Ecclesiastes and Vanity of Life, Part 7
I intended to cover verses 1 – 3 of Ecclesiastes 2 in our last article, but only got through verse 1. We’ll pick it up with verse 3 and cover that and verse 2 in this segment.
Previously, we noted that Solomon is using various situations within the secular arena to prove his thesis, that all is vanity or utterly futile. Most recently, in Ecclesiastes 2:1, we noted that Solomon included self-indulgent living in his discussion. He showed that all self-indulgent living is futile. It is like chasing the wind. It comes to nothing and ultimately has no value outside the secular realm.
We briefly highlighted the fact that Bill Gates, Will Smith, Johnny Galecki, and many others who are worth millions or even billions, have really added nothing to their lives in the spiritual realm. Everything they’ve accomplished, including the value of their bank accounts only adds value to their lives in the secular realm and only for as long as they live. I suppose one could argue that if Bill Gates physically lived forever in this life, without the possibility of dying, then his billions would matter. Unfortunately for Bill Gates and all of us, death is the great equalizer. It will take all of us and no matter what treasures we amass in this life, we will be unable to take any of those treasures with us into the next life, eternity.
Solomon dealt with that argument in Ecclesiastes 2:1. Following that, he moves onto two other points of note. He talks of living the high life, or partying as well as drinking a great deal of wine.
2 I said of partying, “It is folly,”
and of self-indulgent pleasure, “It accomplishes nothing!”
3 I thought deeply about the effects of indulging myself with wine
(all the while my mind was guiding me with wisdom)
and the effects of behaving foolishly,
so that I might discover what is profitable
for people to do on earth during the few days of their lives.
Notice verse 2 speaks of “partying.” The KJV uses the terms “laughter” and “mirth” to suggest the idea of carefree partying or frivolity. In the KJV translation, Solomon essentially states that this type of behavior is madness. It is folly.
When I was a young adult passing into legal adulthood, the norm was to go to parties or bars. People would often drink until they fell down and laugh all the while. I will admit to going to some of these places with friends. I never got drunk and in fact, I rarely drank because I had never acquired a taste for alcohol. Sodas were my think. I mainly went because my friends went and it was a time when bands played live, before disco and DJs hit the scene.
But also during that time, there were so many people who lived for Friday. It’s what they would plan all week for and look forward to because it gave them the chance to get drunk and then wild. The alcohol provided the excuse for their wild behavior so that they felt exempt.
The problem of course is that these people looked like they’d been hit by a car on Monday. They would often be hung over and even though they were at work, they did little. By Tuesday, they were feeling better and were already starting to look forward to Friday and the weekend. Party time!
In the end, it’s all folly. It’s pointless and worthless. It adds nothing to a person’s stature or spirituality, and frankly, kills brain cells and destroys lives. It is therefore, counter-productive to living a quality lifestyle. Yet, this is what people were involved in then and are now. The new generation of young people do the same thing that every generation has done. They drink, smoke, party, and get wild. Why? Because at the time, it feels good but there is really a heavy price to pay. This is why Solomon says “it accomplishes nothing!” and by that he means, it accomplishes no good thing. We had best pay attention, but are we?
Verse three speaks more about indulging in wine and alcoholic drink. Solomon wonders aloud about “the effects of indulging myself with wine.” What does it accomplish? He does this while he is being guided by wisdom. He wants to know – as someone who wants to observe himself under the influence of alcohol and “behaving foolishly” – how these things are profitable to him. Are they?
Solomon’s goal is to “discover what is profitable for people to do” while they live. Is drinking wine to get drunk profitable? Is behaving foolishly profitable? There are so many things that people do today that are extremely unprofitable but at the time, seem “fun.”
I read just today where a 14-year-old boy was seriously injured during a game called “Duct Tape Challenge.” In this “game,” people submit to being taped up with duct tape. Their job is to escape the tape while being filmed. In this particular case, even though this same young man had participated in this challenge successfully previously, this particular time he was not so fortunate.
A 14-year-old Skylar Fish also suffered severe head injuries as well as a permanent harm to his left eye during his try to win the challenge. The young boy suffered a brain aneurysm after he was trying to win the challenge. He is under observation in hospital since January 16th.
Tragic, isn’t it? Behaving foolishly in this case created major injuries for a young boy who had his entire life in front of him. Now, he has been changed forever. There are television shows that highlight one stupid scenario after another by people who think that what they’re doing is “fun.” Often it turns out to be anything but fun and on more than one occasion, the results have been deadly.
I’m fairly certain we don’t have to think too hard to understand just exactly how easily and quickly things can take a downhill turn. What starts out as fun often turns out to be tragic. Solomon is correct when he says that these things – behaving foolishly and indulging in wine – are absolutely futile. They are time-wasters because they normally add nothing to our lives.
Have you seen truth in Solomon’s words and warnings yet? Are you coming to understand that the scenarios he speaks of really and truly, in the end, do nothing for us. Because of that, they are futile, utterly worthless, complete vanity.
Stop and consider whether many to most of the things we participate in (or watch others do) in this life will be done in heaven? Do you think drinking until you fall down will be part of the heavenly picture? Do you think strapping yourself into a shopping cart and careening down a steep hill will be what people do in the afterlife? Do you believe that awards shows, banks, and corporations will exist in heaven? Solomon wants you to stop and consider the brief and often pointless nature of many of these things. Certainly, some things we do in this life are a necessity (like dealing with banks and certain corporations), but we should also see these entities in view of whether or not they will exist in the next life. Adopting this view will help us understand their importance (or lack of it) in the here and now.
Is Solomon being depressing for the sake of being depressing? In fact, I would argue that he is not being depressing at all, but instead is trying to wake people up to the fact that life is worth far more than we too often consider. Too often we make the wrong decisions based on our world view. Something tells me that Solomon wants us to change our world view.
We’ll be back with more next time from King Solomon.
Entry filed under: christianity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: all is vanity, ecclesiastes, king solomon, solomon wise man, utter futility.