This week we finish up the books of poetry in the Old Testament as we read Ecclesiastes and the entire book of Song of Solomon. Also attributed to King Solomon, Ecclesiastes seems at times like a reflective autobiography. The author proclaims all of the actions of humantiy to be "vain, futile, empty, meaningless, temporary, transitory or mere breath" (depending on the translation!) because all of life ends in death. So we are to focus all of our efforts towards that which is above this life: "The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep His commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone" (12:13).
The last book of poetry is also known sometimes as "Song of Songs" but most people remember it because of its content. If it were a movie it would probably have an "R" rating because of the way the physical relationship between the man and the woman is described in detail. This book is always a reminder to me that when God created us he created our whole person - sexuality included - and that it is a gift to be celebrated within the right contexts.
Then we transition into the first of the prophetic books. There are 5 major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and 12 minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi). The distinction between "major" and "minor" has nothing to do with importance and everything to do with the size of the book. And you will find that these are not in any kind of chronological order and eventually will bounce back and forth between prophets to the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The book of Isaiah is named for the prophet Isaiah who ministered to the southern kingdom of Judah for a period of about sixty years, through the reign of four kings. Many of Isaiah's prophecies concern a Savior and seem to be answered in the person of Jesus Christ. Consider Isaiah 7:14 for an example: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."
Here is the schedule:
18, Sunday: Proverbs 29 - Ecclesiastes 1
19, Monday: Ecclesiastes 2-5
20, Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 6-9
21, Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 10 - Song of Solomon 1
22, Thursday: Song of Solomon 2-5
23, Friday: Song of Solomon 6 - Isaiah 1
24, Saturday: Isaiah 2-5
May God add His richest blessings to the reading, the hearing, the understanding and most importantly the living out of His holy word. Amen.