- Eccl. 1:1-11; 6:10-12; 3:18-22; 2:12-16; 9:1-12; 8:16-17
Today we begin looking at the book of Ecclesiastes, arranged topically. Ecclesiastes means “the Preacher” or “the Teacher,” and contains the words of Solomon, son of David. The words of this book are likely penned towards the end of Solomon’s life and express the results of a lifetime of pursuing various things in order to find meaning within life and true value. As such there is a somewhat depressing tone to the book because Solomon had turned away from GOD for idolatry and it almost seems remorseful as he shares what years of pursuing other things have brought about.
In today’s reading we consider Solomon’s search for meaning in life. He begins the book by sharing the conclusion of his lifetime of pursuits:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” 3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.
(Eccl. 1:2-11 NIV)
Solomon found that everything in life has a pattern—a cycle—and it repeats over and over. People are born, they grow up, get old and die. They are forgotten by the future generations upon the earth. Regardless of the type of life you live you will be forgotten within the span of a generation. Oh sure, there might be things about you that get remembered, but no one will know you like people do while you are living.
7 Go, eat your bread with joy, And drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works. 8 Let your garments always be white, And let your head lack no oil. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
(Eccl. 9:7-10 NKJV)
These are the thoughts of a sad person who wasted a lifetime pursuing things rather than GOD. True happiness—true life—is found only in the Life-Giver, who is GOD. If you want to pursue all kinds of things besides GOD then He will allow you to do that, but your life is so short upon the earth, and pursuing anything but GOD is vanity—meaningless. Don’t waste your life looking for happiness and fulfillment in earthly treasures. Instead, lay up your treasures in heaven where they’ll be preserved for you there. Eternity is a LOT longer than life on earth. Never forget that.