Summary: If you had everything you wanted, your life would be meaningless. The answer is found in surrender to God and freedom to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
One Cul-de-sac After Another
1. Human beings are different from animals in many ways. Animals don’t worry about purpose in life, leaving a permanent mark on society. The quest for meaning should lead us to God, but, unfortunately, we try to find meaning somewhere else.
2. When we lived in parsonage, people would turn into parking lot thinking it was a street, loop around. Now that live on a Cul-de-sac on King street, the same thing!
A street may seem like a promising short cut, but then it turns into a dead end.
Main Idea: If you had everything you wanted, your life would be meaningless. The answer is found in surrender to God and freedom to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
I. The “More is Better” Philosophy Will Let You DOWN (1-11).
A. Would having everything you ever wanted or craved — and surrounding yourself with beauty — make life WORTHWHILE?
1. We might think of putting such a question to the test, but we do not have the means, the authority, or the freedom to do so.
2. Solomon had it all. Perhaps the most powerful and richest man in the world, answerable to no human authority. Like a criminal, he had means, motive, and opportunity..
3. He was Bill Gates, Casa Nova, John Wayne, and Vladimir Putin — and a few others — in one.
B. Did unrestrained ENJOYMENT give life the meaning he sought (1-3)?
• Solomon did not become an alcoholic, but a wine connoisseur, experimenting with altering his mind to see if this would help him figure things out.
C. Did diligent EMPLOYMENT do the trick (4-11)?
1. His building campaigns were unsurpassed in Israel. The people resented the heavy taxation and labor conscription, year after year.
2. He was anything but lazy; he oversaw Israel’s most prosperous and powerful time and was hard-driving. He played seriously and he worked seriously.
3. He also sinned seriously. Property, parks, music, sex, riches. (cf. vs. 10)
I Kings 4:22-23; 11:3, “Solomon’s provisions for one day were 150 bushels of fine flour and 300 bushels of meal, 10 fattened oxen, 20 range oxen, and 100 sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and pen-fed poultry… He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines, and they turned his heart away from the Lord.”
4. His experiment failed. Even all this could not satisfy!
5. It is foolish, therefore, to be materialistic, money-hungry, keep up with the Joneses, or succumb to workaholism.
I read a story about a rich American businessman while vacationing in Mexico who was disturbed to find a fisherman just sitting lazily beside his boat. "Why aren't you out there fishing?" he asked. "Because I've caught enough fish for today," said the fisher-man. "Why don't you catch more fish than you need?" the rich man asked. "What would I do with them?" "You could earn more money," came the impatient reply, "and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase better nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you'd have a fleet of boats and be rich like me." The fisherman asked, "Then what would I do?" "You could sit down and enjoy life," said the industrialist. "What do you think I'm doing now?" the fisherman replied. [John Hamby, Sermon Central]
II. Wisdom Makes for a Better Life, But It Does Not LAST and Is Not More Meaningful (12-23).
A. People who value wisdom usually seek MORE wisdom and LEARN from others mistakes instead of repeating them (12).
B. It is one thing to possess wisdom, another to LIVE wisely.
1. Jesus told parable 2 houses — one built on the sand, one upon bedrock. Did the foolish man know that it was better to build a house on bedrock, or was he ignorant? It’s a story. But it makes the point better if he knew better.
2. When we make bad choices, we usually know better. Yet we chose to close our eyes to reality & let our emotions decide for us. We sabotage ourselves so that we don’t feel as guilty (window shopping but take credit card).
C. Wisdom is an ADVANTAGE in this life, but cannot prevent what will happen.
1. Wise people live BETTER lives.
2. Diligent people may accumulate quite a STASH, but you cant’ take it with you.
• Uncle Joe’s stamp collection;
• People cannot give away sets of China…
• And nothing will take the love of collecting anything like getting too much dumped on you…the joy is in the collecting, not just the having…
3. Wise people still must die and cannot CONTROL everything even when alive, and certainly not when dead!
4. Wise people can beget FOOLISH children (like Rehoboam) and heirs and lose everything!