Believe it or not, all of us are engaged in a search either for happiness or to find the meaning of life. Look around you and think about what you see going on. As I look at the media, liturature, and culture itself I notice these six things:
1) A culture attempting to define human existence
2) A culture which asks does my life have any meaning?
3) A culture will which is afraid to ask the tough question about life.
4) A culture which is afraid of nothingness.
5) A culture which is afraid to be honest about itself.
6) A culture which wants answers to the tough questions, answers on how to be happy, and answers to the meaning of life.
That too, is what King Solomon was looking for, and here in Ecclesiastes we read about his search. As we engage this book we must briefly draw back to chapter one and gain some basic insights about this book. We learn that he was very rich, he was a wise man, and he had plenty of time on his hands. Yet, Solomon knew that something was still missing from his life and he began "grasping for the wind"(1:17). Yet he did not find meaning so he sought after mirth, pleasure, wine, and folly. I think of the song "My Way" written by Paul Anka:
And now, the end is near; And so I face the final curtian. My friends, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full. I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway; But more, much more than this, I did it my way.Regrets, I’ve had few; But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do And saw it through without exemption. I planned each charted course; Each careful step along the byway, But more, much more than this, I did it my way. Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew When I bit off more than I could chew. But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out. I faced it all and I stood tall; And did it my way. I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve had my fill; my share of losing. And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing. To think I did all that; And may I say - not in a shy way, "No, oh no not me, I did it my way". For what is man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels; And not the worst of one who kneels. The record shows I took the blows-And did it my way!
The question we must ask is will Solomon, Frank, and us find the answer? If not what is the answer?
Now we are introduced to what Solomon learned from his human experience will prove the claim I have been making. You know what Solomon radiates from his life is exactly what we see in our culture today although, many will deny it. It’s true so, journey with me as together we seek to learn from the past and make changes for today.
The Search For Meaning
1. Pleasure is vanity
2:1-3 "I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, ‘It is mad,’ and of pleasure, ‘What use is it?’ I searched with my mind how to cheer my body with wine--my mind still guided me with wisdom--and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven during the few days of life."
2. Enjoy Yourself - This is what I had
2:4-9 "I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted a me. ll kinds of trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourshing trees. I bought male and femals slaves and had other slaves who were born in the house. I also owned more herds and flocks then anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I aquired men and women singers, and a harem as well-the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far then anyone in Jerusalem before me. "
a. Palaces, houses, vineyards, orchards, water pools - 1 Kings 7:1- 12
b. 700 wives, 300 concubines - 1 Kings 11:1-3
c. 550 officals - 1 Kings 9:23
d. Money 120 talents of gold from Hiram - 1 Kings 9:14
420 " " from Ophar - 1 Kings 9:28