Ecclesiastes 1-4, Psalm 8
Though blessed with amazing wisdom as seen in his many Proverbs, we come to a different book, also written by Solomon, which represent the words of one who has backslidden. These words are full of cynicism. How did this great man of wisdom fall so mightily? He chose to disregard the Word of God. In Deuteronomy 17:16-17, God states not to multiply wives, riches, or horses. Not only was he not to multiply wives but in Deuteronomy 17:3-4, the Israelites were instructed not to marry foreign wives. But, by the end of his life he had 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of whom were foreign, who turned his heart from worshiping the One True God, and instead he turned to other gods (1 Kings 11:1-4). We read something about his wealth in 1 Kings 10, with an annual income of over 2 billion dollars a year. There are 2 major ways for all of us to learn; through the wise counsel of others along with witnessing the mistakes of others, or making the mistakes yourself and learning from your own misery. Though Solomon started the former way, he is now looking back at a life which seemed meaningless.
Two phrases used continually throughout the book are vanity, which means emptiness, and “under the sun” which refers to life on earth (not eternity). People use so many phrases to state what would make them happy. Some say, “You are only as happy as your least happy kid”. Others say, “If you have your health, you have everything.” How many believe if they only had the right spouse, more obedient children, a better job, a better house, a little more money, more vacation time, etc. then they would be happy. We are reading the words in this book of a man who truly had it all from an earthly perspective. In fact, from an earthly perspective there was really nothing further for him to attain or look forward to. His conclusion was if you think that this will make you happy, you’re wrong. The conclusion of every earthly pursuit is emptiness.
As this book continues to weave through you will see it eventually get the focus back onto God. We know that our hope is not on the here and now, but we read in Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” With his focus on eternity, Paul writes, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19). With this mindset, Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-12 (NIV), that his joy was not wrapped up in the things of this world, “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” So, since we are citizens of heaven and God’s ambassadors on earth, Jesus instructs us to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16). The things of this earth will never satisfy, but our life in Jesus will provide us with more than we could ever need or want.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: