1. “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard of no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
2. Solomon asks the question, “Is life really worth living?” In essence he says – No! It seems to be a tale told by an idiot, signifying absolutely nothing.
3. The Subject of the book – Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity!
Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 (MSG)
1 These are the words of the Quester, David's son and king in Jerusalem:
2 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That's what the Quester says.] There's nothing to anything—it's all smoke.
3 What's there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
I. First, the Man who wrote this Journal. V.1
A. He is a Speaker.
Preacher – it means, “One who assembles others, in order to give an address.” A preacher, teacher, philosopher, speak of the house, etc.”
B. He is a man of Stature.
son of David, king in Jerusalem – the only son David had, that was king, was Solomon
son of David……………………..I Kings 2:1
king of Jerusalem………………..8:1
heart of wisdom (1:13)…….........3:12
great accomplishments (2:4-6)…7:1-12
great wealth (2:77-10)………….10:14-23
many of thousand women (7:28)..11:1-8)
Point is this man had the resources to search out every avenue of life. He tried it all and says to us none of it is worth the effort!
II. Furthermore, his Motto.
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity – after trying to find meaning in life through women, wealth, wisdom, etc., he finds it all empty.
A. It is a Figure of speech.
A Hebraism – the object of this figure of speech is not to deceive but to emphasize by either overstatement or understatement of the facts. [Baughman]
B. It is also a Fact of life – life seems vain.
vanity – lit. “a vapor” or “breath” like our breath on a brisk winter. It’s there and then gone…
Ecclesiastes 1:2 (AMP)
2 Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities, says the Preacher. Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities! All is vanity (emptiness, falsity, and vainglory).
Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NCV)
2 The Teacher says, “Useless! Useless! Completely useless! Everything is useless.“
Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV)
2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 (TLB)
2 In my opinion, nothing is worthwhile; everything is futile.
3 For what does a man get for all his hard work?
what advantage does man have in all his work – the word “advantage” means “to remain over.” When we have labored what is left? What do we really gain? Very little if anything!
His Motto is that life is basically empty and meaningless.
David Allen Hubbard president of Fuller Theological Seminary wrote, “Futile days we can expect from time to time. Some of what we plan will miscarry. Paths that look promising will peter out and force us to backtrack. Pillars that we lean on will collapse and send our hopes tumbling down on us.
When sickness strikes or financial reverses hit, futile days stretch into empty weeks or months. There have been times when we heaved sighs as we ripped December’s page from the calendar and welcome a new year that offered better days than the old.
The futility is a kin to irony, because it is full of surprises. We find it where we least expect it. Values that we treasure prove false; efforts that should satisfy increase our thirst. Ironic futility, futile irony – that is the color of life.”
III. Finally, the Mind-set. 3b
under the sun – this is the key to understanding this book. It appears about 29 times, it speaks of looking at life from a mere humanistic point of view. Solomon is a believer but he is showing us what life is really like WITHOUT INCLUDING GOD AND AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE in one’s thinking.
Mark 8:36-38 (NKJV)
36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
1 Corinthians 15:19 (NKJV)
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
Trans: A warning, under the sun existence, is meaningless living.
One wrote, “I woke up one day and thought, ‘What difference does it make if I go to work or go to Bermuda or just stay in bed all day? Of course I went to work, but the meaning, the pizzazz was all gone.”
James Dobson had a friend who died unexpectedly; one of his colleagues gave a 5 minute eulogy and called for a moment of silence. Then it was back to business as usual. Dobson observes:
“I was thinking, “Lord is that what it all comes down to? We sweat and worry and labor to achieve a place in life, to impress our fellow men with our competence. We take ourselves so seriously, overreacting to the insignificant events of each passing day. Then finally even for the brightest among us will fade into history and our lives are summarized with a 5 minute eulogy and sixty seconds of silence. It hardly seems worth the effort Lord.”
1. As we study this book we must keep in mind the writers Motto and Mind-set.
2. John Denver had a song, “Gravel on the Ground”
“If our lives could lie before us
Like a straight and narrow highway
So that we could see forever
Long before we took the ride
We would never look to heaven
Make a wish or climb a mountain
“Cause we’d always know the answer
To what’s on the other side.
But life ain’t no easy freeway
Just some gravel on the ground
You pay for ev’ry mile you go
And you spread some dust around
But we all have destinations
And the dust will settle down
This life ain’t no easy freeway
Just some gravel on the ground.”
If we leave God and eternity out of the picture, life will become boring, frustrating, and meaningless.
Johnny Palmer Jr