Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Living on the Ragged Edge

One of my favorite expository teachers of the Bible is Charles Swindoll. I have read dozens and dozens of his books and I have found them to be both clear and an accurate reflection of the Bible. Very rarely have I found myself at odds with something that he has written. His writing style is quite timeless as his approach is not to try to be hip or trendy. He does not fill his books with allusions that go out of date after a few years.

My most recent read from Swindoll was entitled Living on the Ragged Edge and was first published back in 1985. This book was focused on the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon. Solomon was the tenth son of King David, and the fourth son of the marriage union of King David with Bathsheba. Solomon was the third king of the united kingdom of Israel, following Saul and his father David. Solomon is recorded in history not only as a king, but as a major prophet of Christianity, of Judaism, and of the Muslim religion. In his younger days he was an ardent believer and had a close relationship with God. He is responsible for construction of the temple in Jerusalem in which God's presence dwelt among the Jews. God granted him wisdom and wealth, the likes have never been seen since. His period of rule is generally believed to be from 970 to 931 BC. In his later years, he drifted and became disillusioned and his faith was drowned out and perverted by idol worship and adopting the traditions of the pagans who interlaced his life.

Ecclesiastes represents a journal of sorts chronicling Solomon's disillusion of living a life without purpose, or at least without a purpose that led to contentment. A life of sexual gratification, a life of immense wealth, a life of human relationships, a life of gluttony with food and drink ... none of these without a relationship with God, Solomon concludes, will ever lead to fulfillment, contentment, and satisfaction. There are parts of Ecclesiastes that some in the church view as sacriligeous. Swindoll's approach is to work his way through the journal, providing both interpretation and application to our lives.

The first paragraph of today's blog was written with a "but" lingering. Very rarely have I found myself at odds with something that he has written, but in several sections of this book I found myself fully at odds with Swindoll. Some of his interpretations of the text I fully disagreed with and some of his analysis came across as more than a bit naive and ill-considered. I found myself growing frustrated with him. On top of this, this book was poorly edited. Dozens and dozens of spelling, grammar, and syntax errors, along with far too much repetition and aimless discussion. I would therefore not put this book at the top of my list of Swindoll efforts.