“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
The first time I actually put much time into Ecclesiastes was a couple of years ago. One of my boys youth pastors came up to me and said this verse and asked if I knew where it was in the bible. I did not and so we launched into an hour-long discussion on this wonderful book of the bible. I know that many of you may not make it to far into Ecclesiastes. I can fully understand. A lot of the time we turn to our scriptures to be uplifted and encouraged. I have to say at first pass this may not appear to meet the bill. Many choose to believe that this is a book of skepticism. However, there is so much more to this book.
It was written by King Solomon towards the latter part of his life. It was most like written as a way to answer some of the lifes most challenging questions. We see detailed out in it the painful journey of his life. For all of Solomons wisdom we see him squander God’s blessing on the pursuit of personal pleasure and not on God’s glory. This book is his attempt to warn later generations not to make the same mistakes that even in his wisdom he made.
Throughtout this book we see the earthly pleasures detailed out in his attempt to find this personal fulfilment. On his life’s journey we can see some of the same things that we wrongly seek in our lives. The things that we try to use to replace the one true God. The reality is that we are part of the future generation that he so sought to warn in his wisdom.
Solomon was known for his great wisdom. To the point that the kings of the earth were drawn to his courts to share and learn from him. As he reflected back he summed up his lifelong pursuit of wisdom.
I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this , too, is chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1: 16-17)
He came to understand that even all of his great wisdom was in the end – pointless. Something that had not true heavenly value. Do we at times behave in the same way? Do we put the pursuit of knowledge and education of worldly things above those of the kingdom? Do we value our degrees more than the study of God’s word? Do we know the date of our graduation from college but struggle with the date of our acceptance of Christ?
Solomon was also known for the pleasures of his palace and his incredible riches. There are few that would not be able to describe the incredible wealth that he was said to have accumulated in his life. The pleasures that he was able to obtain are detailed out within this book as well. Once again at the end he reflected back on all of these things.
Yet I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I have toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5: 10)
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. (Ecclesiastes 5:15)
Do we find ourselves chasing the riches of this world. Do we focus our lives on the acquisition of things and power and position? How tempting is it to put our hearts on impressing those around us and not on serving our Father. To toil and build the treasures of the earth that are so fleeting in the measure of eternity.
I reflect back on what Solomon wanted to impart in his writings. A warning to future generations not to make the same mistakes that he made. To not go down the same road that he did. We spend a lot of time reading and applying his wisdom in Proverbs. Why not spend a little time in this other book of wisdom. In the last chapter Solomon sums it all up.
Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. the teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails – given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. for God will bring judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12: 9-14)
I encourage you to spend a little time in this book. To read and heed the words of Solomon and see if they ring true in your life. If you hear the ring of truth then heed the warning of Solomon. Take the time to assess where your priorities lie. Are you chasing after the wind or are you chasing after God! We can heed the warning of Solomon and not find ourselves at the end of our lives wondering why we put the efforts of our lives into things that are “Meaningless! Meaningless!, Utterly meaningless!”