JESUS CHRIST I AM THAT I AM ECCLESIASTE S Let us study about life….
TITLE The title Ecclesiastes means ―the preacher‖• In the Hebrew bible, this book is called ―Qoheleth,‖ which is most commonly translated: • ―preacher,‖ ―teacher,‖ • one who collects an assembly into a meeting in order to teach them.• This appears to be the title of the author of this book, appearing 7 times (1:1, 2, 12, 7:27, 12:8, 9, 10).• The book states that the author of this book is ―the son of David, king in Jerusalem,‖ (1:1) and is thus traditionally attributed to Solomon.
THEME After his departure from God (I Kings 11:1-8), Solomon still retained riches and wisdom. Possessed of these, he began his quest for truth and happiness apart from God. The result of this quest is expressed in the ever- recurring phrase ―all is vanity.. (Vanity here means ―emptiness, worthlessness.‖) Solomon learned the following truth which sums up the theme of the book: Without God’s blessing, wisdom, position and riches do not satisfy, but rather bring weariness and disappointment. This fact shows the value of Ecclesiastes, a book whose general tone is pessimistic.
CONTENTS Solomon began his book with a discussion of the vanity of human pleasure and wisdom (chapters 1 and 2). He then proceeded to the hindrances and means of advancing earthly happiness (chapters 3-5). In 6:1-8:15 the foolish wise king reflected on true practical wisdom. True wisdom does not consist in striving after earthly sources of happiness (6:1-12), for even those who possess wealth do not attain to a true lasting enjoyment of them. True wisdom consists in a contempt of the world and foolish lusts (7:1-7), in a patient, calm, and resigned spirit (7:8-14), and in an earnest fear of God and a sincere acknowledgement of sin (7:15-22).
Next, Solomon considered the relation of true wisdom to the life of man (8:16- 20:20). God‘s dealings with man are sometimes mysterious (8:16-9:6), but that should not discourage the wise man from taking an active part in life. Though the result of human labor is sometimes uncertain, man should not be discouraged in his search for wisdom (9:11- 16).
After his reasonings, some true and some false, Solomon came to his conclusions.These represent the very best that the natural man can do, apart from revelation, toattain to happiness and favor with God. His conclusions include: * FaithfuIness in benevolence and in one‘s calling (11:1-6). * A calm and contented enjoyment of this life (11:7-10). * The fear of God for the young and old in view of a coming judgment (12:1-7). * The fear of God and the keeping of His commandments (12:13, 14).
Ecclesiastes reflects the utter vanity “emptiness and worthlessness” of life without God. No matter what Solomon tried and experienced, nothing replaced the love and blessings he had known in serving God. How sad the soul is who departs from the paths of God.
The Core of Ecclesiastes Solomon was given the gift of wisdom by God (1 Kings 3:11-12) However, he began to worship the gift instead of the giver of the gift and found himself spiritually disconnected from God. So, Solomon spends many years trying to find other ways to have meaning and purpose in this life apart from God. Thus, Ecclesiastes is an autobiographical journal of Solomon‘s experiences and reflections while he was out of fellowship with God
Christ as seen in Ecclesiastes: Since Christ alone is man‘s means to God where man finds wholeness and satisfaction, or life and life more abundantly (John 10:10; 7:37-38), the futility and perplexity experienced in life can only be removed through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Man‘s aspiration for significance and satisfaction are found only in the Savior.
Purpose: The basic theme is the futility of life apart from God. Thus, it relates what constitutes purposeful existence and how we can find it In a very real sense, this book is a scientific lab journal. Solomon records all the experimental steps and conclusions as he explored all aspects of life in his attempt to discover meaning. Each section of the book explores a different avenue by which humanity has sought out purpose to life. Therefore, the book of Ecclesiastes is a discourse that logically proves that belief in God is the way to meaning and purpose in life. However, the way in which this is done is through the process of elimination.
