Summary: The Rolling Stones sang a song titled, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Mick Jagger’s song perfectly describes the theme of the book of Ecclesiastes. Life without God at its center is vain, meaningless and unfulfilling.
October 1, 2017
BIBLE READING: Psalm 63:1-8
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Ecclesiastes 1.
Illus. – I remember one time as a teenager waiting in the car while my mother was talking with someone. I turned the key and flipped on the radio and heard a song by the Rolling Stones titled, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”
Even at that age, as I listened to the song, I thought, “How pathetic.” Though Mick Jagger’s song had a sensual meaning, his title aptly describes our world in which people are in an endless pursuit of fulfillment and satisfaction, but never seeming to be able to find it.
Illus. – I remember sitting out a typhoon in my later teenage years in Okinawa in the early 70’s. The only source of information in English during a typhoon was the American military radio and TV station, so we stayed glued to the radio during typhoons. I remember hearing a song several times on the radio during one of those typhoons titled, “Is That All There Is?” I don’t remember who sang it, or what the words to the stanzas were, but I never forgot the words to the chorus:
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friend,
Then let’s keep dancing…
Let’s bring out the booze…
And have a ball
You know what?—People everywhere are searching for lasting satisfaction and fulfillment.
- People live for MONEY, in search of satisfaction.
- People live for MATERIALISM in a desperate desire to find fulfillment.
- Some people look for satisfaction in A PERSON—a lover or a spouse.
- Some try DRUGS or ALCOHOL or ILLICIT SEX.
- Others try FALSE PHILOSOPHIES.
The Bible records a king named Solomon who sought for satisfaction in all the wrong places. The book of Ecclesiastes is a book in which Solomon chronicles his search for satisfaction, and the results of his search.
In chapter 1, Solomon begins by telling us what he discovered in his spiritual journey into hedonism. In chapters 2-11 he describes his search and reflects on it. In the last chapter, chapter 12, he gives us the solution for the heart longing for satisfaction.
He begins in chapter 1, verses 1 and 2 with what was his final discovery: “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” This what you might call his thesis statement. He declares up front what the whole book is going to be about.
He calls himself “the Preacher,” because he wants to warn us about the vanity of attempting to find fulfillment and satisfaction outside of God. And he says that all human activity in which God is excluded, regardless of what it may be, is ultimately VAIN.
The word “vanity” in verse 2 in the Hebrew originally literally meant “soap bubbles.” It came to mean “absurdity, frustration, futility, nonsense.” The closest equivalent in today’s English would probably be the word meaningless. All our attempts at searching for satisfaction outside of God are meaningless—soap bubbles—vain and purposeless.
Look what he says in verse 8 – “All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” In other words, there is no real satisfaction or fulfillment without God.
Now in the rest of chapter 1 and in chapter 2 Solomon details for us three areas in which he sought for satisfaction, and how he discovered each to be “vanity.” Let’s look at them, and then see Solomon’s conclusion to the matter in the last chapter:
I. SOLOMON FIRST SOUGHT FOR SATISFACTION IN FLESHLY (OR “SENSUOUS”) PLEASURES – Ecclesiastes 2:1-3
Notice three fleshly pleasures he sought to find satisfaction in, but found them to be vanity—soap bubbles.
1. First was Mirth – Ecclesiastes 2:1 – “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth,…”
The closest phrase that captures the Hebrew word translated “mirth” here is “having a good time.” This is the “Party Animal” philosophy. It was Solomon’s way of saying that he sought to have a good time…to live it up…to party…have fun. His motto could be summed up as “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
Our whole society is built around mirth and amusement and entertainment and escape. Many of them are not wrong in themselves, but the sad truth is that these can never bring true lasting fulfillment.
Note the last phrase of verse 1 and all of verse 2 – “…and, behold, this also is vanity. 2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?”
2. The second fleshly pleasure that Solomon pursued was IMMORALITY. – Solomon goes on in Ecclesiastes 2:1 saying he sought to “ENJOY PLEASURE…”