The old adage goes something like this: “Everything the Bible speaks about is true. And the Bible speaks about everything.” This is also true, especially concerning some of the timeless questions we ask ourselves, such as “What is the purpose of life?” or “How can my life have meaning?” Both questions, and many more just like them, are specifically addressed in the Scriptures, especially in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes is a timeless book written by Solomon, the wisest (at least at one time) and richest man who ever lived. And Solomon wrote it towards the end of his life when he should have known better than to make the profound mistakes he did (remember 700 wives and 300 concubines, just for starters). It seems as if the wisdom and fervency for the Lord Solomon had as a young man slowly dissipated as he got older, which unfortunately happens to many people, and Solomon failed to finish his life well. Actually, it is kind of depressing. But there is so much for us to learn from watching Solomon’s sad decline.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon used the word “vanity” thirty-eight times and wrote about life “under the sun,” which means life on earth. It seems that was all he was concerned about in his later life. The desire for money and pleasure dominates the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes. Yet life on earth, void of a deep relationship with God, is not a wonderful thing. It is filled with pain and suffering, disease and death, and can bring out the worst in people. In fact, a Jewish writer once described life on earth as “a blister on top of a tumor, and a boil on top of that.”
Yet Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). I think Solomon may have missed that message.
And the Faulty Conclusion of Solomon
So what was Solomon’s conclusion right out of the gate? It’s pretty depressing and self-centered.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher (Solomon); “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3).
Wow. Sounds like it’s all about Solomon and no one else. And selfishness always leads to unhappiness. But note what the Hebrew word translated “vanity” actually means: “emptiness, meaningless, pointless, in vain, breath because of its transitory, fleeting character, the quality of having no value or significance, the result of being futile, nothingness.” Solomon calls it “grasping for the wind.”
This is how Solomon was viewing his life as he moved closer to his day of final reckoning. Do you feel the same way?
G. Campbell Morgan puts Solomon’s life this way:
“This man (Solomon) had been living through all these experiences under the sun, concerned with nothing above the sun … until there came a moment in which he had seen the whole of life. And there was something over the sun. It is only as a man takes account of that which is over the sun as well as that which is under the sun that things under the sun are seen in their true light.”
Or, to put it another way, “Everything in life ‘under the sun,’ outside of Christ, means nothing. But what we do for Christ, ‘under the sun,’ means everything.” Keep listening to find out more.