In seeking to demonstrate that life without God has no meaning, Solomon reveals two key points: 1) Solomon showed that man, left to his own strategies (―way that seems right to man‖) will always find life empty and frustrating. 2) Solomon affirms the fact that much in life cannot be fully understood, which means we must live by faith, not by sight. “Life is full of unexplained enigmas, unresolved anomalies, and uncorrected injustices. There is much in life that man cannot comprehend nor control, but by faith, we can rest in the sovereign wisdom and work of God.” Barnes
Outline I. The basic thesis: "All is Vanity" 1:1-11 II. The Proof that "All is Vanity." 1:12—6:9 Consists of eight sections (1:12-14; 1:15-17; 1:18 – 2:11; 2:12-17; 2:18-26; 3:1 – 4:6; 4:7-16; 5:1 – 6:9), each ending with a phrase such as "meaningless, a chasing after the wind." III. Counsel for Living with Vanity 6:10—11:6 Divided into two sections. The first section (6:10 – 8:17) is further divided into four subsections (6:10 – 7:14; 7:15- 24; 7:25-29; 8:1-17), each ending with a phrase such as "man cannot discover anything" or "this only have I found" [Hebrew: matsa’, translated "discover" elsewhere]. The second section is also divided into four subsections (9:1-12; 9:13 – 10:15; 10:16 – 11:2; 11:3-6), each ending with "no man knows" or a similar phrase. IV. The way of wisdom 11:7—12:8 V. Epilogue 12:9-14
Dissection of the Book ―The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” (1:1) Solomon had a very full life. He built the great temple in Jerusalem and numerous other projects. He became the wisest and richest man of his day. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He wrote songs and spoke proverbs, many of which are preserved in the book of Proverbs. We might expect Solomon to have been satisfied and grateful as he reflected on a life of achievement. Rather, he was frustrated and bitter.
“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” (1:2) In Hebrew, the word translated vanity is used of things which soon vanish away, like a vapor, a breath, or a bubble. Thus, more than the sense of ―meaningless,‖ vanity conveys the idea of that which is transitory, and that which is futile. It emphasizes how swiftly earthly things pass away, and how little they offer while one has them This view is also echoed in the NT, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)
Therefore, when Solomon used this word in Ecclesiastes, he meant lacking real substance, value, permanence, or significance. Life‘s every activity, even though pleasant for the moment, becomes purposeless and futile when viewed as an end in itself. Vanity “stands more for human inability to grasp the meaning of Gods way than for an ultimate emptiness in life. It speaks of human limitation and frustration caused by the vast gap between Gods knowledge and power and our relative ignorance and impotence.” Hubbard The phrase "is vanity" is reiterated 37 times to
Solomon begins by posing a rhetorical question, “What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? ” (1:3) The phrase under the sun, used 29 times in Ecclesiastes and nowhere else in the Old Testament, describes life and reality as perceived by mere human temporal observation. The man "under the sun" in Ecclesiastes is one unaided by a personal relationship with God. Solomon is further claiming that all of mankind‘s self-edifying toils produce nothing ultimate or truly satisfying. Our work is never complete in the sense that we never finally arrive at a condition in which no more work is necessary.
“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” (1:4-5) One of the first things Solomon notes is that, in essence, all things are as they always have been. From the perspective of living under the sun, even history and time seems meaningless. Superficial things about the world may change, but it still remains basically the same. For all mankinds great accomplishments and failures, the world continues on. We are born, we live, and we
Solomon uses the cycles of nature as a descriptive analogy of life itself as all things seem to just repeat and recur no matter what a particular generation accomplishes. Nothing seems to come to any point of conclusion. The sun and the wind are in constant motion but never arrive at any fixed goal or lasting rest.. The universe continues about its natural flow, oblivious and indifferent to man.
Interestingly, his dad (King David) observed the same cycles of nature with wonder and joy: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalm 19:1-6)
However, Solomon observes the same phenomena, but his observations were not as positive: “All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” (1:8) Essentially, Solomon is noting from a purely scientific perspective (naturalism worldview), nature cycles are basically boring monotonous patterns; just like life itself. Thus, like the ocean, our senses are fed and fed, but never filled; and like the wind, the mind is also constantly in motion (such as its search for
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.” (1:9-10) By saying, "there is nothing new under the sun," Solomon was not overlooking inventions and technological advances that have resulted in civilizations advancement through the centuries. Nevertheless these have been only innovations, not basic changes. Man still struggles with the same essential questions, problems, and needs he has always had.
Perhaps saddest of all for life ―under the sun‖ is no matter what someone does in his life, it will be fleeting and forgotten in time, “There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.” (1:11)
Solomon engages in a multiple quest for meaning and satisfaction, using his own resources to explore various avenues of life.: “And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.” (1:13) The term ‗Heart points to the combined use of mind and will in the quest for knowledge. Wisdom in the sense Solomon is using it does not refer to living a life pleasing to God. It means using human intelligence as an instrument to seek out truth and significance. Solomon isn‘t naïve or stupid. He is shrewd and clever; he is attempting to find the ideal balance between such things as pleasure and self-control.
