The Crook in the Lot – Part II

The first part of The Crook in the Lot is Thomas Boston’s exposition of Ecclesiastes 7:13, “Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which He hath made crooked.”

Boston begins on the first couple pages as all good Puritan writers, with a review of the context of Ecclesiastes 7, and then quickly moves to his division of the text.

His first division we might call a general summary of the whole text.

GENERAL SUMMARY

  1. The remedy itself is a wise eyeing of the hand of God in all we find to bear hard upon us.” Boston is saying that to rightly manage our troubles, we must first recognize God’s hand in them. This may seem strange to some. Some people seem to want to excuse God from any involvement in the pains and sufferings of life. But this is no help. Rather, Boston says we must “Consider” (as the text says) that these are “the work of God.”
  2. This view of the crook in our lot is very suitable to still indecent risings of the heart and quiet us under it.” Boston says that it is when we see our problems in this light that we can begin to deal with them in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. If we feel these troubles are merely from man, or from our own doing, then we might very well ply ourselves to try and change it. But if we realize it is from the Lord, and that only He can change it, then we are able to rest under even those circumstances which he earlier called “dismal outward appearances (p. 1).”

Having given what I am calling a brief “General Summary” referred to above, he then provides us with his more specific division of the text itself. And it is this three-fold division (he calls them “propositions”) that the rest of this exposition will follow.

SPECIFIC DIVISION OF THE TEXT

  1. “Whatsoever crook there is in one’s lot, it is of God’s making” (p. 4-39)
  2. “What God sees meet to mar, no one shall be able to mend in his lot” (p. 40-56)
  3. “The considering of the crook in the lot as the work of God, or of His making, is a proper means to bring us to a Christian deportment under it.” (p . 57-64)

COMMENTS

Few things can be of more practical usefulness for Christians than learning how to understand and manage our troubles. We all have them. Don’t you? I do. As Job points out “Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards (Job 5:7).” Ask any person to list those things in our lives which are disagreeable, and few would have much difficulty quickly filling a page or more. But how to understand and manage our troubles is not so easy. In fact, few today, even within Christian circles, seem to rise to a thoroughly Biblical view of our trials. We repeat the same platitudes as the unbelieving world and say things like “Well, that’s just life” or “This too shall pass” or “Life is hard” or many other similar expressions. Some of these are not entirely wrong, but sadly fall far below a Biblical and Christian understanding of troubles.

Thomas Boston is going to employ this text from Ecclesiastes to impress upon us a more thoroughly God-honoring and helpful way to view what he calls “afflicting incidents” or to use the language of the text, what “He [God] has made crooked.” This he will do by the 3 propositions stated above. I will attempt to put them in my own words:

  1. God Himself put that trouble in your life
  2. This trouble cannot be mended until God Himself is pleased to remove it
  3. Only by acknowledging this can we rightly respond to our troubles in this life

APPLICATION

Think about the one thing you wish you could change about your life. The one thing that makes your life the very hardest. Maybe it is a financial issue, a relationship issue, a health issue, a job issue, an incident in your past. Whatever this thing is – have you appreciated that the Lord ordained this? He put it there. If not Him, then who? Surely if He didn’t want it there, it would be gone, otherwise God is not God at all. So it is His doing ultimately.

Our natural tendency is only to see the human cause of our trouble. A bad choice. An evil person. Someone’s incompetence or carelessness. A foolish decision. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rarely do we look beyond the human or natural cause to the Divine cause. Since this is the first branch that Boston is going to explore with us, maybe it would be good to pray and ask God for His help with this.

PRAYER

Lord, show my Your hand in my trouble. The waves of the sea are crashing on my ship, but You are the Master of the waves and Captain of the ocean. The winds obey Your voice. Teach me to see Your hand where today I only see my own or the hand of others. Lord, if I don’t see You in my problems, then I am missing out on much of Your work in my life. Open my eyes to Your ways. Enable me to see, as Job declared, “that the hand of the Lord has done this (Job 12:9).”

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