“I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And, I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under Heaven—this sore travail has God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun—and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. . .Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments—for this is the whole duty of man.”
Ecclesiastes 1:12-14; 12:13
Looking at things from God’s Perspective will keep our lives in balance; however, failure to do so will lead to emptiness, skepticism and despair.
The Hebrew title “Qoheleth” is a rare term in the Old Testament, found only in Eccl. 1:1, 2, 12; 7:27; 12:8-10, and comes from the word “qahal,” which means “to call an assembly, to assemble;” thus, it means “one who convenes or addresses an assembly, a preacher, etc.” And, even though Solomon was a king, not a preacher or prophet, he evidently felt the need to describe himself as such in this intriguing book.
Needless to say, the majority of what he has to say is downright pessimistic and depressing. Over and over again he talks about the vanity of this-and-that, which produces “vexation (Heb. ‘re ‘uwth’—‘a feeding upon, grasping after, tend a flock, put out to pasture, graze on, rule over, etc.’) of spirit” (1:14, 17; 2:11, 17, 22, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9). And, again, it’s clear from the tone and tenor of Solomon’s words that his mind and heart are feeding on foolishness, futility and folly.
But, we shouldn’t be surprised as such.
In his Proverbs, he wrote “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (23:7). Or, your “focus”—what your mind’s feeding on—will determine your feelings. And, in Solomon’s case, they weren’t too good: “That which is crooked can’t be made straight” (Eccl. 1:15a). . . “I said of laughter, ‘It is mad—and of mirth, What does it?’ (2:2). . . “As happens to the fool, so it happens to me. . .And how dies the wise man? As a fool” (2:15a, 16b). . . “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” (2:17).
Pretty inspiring stuff, isn’t it?
Not on your life.
No, he was depressed and wondering “What’s the use?” But, we shouldn’t be too hard on him—for his father had felt that way in his own life (Ps. 22:1; 142:4) and so had Elijah (I Kings 19:1-4). And, if the truth be known, we all grapple with this from time-to-time.
But, oh, dear Pilgrim, that’s why we must live by faith, not feelings. Feelings fluctuate according to what’s happening around and in us; but faith—true “pleasing” or “saving” faith (Heb. 11:6)—is rooted in Who God in and what He has done/promised. That’s why we must “lift our eyes higher than the hills from whence comes our help” (Ps. 121:1-2). We must “look and keep on looking unto Jesus, the Author AND Finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2a). Only then will we have “Hope as a sure-and-steadfast Anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:18-19). And, only then will we keep from joining Solomon in the doldrums and depths of depression.
July 11, 2011