If we are not going to trust God, who should we trust? Who will we trust? This is not a new question. King Solomon dealt with it in the Book of Ecclesiastes 1 NASB – The Futility of All Endeavors – The – Bible Gateway long ago.
Instead of living his life under Heaven — trusting in God — Solomon tried to live his life under the sun. That is, Solomon tried various alternatives to God: sex, stuff, science, state, and/or self. The Book of Ecclesiastes 1 NASB – The Futility of All Endeavors – The – Bible Gateway records what Solomon learned, the futility of putting our trust in anything or anyone except God.
From the perspective of God, the idolization sex, stuff, science, state, and/or self is nothing new under the sun. Yet every generation of man must learn for itself the futility of putting age-old idols of sex, stuff, science, state, and/or self before our Creator.
What is “new” about the Book of Ecclesiastes 1 NASB – The Futility of All Endeavors – The – Bible Gateway? Solomon used his God-given wisdom to record what he learned from the perspective of God.
Solomon begins Ecclesiastes by explaining the meaning of futility. When we live life under the sun, without God, we end where we started. Without God, we cannot make any real progress.
Solomon turns next to the futility of wisdom, the “science” of his day, under the sun. What did wisdom under the sun gain Solomon?
Grief and pain!
When we look back on ancient times, many of us congratulate ourselves. We think we know so much more, but relative to what there is to be known, modern scientists know little more than did the educated people of Solomon’s time. The wise know better than to congratulate themselves for all the answers that they have. The wise realize how much more we need to learn. Yet when he set God aside, pursued wisdom without God, Solomon found the pursuit of wisdom pure frustration.
Sex And Stuff
Therefore, Solomon turned to the pursuit of pleasure and possessions, that is, sex and stuff. Imagine having a harem with hundreds of wives and concubines. Money to buy the best wines and live entertainment. Great! Right? But Solomon grew bored. What was the point? In fact, Solomon encountered worst problems than pure boredom. Imagine a king writing this proverb.
So, Solomon turn to laboring to gain more and more possessions, to acquiring wealth and accomplishments for their own sake. Nevertheless, Solomon remained wise. Therefore, he eventually foresaw a problem.
What did Solomon say about idolizing the state? Since Solomon was the King of Israel, he was the state. Nevertheless, he was not happy with the state.
Consider why Solomon was so wise. He had asked God for wisdom so he could rule God’s people well (2 Chronicles 1:7-13 NASB – In that night God appeared to Solomon – Bible Gateway). Yet, because he had tried to live his life under the sun, Solomon knew he had failed.
In Ecclesiastes, does Solomon talk about making an idol of himself? Not directly, but consider the story Solomon tells in Ecclesiastes. Whenever Solomon encounters a problem pursuing the idols of sex, stuff, science, and state, Solomon turns to his own wisdom to resolve the problem. Eventually, however, he is humbled.
When we strive to live life under the sun instead of under Heaven, that is the definition of idolizing our self.
It not until the end of his life that Solomon finally gives up, sadly repents, and turns to God. Why is Solomon sad? He has grown old. Thus, Chapter 12, the last chapter, begins.
When we have grown old, there is so little we can do, except to warn those who follow after us of our follies.
So, what the lesson Solomon leaves us?
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spelled out pretty nicely Tom!
Reblogged this on boudica.us and commented:
H/T Citizen Tom
Thank you very much!
Excellent synopsis of King Solomon.
Now if only his story could be taught in depth to appropriate age schoolchildren.
Perhaps a lot of us might have understood why we should not make the same mistakes in our lives that Solomon discerned as folly of chasing after the wind of our vanities.
Only to wind up realizing when we grow old how we allowed the best seasons in our lives be wasted under the sun enjoying all the blessings of life given to them when we born.
And in spite of all his writings to advise us not to emulate his follies, we repeat the same follies in our lives. For example
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
“Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king’s successor do than what has already been done? (Ecclesiastes 2:12)
We need school choice, in my opinion, because to teach anything in the Bible is unlawful according to the ruling of the Supreme Court.
Sad. All his writings have wound up being futile because of our vaniities to believe we know better than the ancients.
Regards and goodwill blogging.
“modern scientists know little more than did the educated people of Solomon’s time.”
An obvious statement of futility.
When you are reduced to quoting a statement out of context, that is a bad sign. If you cannot make your point without excluding part of the statement, that is just pathetic.
Whatever the context Tom, the educated people of those days were the privileged priests or those from elite families learning the priesthood who learned to read and write, the math and the known practical sciences of the day. They had a philosophical approach in providing knowledge that guides individuals’ everyday lives, however with the focus being on religious doctrine it makes for a restricted field of expertise. The Bible clearly makes this point.
What the Bible does is give people a huge incentative for learning to read. Before the invention of the printing press, books were highly expensive. Therefore, there was not much to read, and only the wealthy had access to those books.
The Bible was the first book to be printed. The printing press, because it reduced the cost of books and pamplets, gave people a huge incentive to learn to read.
Did the invention of the printing press lead to an explosion in scientific knowledge, the industrial revolution? By itself? Probably not.
There is a reason that the explosion in scientific knowledge began in the Christian West. Christians created governments that did not stifle change, seeking to maintain the status quo, and Christians regarded Creation as orderly, rule based, because we believe in a God who is not the author of confusion.
Why don’t Christian governments stifle change? That is because we believe in God-given rights. We believe government exists to protect the rights of individuals, not to impose some damnable ideology or to protect the status of the ruling class.
Why did scientific knowledge explode in the Christian West? When we believe God is sovereign, we don’t believe that thing happen randomly. Instead, we seek to understand God by studying and admiring the beauty of His handywork.