In light of what God has revealed to us in the 3rd Commandment we are to be sure to rest and trust in the beauty of His ways, for what one of us wants to end life broken, defeated, and under the weight of their transgressions like Solomon? Finishing well means obeying this portion of God’s law, with joy, thanksgiving, and humility.
Vanity is a word that we usually associate with King Solomon and his book called Ecclesiastes. The opening verse of that portion of Holy Scripture says, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ What he means by that is his going after the sensual things, heeding the counsel of his pagan wives (Neh.8:26), all had brought him to the point that he realizing how much of the blessing of God he had wasted in this present evil world. What had been the point of all that frivolity but to bring the very son of David to his knees in a quiet and fleeting desperation? If you go on and read the rest of Solomon’s testimony to how he had spent his life he ends with a pretty straightforward word of confession:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” — (Eccl. 12:13-14)
There we see in stark detail that every man and woman in their day has a simple choice to make: will we heed the words of a godly father to his son as we read in Proverbs or will they go after the vanity, the worthless idols which cannot do what they promise? In some ways the parable of the prodigal son is a condensing of the life of Solomon. He went from the highs of praising the name of God as the source of all truth and wisdom to the broken man who gave the lamentation of Ecclesiastes to posterity.
In today’s catechism lesson we are going to look at the 3rd Commandment which, as we will see, has a lot more to tell us than just what words we are allowed to say.
Let’s get to this week’s questions:
Q. 53. Which is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Q. 54. What is required in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works.
Having heard statutes against having any other gods before the one true and living god and an admonition against forming any image of God, either in the mind or in physical form, we come now to a warning to all men to consider what the very name of Jehovah means.