Full Life vs. Empty Life--1 1-3.docx
In this book, the Preacher (Solomon), the wisest, richest most influential king in Israel’s history.
He looks at life “under the sun” from the human perspective and declares it all to be empty.
Power, popularity, prestige, pleasure nothing can fill the God-shaped void in man’s life but God Himself.
But once seen from God’s perspective, life takes on meaning and purpose causing Solomon to exclaim, “eat, drink, rejoice, do good, live, joyfully, fear God, keep His commandments”
Solomon, in these writings, is contrasting a self-centered lifestyle with a God-centered one.
Let me ask a question, can purpose for life be found in nature, money, self-indulgence, property, position, intelligence, philosophy, and religious observance?
The world does not contain the key to itself. It can’t be found only in God.
The theme of this book appears to be “meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.
He lived in a world riddled through with vanity, futility and frustration.
Man chose to become self-centered and self-guided rather than remaining God-centered and God-guided.
As a result, man became earthbound and frustrated
In this book, 38 times Solomon used the word, “vanity.”
The word means emptiness, futility, vapor, that which vanishes quickly and leaves nothing behind.
A Jewish writer once described life as “a blister on top of a tumor and a coil on top of that.”
Read Verses so that We can Know Him and Make Him Known
1) The Writer-vs. 1
a) He called himself “son of David” and “king in Jerusalem” and he claimed to have great wealth and wisdom.
b) In response to Solomon’s humble prayer, God promised him both wisdom and wealth
c) 1 Kings 3:3-15—” Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what you wish me to give you.” Then Solomon said, “You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. “Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. “Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. “I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. “If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.” Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and made peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.
d) Solomon begins his reign as a humble servant of the Lord
e) Note: Don’t most? One of the most difficult things to remember and be affected by, is humble beginning.
f) It will keep you grateful
g) As Solomon grew older, his heart turned away from God to the false gods of the many wives he had taken from foreign lands
h) The longer he served the colder he grew
i) He began to compromise
j) Solomon’s marriages were motivated primarily by politics, not love, as he sought alliances with the nations around Israel.
k) Many of the things Solomon did that seemed to bring glory to Israel were actually contrary to the Word of God.
l) Much like today—
i) We are a nation that accepts pornography but hates abuse
ii) A nation that doesn’t believe in genders but fights for women’s rights
iii) We believe in no child left behind but has aborted over 60 million children
m) He is culminating
n) No amount of money or authority could stop the silent but sure ripening of divine judgment
o) The King’s latter years were miserable because God removed His hand of blessing and maintained Solomon’s throne only because of His promise to David in 1 Kings 11
p) Ecclesiastes appears to be the kind of book that a person would write near the close of life, reflecting on life’s experiences and the lessons learned.
q) It is believed that Solomon wrote Proverbs and Song of Solomon during the years he faithfully walked with God.
r) Ecclesiastes came near the end of his life
s) As Solomon writes, he is not so much writing for the listeners as debating with himself
2) Solomon’s Words—vs. 2-3
a) The phrase that repeats through the book “vanity of vanities”
b) This refers to whatever disappears quickly, leaves nothing behind and does not satisfy
c) Someone defined as “whatever is left after you break a soap bubble”
d) Whether he considers his wealth, his works, his wisdom or his world, Solomon comes to the same conclusions
e) “Under the sun” is used 29 times while “under heaven” is used 3 times
f) It defines the outlook of the writer as he looks at life from a human perspective and not necessarily from heaven’s point of view
g) He applies his own wisdom and experience to the complex human situation and tries to make some sense out of life
h) Solomon writes this inspiration of what God wanted his people to have
i) G. Campbell Morgan said, “this man has been living through all these experiences under the sun, concerned with nothing above the sun, until there came a moment in which he had seen the whole of life.”
j) And there was something over the sun
k) It is only as a man takes account of the which is over the sun as well as that which is under the sun that things under the sun are seen in their true light
l) The word advantage is the same word “profit”
m) It means excellent: surplus, advantage, gain: that which is left over.
n) Solomon asks, in the light of all the puzzles and problems of life, “what is the advantage of living.”
o) To “labor” to toil to the point of exhaustion and yet experience little or no fulfillment in your work.
p) It carries the ideas of grief, misery, frustration and weariness
q) A person’s daily work might seem to be futile and burdensome, but the Christian believer can always claim 1 Cor. 15:58
r) 1 Cor. 15:58—” Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
s) Solomon was the ideal person to write this book, for he possessed the wealth, wisdom and opportunities necessary to carry out the “experiments” required for this investigation into the meaning of life.
t) Mark 8:36—” “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
u) We ought to accept Solomon’s conclusions and avoid the heartache and pain that must be endured when you experiment in the laboratory of life
v) Solomon says we need to make a practical investment
w) He lets us know that no matter how much wealth, education, or social prestige you may have, life without God is futile
x) You are only chasing after the wind if you expect to find satisfaction and personal fulfillment in the things of the world
y) Solomon had everything and yet his life was empty
z) Solomon says we need to also have a personal investment
aa) If you don’t know Christ then all that you work for and live for will ultimately perish, and you will perish also
bb) We have to invest in that which is eternal
Let me point out two things as we close
Eccl 2:4—” I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself;
Ecc. 12:11-14—” The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
When we start living for the world instead of for the will of God, you begin to look at life from the wrong perspective: “under the sun and not “above the sun”
This wrong vision soon causes you to adopt wrong values and you stop living the eternal.
The result is disappointment and defeat
The only remedy is repentance and confession of sin
1 John 1:9—” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Someone has said, “life is a crowded superhighway with bewildering cloverleaf exits on which a man is liable to find himself speeding back in the direction he came.”
Solomon has already explored the road exhaustively and given us a dependable map to follow