Wise words from the book of Proverbs
Ken Rudge, St. Austell, England
‘For him that is joined to all living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion’, Eccles. 9. 4.
To understand where Solomon is coming from in the Ecclesiastes is to realize that he is speaking only of those things that are,‘under the sun’. In other words God has allowed the wisest man that ever lived to record for us his wisest wisdom as that man and not as a divinely inspired individual. He is inspired of course but writes only as the wisest of men with men’s wisdom about the things he had come to see while living in this world. To grasp this will save you from a lot of the pitfalls this Old Testament book strews across your pathway and the confusions that can result.
Having said this we must account that God has a deep interest in what he thought and has provided it in scripture in order to provoke us to think about what the wisest man considered important and how he saw things.We would be foolish to ignore such a provision!
In these few verses, 4 to 7 of chapter 9, Solomon waxes wise regarding ‘being alive’ and ‘making that life count for something’ rather than ‘being dead’ and having therefore, ‘done with all the things of this life,’ see verse 5. To stress the point he leads us to consider the contrast between a living dog and a dead lion. For all that the lion possesses in reputation, fierceness, aggression and strength the very fact that he is a ‘dead’ lion immediately nullifies his assets! At least a living dog, although far inferior to the lion, can still bark, bite and harass an enemy or would-be thief.This is only because it possesses life - it is alive!
There are several things spiritually that we can learn from this simple but profound principle so ably illustrated by Solomon here. Firstly, as believers we can live in such a way that we are dead spiritually and as such our testimony is clearly wiped out.We will never be effective and fruitful Christians. What we need to be is ‘alive as believers’. No more pretending or minimal commitment.It is all or nothing as far as Christ is concerned and we need to grasp that! Secondly, the life you have as a believer needs to be your life not that which is conformity to what others seem to expect of you.Truly, as a believer you need to ‘get a life’ and that life needs to be what you have developed with the Lord as you have learnt it from Him.
So here’s to being a ‘living dog’ rather than a ‘dead lion’.We have a life that’s well worth living so let’s ‘live it to the full’