“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” (1:14) Solomon doesn‘t merely make the claim---he provides the proof. This is the autobiographical story of a real life experience, a man who had unprecedented earthly resources, and attempted to find meaning in this physical life, and came back empty- handed!
“And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow” (1:17-18) Solomon first tried to find meaning in intellectual pursuits as well as the world of the irrational. The more Solomon learned about the world, the more injustices he found he couldn‘t fix. Thus, even though he is a wise man, Solomon still stands completely helpless to solve many of the problems among his own people.
Having failed to find fulfillment through wisdom, Solomon next turns to physical pleasure, “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure” (2:1) This is known as the human philosophy of hedonism, which is a devotion to pleasure (especially to the pleasures of the senses) as a way of life. It is a very old philosophy that has masqueraded under many different names and is alive and well today Some of the modern maxims of hedonism are: A) Live life to the fullest. B) The one who dies with the most toys wins C) Sex, drugs, and rocknroll D) You only go around once, live it up, don‘t worry, be happy‖.
Besides the humor he pursued in the first verse, Solomon experimented with a variety of other pleasures: 1) Wine (2:3) “I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine” 2) Creativity (2:4-6) “I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards” Remember.. His own house was larger and took longer to build than the temple. 1 Kings 6:38; 7:1 3) Treasure (2:8) “I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces” Notice "I made," "for myself" - is used 8 times in
In fact, Solomon‘s self-indulgence was so thorough in his experiment with hedonism that, “whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy” (2:10) However, while the pleasures might have brought some temporary happiness or thrill, Solomon final conclusion about hedonism having any eternal value was, “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” (2:11)
“Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.” (2:18-19) Solomon realizes that a man may spend his entire life accumulating earthly goods, only to be unable to take it with him or control its destiny when he dies. Many successors squander inherited wealth because people do not generally appreciate that which they do not earn themselves. The irony is that Solomon‘s son, Rehoboam, proved to be a fool despite his wise daddy. In fact, according to 1 Kings chapter 12, Rehoboams folly caused the majority of the kingdom to turn their backs on him and establish a new kingdom, causing the Promise Land to be divided into two competing nations.
“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” (2:24) Solomon recognizes that life is not a ―rat race‖ but rather a gift from God. Man is to take his life day by day from the hand of God (ref. Matt 6:25-34). Thus the emphasis is on the journey more than the destination. We can‘t truly enjoy the things ―under the sun‖ until our minds are set on things above the sun (Matthew 6:19-21, 33; Colossians 3:1-2; Philippians 4:11). God has enabled us to be freed from our demand that physical things make us happy. Thus, this life is only meaningful if God exists.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” (3:1-2) Solomon next shows seven common pairs of examples from everyday life of how life is constantly changing, constantly going through cycles. What is his point? “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:.” (3:11a) We may think that we have control over our lives and what we will do each day, but a realistic observation makes us realize that many unexpected things will happen in life, and that life isn‘t going to always follow our game plan. In fact man is subject to many circumstances which can completely erase a whole life‘s work (such as war and death); thus man‘s only security is in the faith and hope that God is who He claims to be.
“also he hath set the world [eternity] in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (3:11b) Part of the image of God in which every person is created involves our sense of the infinite and eternity. Built into each one of us is the ability to look back into the past and forward into the future and a desire to know the eternal significance of what we do. Additionally, mans needs are not purely physical and thus cannot be satisfied by purely physical things. Yet, while we can vaguely grasp the concept of how the infinite interacts with the temporal(ref. 1 Cor 13:12), we know just enough to make us realize the vast amount that we don‘t know. Thus, most of the details of God‘s redemptive plan are unfathomable to us, and apart from Divine revelation, we are completely blind concerning what God will do in the future (Deut. 29:29; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.” (3:13) There is a big difference between selfishly trying to squeeze all the fun out of each moment in life----and appreciating each moment in life. Only the believer can really see that there was ‗good‘ (true and lasting) in what he accomplished (Eph. 2:10; Revelation 14:13; Matthew 6:19-20) through the faithfulness, dependability, and power of God. James 1:17 echoes Solomon‘s insights, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
“And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (3:16-17) Solomon wrestled with perhaps the most difficult obstacle for the understanding of Gods ways: the problem of injustice in this life.
