Have you ever won a game that you are playing with one or more of your friends? It feels good, right? At that moment you feel the rush of victorious joy, but a few hours later, it doesn't much matter who won. You have to play and win again to feel that same feeling. Then, if you win every time, even that feeling wears down nothing. Why is that? Well King Solomon, the wisest and richest man ever, tackles that very question plus a few more. And who better than the man who could have anything, do anything or command anything to share his quest for "the meaning of life."
Basically the book of Ecclesiastes talks about the frustrations, futility and unanswered questions of life, then the teacher (King Solomon) wraps it all up in the very last paragraph by encouraging us to live a God-centered life. We will go through the first six chapters in this post and the last six chapters in the next post. I just wanted to let you know ahead of time that there is a light at the end of the eccliasastical tunnel.:)
The teacher begins the book and chapter 1 by saying that everything is meaningless. He points out the monotony of nature, instead of God's incredible creation (Psalm 95:4-5). Then he points out how useless it is for men to work, instead of how work is a God-ordained blessing (John 5:17) He ends the first chapter talking about how being wise and searching for wisdom amounts to nothing.When God clearly says that wisdom is a gift from Him to glorify Him (James 3:17)
In chapter 2, the teacher starts off by saying that enjoying life and laughter is totally futile. He built parks and vineyards and large houses, but it was all just a waste of time and resources. But God says in his word that He has made this day, everything good in it is a gift, and we should rejoice in it.(James1:17) (Psalm118:24) Then in chapter 2 he also repeats the fact that wisdom and work are meaningless.
Chapter 3 starts off with a beautiful poem (it was even made into a song by the Byrds in 1965) then the teacher continues by acknowledging God's purpose and living our lives in the light of eternity.
1For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
9What do people really get for all their hard work? 10I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
14And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. 15What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.
Then the teacher returns to the negative script and talks about how life is not fair. Well he is right about that. Sin is in our world. Bad things happen to good people, but God promises to never leave our side.(Deuteronomy 31:8)
The teacher continues about the unfairness of life in Chapter 4, Then he adds a positive side note. He says that two people together can get more done together than they can seperately. If one falls, the other is there to help him get up. If a man falls alone, he is in trouble. Then he states the fact that three are even better. "A chord of three strands is not easily broken." (vs. 11) Then as a king, he says that he sees the futility of political power. God tells us to pray for our leaders and that He has placed them there for His purpose.(Romans 13:1)
Chapter 5 begins with an exhortation to approach God with reverence. And if we make any promises to God, keep them, and keep them as quickly as possible. For it is better to say nothing, than to make a promise to Him and not keep it.(vs 5) He finishes up the chapter talking about how useless it is to be wealthy. God talks about money a lot in the Bible. Wealth is not useless and money is not bad according to God. Wealthy people who give to bring God glory can bless so many people.(Matthew 6:21) But we don't have to be wealthy to give. God can use a little to accomplish much. And it doesn't just have to be money. It could be our time and our talents as well.
In chapter 6 the teacher talks some more about being rich verses being poor. He says that t both rich and poor get sick and they both die, the only difference is that the rich man leaves more behind that he never got the chance to enjoy. God tells us through Paul to be content whether rich or poor because God gives us the strength to live a fulfilled life in Him. (Philippians 4:12-13)
Thanks to Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales) for this clip from whatsinthebible.com