Today is Day 50 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
Only 40 days left, can you believe it?!
Ecclesiastes is 1 of 3 books ascribed to the pen of King Solomon (the other 2 are Proverbs and Song of Solomon). This trifecta of Bible books summarizes Solomon’s life well…
Proverbs is full of wisdom and was compiled throughout his life.
Song of Solomon was probably written when he was young and in love.
Ecclesiastes was written toward the end of his life, when he had experienced it all.
2 words or phrases you read throughout Ecclesiastes are “vanity” and “under the sun.” “Vanity” is used 36 times in just 29 verses and “under the sun” is found 29 times in 27 verses.
“Vanity” describes something that is useless (like “grasping for the wind” – Ecc. 2:11) and “under the sun” describes the earthly (non-eternal) way of living. Chapter 2 gives a good summary of the book and Solomon’s experiences, as he lists things he tried to find fulfillment in: buildings, gold, silver, women, drinking, and more. What was his conclusion?
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 2:11
At times, Solomon seems to go on rants about how useless life is and how meaningless his existence has been. It’s the sad state of someone who has turned to the world for satisfaction and found out that the world had nothing to offer.
His rants of vanity and uselessness are punctuated by deep recollections on the eternal God…
I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him. – Ecclesiastes 3:14
God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few. – Ecclesiastes 5:2
If anyone had the right to write about the experiences of the senses and their inability to satisfy, it was Solomon. 1 Kings 3:13 says that since Solomon requested wisdom instead of riches, God gave him wisdom as well as riches – more than anyone who ever lived or ever would live!
1 Kings 10:14 says that his annual income was 666 talents of gold. According to the current price of gold per ounce, 666 talents of gold in our day would be $1,102,948,747.20! The guy was raking in $1.1 billion per year! And that wasn’t even all of it – the verse goes on to say that that doesn’t even include his income from merchants, traders, kings, and governors!
A few more things that King Solomon had…
– 40,000 stalls of horses (1 Kings 4:26)
– a staff of 183,300 workers building the Temple, carrying & mining rocks and minerals, etc. (1 Kings 5:13-15)
– a fleet of ships that he built for the purpose of going to get more gold (420 talents, to be exact – the modern equivalent of $695,553,264)
– 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines at his beck and call (1 Kings 11:3)
…and that’s just the beginning.
In other words, he experienced it ALL. If he wanted it, he got it. But where did it leave him? The same place it will leave anyone who tries to find satisfaction apart from God…
He closes the book with some very important words. Take these words to heart, coming from a man who experienced it all…
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.
– Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
ALL of Scripture is relevant, but in a culture obsessed with getting, having, experiencing, and feeling, Ecclesiastes hits the nail on the head.
When Galileo & Newton wrote their findings on gravity, you didn’t go out and test them yourself – you took them at their word. After all, they’re the pros – they know what they’re talking ahout.
Solomon is a pro. He knows what he’s talking about. Take him at his word – the world is empty. Find satisfaction in Christ alone.