Oct 13, 2021
This week we kick-off a new series, “Meaning(less)” a study of the book of Ecclesiastes. In case you didn’t know, the book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon who himself was the son of King David. This book is known for tackling some of life’s greatest questions. We’re going to spend most of today looking at the first two chapters . . .
Ultimately, Solomon concluded that only God can provide a coherent set of meaningful answers to life’s greatest questions.
1) The Tone of the Book (1:1-11)
It doesn’t take long to see that the overall tone of Ecclesiastes is cynical . . . pessimistic . . . and in some cases DARK.
“The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ . . . All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11)
Much of the book—on the surface—can be a downer, not least because of the repeated use of the word “vanity” or “meaningless.” It’s translated from the Hebrew word “hevel”—which means “lack of substance.”
Let’s remember that Solomon was not simply contemplating the potential of these cynical and pessimistic thoughts. Rather, he was a man who was in fact wrestling with ALL of them. He was wrestling with the reality of spiritual erosion and the meaningless life that it produces.
2) The Tale from the King (1:12-2:23)
For the rest of chapter 1 and all of chapter 2, Solomon dips into his own biography. In this section, we see the personal pronoun “I” 40 times—that’s half of all the occurrences in the book. Someone has called it the “vertical pronoun.” And he tells the story about how he pursued worldly wisdom, worldly pleasure, worldly legacy, and worldly effort—all apart from God—and at the end of the day, he said, “Without God . . . it’s all meaningless.”
3) The Truth about the Lord (2:24-26)
We’ve got a lot to talk about in the coming weeks in our Ecclesiastes series, don’t we? And some of it will sound cynical, some of it will be dark. And as we think about our own experiences and our own observations, we’re going to do some serious soul searching.
But Solomon ends the tale from the king on a positive note, just so we don’t walk away from his story feeling depressed. He comes back to the truth about the Lord.
“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)
Please remember what I told you last week—every book in the Old Testament somehow, someway points us to Jesus. And what did Jesus say about Solomon? “Jesus said, ‘The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.’” (Matthew 12:42)
In closing, let’s ponder on this verse, “Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)