joab. She may have stood on top of the wall and watched as the army surrounded the city. She probably could hear the soldiers battering the gate, trying to knock it in so that they could get in. She may have been waiting for one of the men to speak up and protect their city. She may have been told by family and friends, "Just be quiet and don't say anything. Joab won't listen to you anyway." She may have been extremely poor and felt inferior, and wondered if anyone would even listen to her. She may have even feared for her life, knowing that if she spoke up and Sheba or one of his followers heard her, they would kill her. But she was willing to overcome her personal feelings about herself and push past obstacles, and took a chance that if she spoke up her voice would be heard.
Apparently she knew that Sheba was inside their city, because after her conversation with Joab, he was killed and his head thrown over the wall. Perhaps she didn't know the circumstances behind why he was hiding out within the walls of their city.
This woman, in great wisdom, cried out and spoke to Joab on behalf of her city and the people who lived within the walls. The result was that the enemy was slain and their city was saved. If she hadn't spoken up, the soldiers would have likely gotten through the wall sooner or later, and there may have been many innocent lives lost.
Her name is not mentioned in the Bible. In fact, Joab and David's men probably never knew what her name was. There is no mention that David sent a reward to her for handing over the enemy. We don't know her background or what happened to her after this event. In fact, Solomon wrote that this poor woman was not remembered.
Often, people only want to get involved or speak out if they think there is something in it for themselves. They want to be noticed or be rewarded for their efforts. It takes a special individual who is willing to fight for justice and truth, and do it with integrity and a humble spirit, not caring whether or not anyone knows their name. We need to lose the attitude, "What's in it for me".
We need to be careful who we're listening to and supporting. Just because someone has wealth, a large following, or is a great orator doesn't mean that they are right or wise. It's easier at times to go along with the crowd, even if we disagree, than to stand up for what we believe and what God's Word proclaims as truth.
We also need to be careful that if we're fighting or speaking up for a cause, or recommending a particular person as worthy to be heard, or if we're handing out opinions and advice; that we are not just shooting off our mouth, but are speaking wisely.
My prayer here lately has been that God would give me wisdom and discernment; that when I hear individuals speaking that I will know if they are speaking truth and are to be trusted. That includes people within the religious, political or social realm. I don't want to be swayed by charisma or excitement or words that sound good. I pray that God will place a guard over my heart and mind daily, and that I will hear His voice and not be enticed away by man's promises or words. I want to listen to those who speak with wisdom, and learn from their words.
It may seem hard to find a way to be a hero. I have two nephews who are in armed forces. They have each distinguished themselves in their service, and in how they treat their peers. And they have excelled because of it. They've found great ways to be heroes, even though their names will probably never appear in history books. And they probably won't have songs sung about them.
Others can have profound impacts on the people around them, too. Again, they may never be held up as heroes. Mostly, I'm thinking of good parents. I know quite a few good parents, and to avoid being sappy, I'll refrain from naming them. But my point is that good parents do so because they are helping someone else, not for reward, payment, or honors. I've known one divorced father who worked hard, and sent most of his income to his children. They never knew because their mother hid it from them. But he sent it anyway. That's the kind of thing it takes to be a hero.
¾ cup Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Ginger
Chicken -- cut up
Mix all ingredients (except chicken) in a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Put chicken in crockpot and pour sauce on top. Cook on medium heat approximately 6 hours.
One of my husband's favorite things to do when he wakes up on Friday mornings is to turn off the alarm clock for the weekend. This past Saturday he was gone most of the day and was busy working on a project that he's currently involved in designing. Apparently he was really tired that night and slept soundly. Sometime around 3:00 or so the next morning, he reached over and turned the alarm clock on. It woke me up, and I asked what he was doing. He said he had forgot to turn it on before he went to bed. I told him that it was Sunday. He was awake enough by then to realize what he had done, and turned it back off.
He told me the next morning that when he had done that, he had been dreaming that it was Sunday night and we had been sitting in the living room watching TV. I went to bed, and he said he'd be up in a few minutes. He finished what he was doing and turned the computer off and realized that it was 2:00 in the morning. (Remember, this is just my husband's dream here.) When he came upstairs, I was in bed asleep and he was really mad at me for not telling him how late it was, because he had to go to work the next morning. He woke me up and was asking me why I hadn't told him that it was so late. I told him that I had came upstairs at 10:00 and gone to bed, and didn't know why he had stayed up so late. He knew that he hadn't been downstairs for that many hours after I had gone upstairs and was mad at me, in his dream. He remembered that he hadn't turned the alarm clock on, and that's when he reached over in his sleep and turned it on.
Thankfully, he realized that it was only a dream and wasn't still mad at me the next morning!!
Whomever blows hot air, speaks the loudest.
The humble and wise, don't feel the need to yell to be heard.
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Loretta & Jon