Summary: The human heart is in full view in the Book of Ecclesiastes and the human heart takes a final bow at the end of chapter 11. Solomon is not wrong to focus on the human heart. Our hearts are an important part of our identity and how we view the world.
WISE LIVING: WARNINGS OF THE HEART
READ ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER 11:1-10 [Person from the Congregation]
INTRODUCTION… ‘The Heart Ramon’ (retelling of Final Duel from ‘A Fist Full of Dollars’)
In the best western movie scene ever written and acted in the history of all movies, explosions go off in the distance in town and the eyes of every bad hombre on the street looks to the horizon. The big boss of the bad guys, Ramon, steps forward and peers into the smoke. The smoke blows through town and when it clears, the Man with No Name, the good guy, is standing there. He just stands there as a challenge. Each of the bad guys look at each other and they don’t know what to do.
Ramon gathers his rifle and his gang members and steps forward. The Man with No Name also steps forward. It is a classic wild west standoff in the middle of town. Townsfolk cower. Mothers and fathers hide their children.
“Heard you wanted to see me?” the good guy says.
“You are dead,” Ramon says. He shoots the good guy and he falls back to the ground. The bad guys chuckle until the hero rises from the dirt and is clearly not dead. Shock. Awe. A little bit of worry.
“What’s wrong Ramon,” the hero taunts, “Are you losing your touch?”
Another shot. The hero falters, but he does not go down.
“You afraid Ramon?” the hero questions. Then he instructs, “To shoot to kill you better hit the heart. Those are your own words, Ramon.” This was what Ramon thought he had already done twice. Two more rapid shots and the Man with No Name is again on the ground. He gets up. There is doubt on every face.
“The heart Ramon, don’t forget the heart,” the hero taunts again moving closer to the desperados.
Shot. Shot. Shot. Shot.
The hero rises. And then it happens. Ramon fears.
The Man with No Name steps forward and lifts his cloth poncho to reveal a metal plate slung over his neck and covering his chest. The large metal plate slides to the ground. Every shot Ramon made had hit home right to the heart. There is much tension.
The desperados draw on the hero and he not only takes out all of the bad guys, but shoots the rifle right out of the hand of Ramon, the chief bad guy. I don’t need to tell you the end of the story, the good guy wins the day.
We are in Ecclesiastes 11 today and King Solomon says to us the very same thing the Man with No Name says to Ramon… “The heart, don’t forget the heart.” Solomon mentions the word ‘heart’ 34x in Ecclesiastes so he talks about the heart a lot and the condition of our heart is always in view. I would say that much of the Book of Ecclesiastes Solomon, the Teacher King, has a whole lot of rottenness in his heart he is dealing with. Ecclesiastes is one long attitude problem after another where his heart is jaded, cynical, sad, angry, clueless, lost, and wants desperately to find a wise way of living. He rightly sees that life is difficult and unfair and many times he’s not sure how to deal with it all.
For King Solomon, the heart is an unhappy place whether his heart is seeking after wisdom or he is throwing himself into foolish things. In 1:13 he says…
READ ECCLESIASTES 1:13 (ESV)
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
And then in 2:1 he says in contrast…
READ ECCLESIASTES 2:1 (ESV)
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.
His heart is so lost that in wise things and in foolishly pleasurable things he finds no meaning. We talked a few weeks ago about how Solomon is also often shaken to his core about death. He sees wise people die and he sees foolish people die. It all seems pointless. His heart is filled with sadness. In 2:15, he says…
READ ECCLESIASTES 2:15 (ESV)
Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.
He also knows that it is in the heart where bad things lie. He specifically in chapter 7 identifies that anger is a problem in the human heart as well as cursing others which to me sounds a lot like anger in action…
READ ECCLESIASTES 7:9 (ESV)