Summary: There are four questions we ask about life: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? These questions are asked by everyone at some point. Solomon asks all of those questions as he pursues the meaning in life.
A Life Worth Living
There are four questions we ask about life: Who am I? Where did I come from?
Why am I here? Where am I going? These questions are asked by everyone at some point. We want to know what our purpose for existence is.
Introduction – Life, What’s important
When I was 13, my dad owned his own business—a tiny shack where he sold chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries. One day the oil that the chicken was fried in caught fire. In a few minutes the whole place exploded in flames. My dad bolted from the store before the flames could engulf him.
Then my mom and I arrived on the scene, and we all stood outside watching the fire burn away my dad’s business. All of a sudden, my dad realized he had left his money in the metal cash register inside the building, and I watched in disbelief as he ran back into the inferno before anyone could stop him.
He tried to open the metal register, but the intense heat had already sealed the drawer shut. Knowing that every penny he had was locked in front of him about to go up into flames, he picked up the scalding metal box and carried it outside. When he threw the register on the ground, the skin on his arms and chest came with it. He had escaped the fire safely once, untouched. Then he voluntarily risked his life and was severely injured. The money was that important.
That was when I learned that money is obviously more important than life itself. From that point on, earning money—lots of money—not only became what drove me professionally, but also became my emotional priority. Suze Orman, 9 Steps to Financial Freedom (Random House, 2000), p. 3
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
The Preacher and his Words 1:1-2, 12
What’s really important in your life? We are about to find out what Solomon thinks is important.
“And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end and much study is wearisome to the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12 Want proof?
Illustration – The Library of Congress
The collections of the Library of Congress include more than 32 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 61 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, a Gutenberg Bible (one of only four perfect vellum copies known to exist); over 1 million US government publications; 1 million issues of world newspapers spanning the past three centuries; 33,000 bound newspaper volumes; 500,000 microfilm reels; over 6,000 comic book titles; films; 5.3 million maps; 6 million works of sheet music; 3 million sound recordings; more than 14.7 million prints and photographic images including fine and popular art pieces and architectural drawings; the Betts Stradivarius; and the Cassavetti Stradivarius.
Nearly 22,000 new items published in the U.S. arrive every business day at the Library. Contrary to popular belief, however, the Library does not retain all of these works in its permanent collection, although it does add an average of 10,000 items per day.
The Library of Congress states that its collection fills about 838 miles of bookshelves, while the British Library reports about 388 mi of shelves. The Library of Congress holds about 147 million items with 33 million books.
His Person 1
It appears that Solomon, the son of David, penned this book under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He remains unnamed except to say that he was the son of David. The criteria he establishes fits for Solomon.
His Position 1,12
Notice that he was King of Jerusalem and King of Israel. He was the Qoheleth: a collector (of sentences), a preacher and a public speaker. He had a position of respect and power.
His Problem 2
But he had a problem. He uses the word Vanity repeatedly. It means emptiness; the futility of life and no purpose. It is used four times in this verse alone. It comes from the Hebrew word הבל hebel which means breath, vapor or breeze. I like using the term “poof” it’s gone! The word is used for Abel’s name in Genesis. Little did Adam and Eve know their son would be “poof” gone!
Illustration - Bubbles (object lesson)
I took a bottle of children’s bubbles in the pulpits and demonstrated the meaning of emptiness or vanity by blowing bubbles which lasted briefly and then was gone. “Poof!”
Interestingly, we often seek the vapor “hebel” things in life rather than the important things in life! We should seek Christ alone! “Seek first the Kingdom of God” Matthew 6