Summary: The Fourth in the series. Examines the purpose and meaning of life on earth. IT IS THE QUESTION EVERY PERSON SEEKS THE ANSWER TO... Why Am I Here?
From The Desk Of Pastor Toby Powers
Truth Baptist Church
WHAT DOEST THOU HERE, O MAN?
Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:11, 12:1-14
Intro: We looked the first week at Elijah and how the Lord came to him in the cave and asked him, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” The next week of our study we saw David and how his brother Eliab asked, “Why camest thou down hither?” Last week we asked Paul before Festus and Agrippa, “What Doest Thou Here?” Today, I want us the look at the most comprehensive discourse in the Bible concerning the question, “What Doest Thou Here?” Solomon sought to find out what he was doing here. Why man is, what man exists for, our purpose for living, what difference it really makes in how we live… these things have troubled man for as long as there has been human beings. Many travel long distances, climb mountains, walk on hot coals with bare feet, experiment with drugs, read many books, ask many philosophers, and can still not be satisfied with the answer to this question.
On October 13, 1992, Admiral James Stockdale, a virtual unknown to all those outside military ranks, stood in the vice presidential debate as the running mate for independent candidate Ross Perot. In his opening statement, Admiral Stockdale looked into the camera and with trembling voice and unsettled nerves made the first statement of his political career saying, “Who am I? Why am I here?” It brought great laughter and rousing applause, as virtually all America was interested in the answer to that question!
Solomon too asks this question. He, as an aging king, gathers all the seekers of wisdom to give the discourse of his search for purpose. This discourse is the book of Ecclesiastes. He begins to search for meaning in life and all the things done on earth or as he states it “under the sun” (1:13-14). He, by scientific method sought to determine what the meaning of life is. Using the scientific method, he tried various things, and he found out that they did not fulfill him. He describes this experience in 1:16-2:11. He sought:
But when he looked at it all in verse 11, he was not satisfied. He goes on in the book to tell us of how he loved women, lived wantonly, lied willfully, yet that never fulfilled him. And no matter what he did in the end, he says in 3:19, “even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath.” It seems that no matter what you do, the ultimate conclusion to each life is the same. Many things seem to matter in life, but none of these things matter at all in death! They are vanity! They are empty!
For each of these first eleven chapters, Solomon tells us what he learns about life under the sun. He tells us about the cycles of life, the times and the seasons that routinely happen in every man’s existence. He gives us a series of “betters”.
Better to enjoy the fruit of your labor with thanksgiving than to fret over what might or might not ever happen: Ecc 3:22 and 2:24, “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”
Better to have already lived and gone to your reward than to be in the midst of the labor under the sun: 4:3
Better to have a little with peace than much with constant turmoil: 4:6
Better are two than one: 4:9-12
Better to be poor, young, but wise, than to be an aged king with a closed mind: 4:13
Better to never vow a vow than to vow and break the vow: 5:5-7
Better to enjoy the present than to always desire for the next thing: 6:9
There are a series of “betters” in Ecclesiastes 7:1-10. Note v. 5 and 10
Better is a living dog than a dead lion: 9:4
Better is wisdom than strength or weapons: 9:16-18
Better is a snake that did not bite than the babbler who tells his story: 10:11
Still, though he learns all of what is better, he stumbles at finding what is BEST. Being rich was better than poor, being a man was better than being a beast, being wise was better than a being a fool, and being healthy was better than being sick. But in the end, ALL MEN STILL DIE THE SAME WAY! He concludes that if this life under the sun is all there is, we have little to nothing to live for. Yet, he understands that there is more. In chapter 12 the preacher tells us the conclusion of his study and exhorts us concerning three things that will give us purpose: