I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, cont’d. Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12
Having clarified that ultimately he had found the meaning of life…Solomon now returns to the story of his various pursuits that had failed to provide an answer. He reviews several of these pursuits and considerations that only proved the vanity of life when one is "striving after the wind" (:4:4,1,16; 6:9), and living "under the sun" (4:1,7,15; 5:13; 6:1,12).
Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 Through Power and Oppression
Solomon recognizes the sorrow of those who are facing oppression...and that they had no one to comfort them. He says that it would have been better to have never been born than to face what they have to deal with. The answer to life certainly does not lie in the fate of those who are oppressed. Vanity.
Ecclesiastes 4:4-12 Through Individualism and Selfishness
He takes notice of the competition for survival among people...they literally are working themselves to death. Life and the pleasures that it offers were being passed up in order to work harder to gain more. The man does not even realize that he is passing right by the very things that can bring him happiness. And, when he dies, he has on dependents to leave what he has earned to. This man is alone in the world...he has become self-consumed. Solomon says that it is better to go through life with a companion because they support each other...
- they are twice as productive;
- if one falls the other lifts him up;
- they provide comfort for each other;
- they stand together against their enemies.
In fact, it is even better when there are three working together. The answer to life does not belong to those who care only for themselves. Vanity.
Ecclesiastes 4:13-16 Through Self-Promotion
Solomon recognizes the fact that there seems to be no rational explanation about how things happen in life. For instance, who would ever expect that a man born into poverty would become king? And then, to make things even more difficult to explain…the people who had previously supported the king…now support the man who takes his place. He realizes the vanity of trusting fickle people (support you one day, support someone else the next). Vanity.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 Through Meaningless Religion
The vanity of foolish (unthoughtful, careless) religion. Solomon identifies several attitudes of meaningless religion…
- “Guard your steps” (:1)…Don’t go running to God in an irreverent manner, as if He is just some impersonal, mindless power that you are going to try to curry favor from. Instead, be careful, attentive, show respect when you approach God.
- “draw near to listen” (:1)…Don’t try to use God by telling Him what you want Him to do for you. Instead, listen to what He says and what He wants from you.
- “Do not be hasty in word…” (:2)…Don’t rush through your worship. Just repeating words without giving them any thought. This is not just a human in whose presence you stand. This is the God of Heaven.
- “When you make a vow…” (:4-6)…Don’t tell God that you are going to do something and then just halfway do it, if it all. Take seriously the commitments you make to God.
It is a total contradiction to say that God has given you dreams to know things that others don’t know and words of instruction…if you turn right around and don’t live a life of reverence for God. There is no meaning of life to be found in the pursuit of religion that doesn’t draw you closer to God. Vanity.
Ecclesiastes 5:8-20 Through Hoarding Riches
There is corruption of government at every level (:8). This is a commonly accepted practice because people think that somehow if it is allowed they will be benefited (:9). Due to the instability of riches, and the uncertainty of tomorrow…it is vanity to trust your life to them. The rich man who trusts in his riches is only setting himself up to be hurt (:10-17). Solomon says that it is better to enjoy what you have, than to be consumed by what you don't have. Enjoy the things that God has given you. To try and find the meaning of life by accumulating more and more wealth is senseless. Vanity.
Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 Through Infatuation with the Future
Ecclesiastes 6:1-3-We find here a man who has much to be thankful for. This includes…
- Wealth (:2)
- Children (:3)
- Long life (:3,6).
However, he is so caught up with how things might be in the future (both the possibilities and the problems) that he cannot enjoy what he already has.
Ecclesiastes 6:4-6-Solomon says that it would be better to have been a miscarried child (never having been born) than to be this man. Neither one of them could control the future (the outcome of their life). But the miscarried child would never have the worries and concerns that the man would have.
Ecclesiastes 6:7-All of the work that we do has a purpose…to provide the necessities for life. And yet, when we have them, we are not satisfied with them.
Ecclesiastes 6:8-9-This is true of everyone…the foolish man, the wise man, and the poor man. None of them will do better than the next when it comes to “knowing how to walk among the living”. This phrase speaks of knowing how to get along in life and be happy. The point: if you are never satisfied with what you have and are always looking to the future…then your financial status won’t matter. Fool, wise, poor…regardless of their financial status…will all have the same attitude and will all suffer the same fate if all they do is look to future and what it may, or may not, bring, while ignoring the present and not enjoying what they already have.
Ecclesiastes 6:10-You cannot control the future. So, if you are placing all of your hopes on the future…you could be in for a huge disappointment. And keep in mind…for the person who is always looking to the future and never satisfied with the present…when does the future arrive? Generally, for such a person it never arrives. So, they spend their entire life looking to the future and never enjoying the present. Then they die.
Ecclesiastes 6:11-12-Everybody seems to have advice for what to do in order to secure the future…but, none of them can control the future, either. So what good are they? What advantage do you gain by listening to them? Vanity.
Prayer: Father, help me to have a healthy balance in terms of living in today and looking for tomorrow. I thank You for all of Your blessings. All that You have allowed me to have. Help me to enjoy life as You have given it to me…now. And I thank You for what lies ahead. Both in life that is yet to come here, in this physical realm…and in life that is yet to come there, in the spiritual realm of Heaven with You. Help me to live my life here in light of the life that I will have there.