Robert wrote:haithabu wrote:In terms of the Parable of the Talents, Solomon is the man who buried his talent and at the end hastily dug it up and put it in the bank - just in time! While Job is the man who invested his talent and earned ten-fold - certainly materially as the epilogue makes clear but more importantly his gain was spiritual.
I loved the contrast in your post. I did struggle at the end with the comparison. I get concerned that it is easy for us to compare people when situations are really different. I don't really disagree with the contrast but comparing how different people go though life may not really be a good way to evaluate things. We are all individuals and each has to find their own way. Job's way would not have worked for Solomon, or versa visa.
Solomon was talking about God in Ecclesiastes. It was not a dialogue between him and God. It was his personal reflection. He points out that the 10 fold Job got, indirectly, really is meaningless too. Relationships, Solomon points towards God, are what really has value. We often look to Job's 10 fold reward and think of that as prosperity. Solomon is saying something different. He is saying the relationship, like Job had, is key.
I don't want to lean on Job's material gain too hard in terms of promoting prosperity gospel implications. However it is clear to me that in this context it is intended as a tangible sign of God's approval. An earthly counterpart to Jesus' promise that the faithful servant would be set over ten cities. Which is somewhat materialistic also if you think about it.
I find it impossible to separate Solomon's words from what we know about him as a person, and in that light I look at his message of futility as part of the cautionary example which is his life.
Job's way would not have worked for Solomon, or versa visa
I'm not sure what you are trying to say here. Job was faithful to God both in prosperity and in hardship. What's not to like about his way? Solomon on the other hand married foreign wives and built shrines for their idols and as a result incurred God's judgment. Job's way would have worked for both Solomon and Israel very well because it would have saved him from spiritual emptiness and it would have kept the kingdom whole for his heirs.
I see the central message of Job as relational in that he moves from a a quasi-contractual view of his standing with God to an appreciation for God as He is in Himself. Job 40 through 42:6 are the high point of the book. Job finds wholeness not in the resolution of his earthly problems but in seeing God. The restoration of his earthly fortunes is secondary.
In Ecclesiastes on the other hand, Solomon's "Remember your Creator" "Let your words be few" and "Fear God and keep His commandments" seem to point the reader towards compliance and reverence rather than relationship with God. This is almost the same advice he gives for dealing with a king.
About futility - Solomon's words and Job's complaints have a superficial similarity but the difference is that although Job can't make sense of things he never doubts that God is in control of what he is experiencing and in that sense it does have a meaning - though what, he can't make out. And of course in the frame of the narration we know that his sufferings do have a purpose.
On the other hand when Solomon speaks of futility he almost seems to be saying that everything is pretty much random.