“The sayings of the wise are like goads.
They are like nails firmly fixed.
These collected sayings were given
By one shepherd.
Beware of anything beyond these.
Many books have no end.
Much study is a weariness of the flesh.”
These wise sayings of Qoheleth were like goads that were sticks used to prod cattle and other animals to make them move. These goads were a stimulus to our mind. Thus we have the saying to goad them on. These collected sayings are like sharp nails. Here we have the allusion to the sayings of a shepherd, something that followers of Jesus will emphasis in the New Testament. Then this writer warns the readers about adding more proverbs. He warned that many books never have an end. He also remarked that a lot of study can make people weary. So watch out for too much time spent studying.
“He turns rivers into a desert.
He turns springs of water into thirsty ground.
He turns fruitful land into a salty waste.
He did this because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
He turns the desert into pools of water.
He turns parched land into springs of water.
There he lets the hungry live.
They establish a town to live in.
They sow fields.
They plant vineyards.
They get a fruitful yield.
By his blessing
They multiply greatly.
He does not let their cattle decrease.”
Yahweh could make rivers into deserts and dry up the land. In fact, he turned fruitful land into a salty waste because of the wickedness of its people. On the other hand, he could turn bad land into good land. He could turn a desert into water and parched land into springs of water. See how important water was. He could let the hungry live and establish their own towns. There they could sow fields and plant vineyards so that they would have a fruitful yield. When Yahweh blesses them they multiply greatly, even their cattle.
“You cause the grass to grow for the cattle.
You cause the plants for people to use.
Mortals may bring forth food from the earth.
They will make wine to gladden the human heart.
They will have oil to make the face shine.
They will make bread to strengthen the human heart.
The trees of Yahweh are watered abundantly.
He planted the cedars of Lebanon.”
Yahweh makes the grass to grow for cattle. He causes plants to grow for humans. Thus mortals can bring food from the earth to eat. They can also make wine to gladden their hearts. They can make oil to a shine on their faces. They also make bread to strengthen their hearts. Finally, the cedar trees of Lebanon were planted by Yahweh so that buildings could be made from their lumber.
O my people!
I will speak!
I will testify against you!
I am God!
I am your God!
Not for your sacrifices,
Do I rebuke you.
Your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house.
I will not accept goats from your folds.
Every wild animal of the forest is mine.
The cattle on a thousand hills are mine.
I know all the birds of the air.
I know that all that moves in the field is mine.”
This time the plea is for God asking the people of Israel to hear him, not the other way around. God was going to speak to Israel as he wanted to testify against them. He was rebuking them, but not for their sacrifices, which they had continually brought forth as burnt offerings. He was no longer going to accept bulls and goats as sacrifices. God claimed that all the wild animals were his anyhow. The cattle in the hills, the birds in the air, and all that moved in the fields belonged to God.
“Then Bildad the Shuhite answered.
‘How long will you hunt for words?
Then we shall speak.
Why are we counted as cattle?
Why are we stupid in your sight?
You who tear yourself in your anger,
Shall the earth be forsaken because of you?
Shall the rock be removed out of its place?’”
Bildad responded with his second speech that Job is acting like he was the center of the world. Why was Job trying to hunt for words? Bildad and his friends wanted to speak. Why were they called cattle or stupid? Job was angry at himself. Then he was mad at everyone else. He was making too much of himself. Was the world going to stop? Would rocks jump up to move on? No, Job was being too ego-centric.
“King Hezekiah had very great riches and honor. He made for himself treasuries for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields, and all kinds of costly objects. He built storehouses also for the yield of grain, wine, and oil. He had stalls for all kinds of cattle and sheepfolds. He likewise provided cities for himself. He had flocks and herds in abundance. God had given him very great possessions. This same King Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon. He directed them down to the west side of the city of David. King Hezekiah prospered in all his works. So also in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land. God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.”
King Hezekiah became very rich much like King Solomon. He had gold, silver, precious stones, spices, and expensive stuff. He also had huge storehouses for grain, wine, and oil, plus lots of livestock. He was a very rich guy. He diverted some water to the west side of Jerusalem with a pool and canal. King Hezekiah was very generous to the Babylonian envoys who wanted to make an alliance with the king of Judah. He showed them all the treasures of his realm, when they came to see him about his illness. This made the prophet Isaiah upset in 2 Kings, chapter 20. However, there is no mention of the Babylonian captivity here.