“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.” (4:1) Solomon realized that from a purely naturalistic ―under the sun‖ viewpoint—if there is no life beyond this life— then the living have only the prospect of looking forward to seeing and experiencing suffering. In fact, if this world was all there was, Solomon says it would be better not to be born at all than to experience the pain and suffering that this life has to offer. (4:3)
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.” (4:9) It is better to share our life with another person rather than "go it alone‖ because we really cannot enjoy life to its fullest as loners. People were created to need and share with other people; we cannot fill that need from within ourselves.
“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.” (5:1; Ref. Prov. 15:8; 21:3; 1 Sam. 15:22; Psalm 51:16-17. ) Why do our lives appear to be vanity and futile? Solomon implies that our spiritual lives are a series of empty promises and lifeless rededications. Man should approach God with care and reverence; not mindless ritual. Worship tends to become corrupted when men forget that they are the worshippers and not the object of worship
“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” (5:2,4-5) We live in a society in which talk is cheap. Often, when facing a crisis, we promise all sorts of things to God if only He will see us through this trial in our lives. But once the trial is over, we often forget such fervent promises. Good intentions, pious words and sincere prayers don‘t make up for a failure to keep what we have pledged.
“He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?” (5:10-11) Greed and materialism have no satisfying limits. "The more they get; the more they want." 1 Tim. 6:9-10 warns us of the many evils associated with love of money and/or what money can buy Unfortunately, even though Jesus plainly said that no man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24), many Christians seem bent on trying to prove Him
“There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt. As he came forth of his mothers womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand.” (5:13, 15) Solomon sums up the vanity of the greedy man‘s life-- all that hard work, all those sleepless nights, and all that worrying—in the end for nothing! We go out as naked as we arrived. The only thing we will take with us is our heavenly treasures (ref. Matt. 6:19-20; Luke 12:33; 1 Tim. 6:17-19; 2 Tim. 1:12). Many allow their riches to destroy their souls, such as the rich young ruler, who allowed wealth to hinder him from following the Lord. (Mark 10:17-31)
“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” (5:18-19) After considering the vanity of hoarding wealth, Solomon concludes that many miss—through covetousness and greed—the joy God intended for man.
Only the man or woman who has God as the center of their life is able to enjoy the nice things this life has to offer. Outside of Christ, possessions and wealth will naturally cause you to worry, fret, envy, and so on. Wealth isn‘t bad or good, riches are not evil in and of themselves. When they are looked upon with a proper attitude and used in harmony with God‘s ordained will, they bring joy. However, abundance is useless without the ability to enjoy it.
“All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.” (6:7) Solomon warns that there is always the danger that our desires will outstrip our acquisitions. Constantly longing for more is futile. This is autobiographical for Solomon: God gave Solomon riches, wealth and honor, but Solomon was still frustrated. He continued to crave things he didn‘t (or couldn‘t) have.
“Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire:” (6:9a) Too many of us spend too much time daydreaming for what we consider to be the ideal_________, instead of realizing the true wealth and enjoyment which is right before our eyes. Too many of us are living in the earthly future, rather than the present. We think that something in the earthly future (marriage, children, career, home, vacation home, new car, retirement, vacation, etc…) will bring the happiness that we are so desperately trying to find…. Solomon, through his own experience, provides the truth of the matter, “this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.” (6:9b)
“That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he. Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?” (6:10-12) The nature of man does not change, no matter how much man may protest. As previous verses mentioned, he will still be a slave to his hunger. He will still die. He will still find no solace in wealth. No amount of complaining will change the natural order of things. Human beings do not have the answer as to what is best for man in life. They only think they do. Thus, from their humanistic worldviews, man continues asking the same questions as their predecessors: ‗who knows what is good for man?‘ ‗Who can tell man what will happen after his death?‘ However, they refuse to accept the truth that only God has these answers.
Solomon begins to apply the observations of the previous chapters in the form of contrastive couplet proverbs giving counsel for living with vanity 7:1—A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of ones birth. 7:2—It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. 7:3—Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. He advocates that sorrow is superior to joy, as one learns more from the trials of life than from celebration. Sorrows sober us and cause us to reflect.
7:10—”Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.” Man tends to forget the bad and remember the good. Thus, when he looks back on the past, it always seems that it was better than things are now. In many ways "the good old days" were not all that good. The man who idealizes the past runs the risk of forgetting the present and bringing ruin to his future. Yet, Solomon is even more direct…Living in the past or wishing for some golden era in the past is also living like a fool. We must make the best of our situation as it is now.
“Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.” (7:13-14) Mans tendency is to question God, just as Job did. However, instead of being tempted to find fault with God‘s management of this world, we must learn from the hardship (Psalm 119:71). Thus, the truly wise man will submit to and accept how God governs this universe.
“Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?” (7:16) Solomon isn‘t advocating a half-hearted devotion to God. Rather, he is warning against being overly righteous, or self-righteous—such as the Pharisees (ref. Matt 23:5-7). Pride accompanies this type of "righteousness" and causes the ruin of the those who practice it (ref. I Cor 10:12). Conversely, Solomon is not suggesting a life of ―sin-management‖ but also warns against the other extreme of behavior known as ―antinomianism,‖ (without law): “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest
“All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?” (7:23-24) The book repeatedly notes that Solomon had attempted to use his immense wisdom to find an explanation for the troubling questions to life. (1:13,17; 2:3,9,12). However, he concedes that many of the answers have eluded him. Apart from divine revelation, Solomon found that human wisdom fails to find the ultimate answers Further, there are many things that God alone knows and that He has not chosen to reveal to man. Even the wisest man to walk the earth could
“And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity” (8:10) At times history has mistakenly labeled the wicked as righteous and visa versa. In our own culture we have idolized a good number of people who were very sinful. How many corrupt politicians, ruthless tycoons, and immoral Hollywood actors or actresses are buried with full honors? Solomon also notes that there are times when the wicked receive good things, while the righteous at times receive bad things: “here is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I
“For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” (9:4-5) The word hope here infers an afterlife that is determined by the type of life that one lives in this life (2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecc. 12:14). As long as there is life, man can change his eternal destiny, but once death happens his or her fate is fixed forever (Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:28). For those ‗living under the sun‘ and believe there is no God, there is no hope at all. Knowing death is inevitable, why isn‘t everyone seeking God? Solomon explains, “the heart of the sons of men is full of
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” (9:11) Solomon notes the uncertainty and brevity of life. The idea is that man can‘t prepare for everything. Many of the ―best‖ teams have lost the championship. The ―strongest‖ armies in history sometimes did not win the war. The fastest runner pulled a hamstring, etc, etc.
“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.” (10:1) A little fault or a little sin/foolishness can mar a reputation which was only acquired with tremendous effort and half a lifetime. Further, ―sin in the camp‖ can do a great deal of unrepairable damage, ―Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.” (9:18)
“He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” (11:4) The unpredictable future can paralyze some people into inaction. Conversely, if we are waiting for a perfect situation before we begin, we will never do anything.
“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” (11:5-6) There are many things in this life that we do not understand fully, or cannot even control, but this should not keep us from working. Solomon gave the example of the baby in the womb. Even though we do not completely understand everything about the development of the unborn child, this doesn‘t keep us from having children.
Solomon next gives a short exhortation to the youth to establish the proper order in their lives when they are young and in the prime of life: 11:9-- Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” 11:10a-- remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: Solomon also reminds them that what seems so important when they are young is usually meaningless when viewed from later in life, “for childhood and youth are vanity.” (11:10b)
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (12:1) Perhaps most important of all, Solomon encourages the youth to establish the proper relationship with God at an early age. Solomon then gives a series of metaphors that provide a composite description of the deterioration of the body as old age comes on to emphasize our common journey of maturity, which ends for everyone in death: 12:7– “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
“Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.” (12:8) Solomon has come full circle. Nothing in his search ‗under the sun‘ provided any lasting significance or gave any true meaning to our existence. Just like our own culture today, Solomon discovered that most people in his generation lived in a superficial world of unreality.
However, Solomon resolves the book‘s extensive inquiry into the meaning of life with the single conclusion, “Fear God and Keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13). We are free to choose (choose this day…) but Solomon also warns us, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (12:14)
Just so we don‘t miss the mainpoint… Ecclesiastes affirms that meaning for life is not in life, but in the One who gives life Nothing can fill the void that is left in one‘s heart from pursuing worldly endeavors such as power, popularity, prestige, and pleasure. Only God can give us what we really need. Further, far from being a bleak and miserable existence, the life of the believer is to be optimistic and cheerful. Once we see things from the heavenly view, we can begin to enjoy life as it was meant to be. With God in our lives, there is no more despair and emptiness. Ecclesiastes highlights the need we all have for something beyond anything this physical life can offer — to that which is made possible only by Jesus Christ (John 4:7-14).