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Solomon: He Had Everything, But Was Empty
– Solomon gave himself to every earthly alternative and found all these things to be empty in light of eternity. Like the lost son in Jesus’ story, when we give ourselves to these things, we find ourselves no better off.
– Solomon’s experience is proof for us that royalty, riches, and every pleasure cannot replace the life of God in your soul—a treasure worth selling the rest. “Our hearts are restless till they rest in You.” (Augustine)
God: The Chief End of Man
– The other side of Solomon’s coin is this: “the chief end of man is glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
– God is both the end for which we must live and the end to which we must go: when we die we will face God alone, and no excuses for our lives could appease one who sees all.
Death, the Great Equalizer
– The inevitability of death is mentioned in almost every chapter of Ecclesiastes. This is the most sobering of all thoughts as we remember that death is the result our sin; “death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Death and Our Responsibility
– Solomon was preoccupied with death because a realistic view of death begets a realistic view of life; the medieval writings of Thomas à Kempis remind us of this. “We cannot face life until we face death.” (Billy Graham)
– In light of the realities of death, eternity, and judgment, Ecclesiastes encourages fear of God as the first virtue to be attained, without which we are not ready to face death; in Proverbs, Solomon calls it “the beginning of wisdom.”
Evil and Our Response
– Evil is neither explained nor excused by Solomon; it is simply expressed as a fact.
– In the practical Hebrew view of things, there is no use in understanding evil or injustice without a commitment to obey what is good.
Enjoyment and Eternity
– The philosopher Nietzsche rightly stated that “All pleasure longs for eternity.”
– As Christians we have a twofold mandate to enjoy life and live eternity-conscious—but most of all, we are to enjoy eternal things.
If you want to learn about death and the afterlife, read The Christian After Death by Robert Ervin Hough.
If you want to put your mind on eternal things, challenge yourself with the writings of Leonard Ravenhill, such as Revival Praying, Revival God’s Way, and Why Revival Tarries; however, like all strong medicines I recommend you take in these books only as needed. Don’t overdose.
For some pragmatic insights on Ecclesiastes you can read Shade of His Hand by Oswald Chambers, written just before his death.
Death mentioned in Ecclesiastes:
“…the same event happens to them all.” 2:14
“A time to be born, and a time to die…” 3:2
“…as one dies, so dies the other… All go to one place.” 3:19-20
“As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return…” 5:15-16
“…even if he lives a thousand years twice… Do not all go to one place?” 6:6
“…And the day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth…” 7:1
“No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, and no one has power in the day of death. [There is] no release from that war…” 8:8
“All things [come] alike to all:
One event [happens] to the righteous and the wicked…” 9:2-6
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do [it] with your might; for [there] is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” 9:10
“Walk in the ways of your heart…But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.” 11:9
“Remember now your Creator… the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” 12:1-7
“Fear God and keep His commandments… For God will bring every work into judgment.” 12:13-14