Solomon addresses himself as “the Preacher”. He is the one that will proclaim the spritiual truths of God to those in his nation and to Christians throughout time.
Keep in mind, Solomon learned these truths by trying to find the meaning to life through experiencing all this world has to offer. Solomon was uniquely suited to earn these lessons and share these truths with the people of God…
First of all, very few men possess sufficient wealth and power to be able to sample all this world has to offer (1 Kings 10:23).
Secondly, only Solomon and a few others throughout time, have been universally respected causing his teachings to be taken very seriously and thoughtfully by all (1 Kings 4:30-34). (Keep in mind, even Christ Himself and His teachings were rejected by many of those around Him.)
Solomon was God’s man, in God’s place, at God’s time, by God’s grace, to learn this most important truth and proclaim it with authority to those he loved. May we all listen carefully as Solomon reveals to us the true meaning to life and answer the question… “What Is Our Life If Not Lived for The Lord ?”.
Eccl 2:12-17 –
“And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done. Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool. Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly:
Solomon now begins an investigation of the benefits of:
- worldly wisdom – worldly skills, abilities. Knowledgable of worldly things
- madness – foolishness, boastful ravings
- folly – silliness, jesting, joking
Do any of these hold a lasting value for us? Solomon will be seeking to answer this question for us.
for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.
Solomon was very thorough in his examination of these things. Apparently, he had observed and/or experienced many different aspects of wisdom, madness, and folly which allowed him to draw a conclusion on this subject. So much so that men who would come after Solomon would not be able to experience any differing aspects of the three nor draw any different conclusion than he.
Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.
As Solomon examined these he found that wisdom far excelled over folly. In other words, Solomon saw that exercising worldly knowledge and abilities far outweighed spending time performing acts of foolish jesting. As a matter of fact, these were as different as day and night.
The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.
A wise man perceives and understands what is taking place around him, because his eyes are in functioning properly. He sees the dangers that lies ahead and makes adjustments to avoid that danger. He sees the true nature of events that take place around him, giving him a clear view of his coming needs. The fool, on the other hand, is much like a man walking in a darkened room. He cannot see anything around him due to the darkness that blinds his eyes.
Based upon these differences, it seems as if worldly wisdom holds great lasting benefit for man, however….
Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.
Solomon came to realize that the wisdom of the world only holds very limited benefits for man during his life on earth, and then holds no lasting benefits in the afterlife.
Solomon saw that the worldly wise men share many difficult life experiences with fools. They both get physically ill, they both labor to meet their needs, they both face times of loss and heartache, they both grow old and eventually die. The list is endless.
This caused Solomon to recognize that both worldly wisdom and foolishness were vanity.
For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.
Another proof that both worldly wisdom and foolishness are both vain is the universality of death and man’s accompanying irrelevance.
Again, we can see the limited temporal value of worldly wisdom and the worthlessness of worldly wisdom following death.
Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
After seeing that the pursuit of carnal pleasures (vs 1-3), the pursuit of material possessions (vs 4-11) and the pursuit of worldly wisdom (vs 12-17) are all short-lived and without eternal benefit, Solomon says “I hated life”. He saw no purpose in living, saw that life only involved a hard existence with no lasting benefits, and realized that seeking long-tern value in this life is simply grasping at the winds.
Solomon’s quest led him to examine wisdom, madness and folly. After looking at many different aspects of each, Solomon saw that the possession of worldly wisdom did hold its temporal benefits for man. However, as Solomon looked at these things from a standpoint of lasting benefit for man, he came to the conclusion that “this also is vanity”.
Folks, sadly, in many ways, human talents and knowledge, prideful boastings, and meaningless joking and acts of silliness, are highly valued by many in the world today. However, Solomon was able to clearly show us that these human attributes can never bring us genuine lasting joy and fulfillment to our lives.
May we all seek to see these things as they are, not as the world sees them, and seek to live our lives in such a way that places that which gives our life meaning and joy the first priority.
Solomon’s pursuit of the meaning of life included:
|1.||2:1-3||The pursuit of carnal desires (the base pleasures found in a fallen world)|
|2.||2:4-11||The pursuit of material possessions through human labors|
|3.||2:12-17||The pursuit of worldly wisdom, madness and folly|
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