Summary: Let's look at the Book of Ecclesiastes & review some of the things that Solomon tells us about his life - when he came to the edge of the cliff, what he saw, & the conclusions he reached. (PowerPoints available - #170)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #170.)
ILL. Billy Graham once wrote, "I've met so many entertainment stars whose day is past. How unhappy & lonely & empty they feel. I've talked with many athletes & former political leaders who feel the same way.
“They have a moment of glamour, a moment when they're known, a moment when their name is on the front page; then it is over. And now they feel lonely, unhappy, & empty."
A. In the Book of Ecclesiastes we read the words of Solomon, who had it all. He tells us, "I tried everything. I sought every pleasure. I gained great knowledge. I possessed unsurpassed wealth & power. I had the power & resources to do anything I wanted to do."
Yet, in spite of all that, in Ecclesiastes 2:11, he declares, "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done & what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."
In fact, in chapter 1, vs. 2 in the King James Version, he cries out, "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity." Or, in the words of the NIV version which most of you have, "Meaningless! Meaningless! ... Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!"
ILL. When Mark Chapman was sentenced for the murder of John Lennon, he said, "I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff, & all I can see is oblivion ahead."
I wonder, how many people feel like that? "I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff, & all I can see is oblivion ahead."
PROP. Let's look at the Book of Ecclesiastes & review some of the things that Solomon tells us about his life - when he came to the edge of the cliff, what he saw, & the conclusions he reached.
I. SOLOMON ACQUIRED GREAT KNOWLEDGE
A. First of all, Solomon acquired great knowledge. In chapter 1, vs. 16 He wrote, "I have grown & increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me."
In 1 Kings 4:30 we read, "Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, & greater than all the wisdom of Egypt."
In Ecclesiastes 1:17-18 Solomon went on to say, "I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom. . .but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow."
Getting a Ph.D may fulfill one of our dreams, but all the knowledge in the world won't satisfy. You see, there's a difference between knowledge & wisdom.
You can have your head full of knowledge, yet not have the wisdom to use the knowledge effectively & beneficially.
That's one trouble with our world. Our technology now surpasses our morals, & we are in danger of destroying ourselves. We have the knowledge to do it, & have fashioned the key to our own genocide in the society we have created.
B. The Bible has a lot to say about the mind. We are to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, & mind.” But the Bible also says, "The world through its wisdom did not know God" (1 Corinthians 1:21), for our minds have been affected & infected by evil.
Our minds are important, but we cannot just think our way to God. We must first come by faith, & then our mind will support our faith as we study the Scriptures & find them to be true.
SUM. Solomon had knowledge & wisdom. But they didn't satisfy. He said, "It's utterly meaningless. It's a chasing after the wind."
II. SOLOMON GAVE HIMSELF TO PLEASURE
Solomon also gave himself to pleasure. In Ecclesiastes 2:1 he says, "I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.'"
So he tried wine, women, & song. He drank the finest wines from golden goblets. He had 700 wives & 300 concubines. He had every pleasure everything at his beck & call. Hundreds of servants & every exotic food from around the world.
Yet he said, "It's a chasing after the wind. It's empty. All this pleasure has satisfied nothing in my soul. Only God can satisfy my soul."
ILL. Billy Graham said, "I have traveled the world over to preach the gospel. I have traveled all over Africa & Latin America … Asia & Europe, even the islands of the sea. And I have discovered one interesting fact. People are the same everywhere." As far as spiritual things are concerned, there is no difference.