God’s Word of Wisdom
Ecclesiastes 1:1-18: The book of Ecclesiastes represents a search for meaning in life and contains the thoughts of “the Philosopher,” identified as King Solomon, who reflected deeply on how short and contradictory human life is, with its mysterious injustices and frustrations. He could not understand the ways of God, who controls human destiny. For the next seven days, we will be reading excerpts from Ecclesiastes. Many of the Philosopher’s thoughts appear negative; and in today’s reading, the Philosopher describes life as useless.
Life Is Useless
1These are the words of the Philosopher, David’s son, who was king in Jerusalem.
2It is useless, useless, said the Philosopher. Life is useless, all useless. 3You spend your life working, laboring, and what do you have to show for it? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the world stays just the same. 5The sun still rises, and it still goes down, going wearily back to where it must start all over again. 6The wind blows south, the wind blows north—round and round and back again. 7Every river flows into the sea, but the sea is not yet full. The water returns to where the rivers began, and starts all over again. 8Everything leads to weariness—a weariness too great for words. Our eyes can never see enough to be satisfied; our ears can never hear enough. 9What has happened before will happen again. What has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new in the whole world. 10“Look,” they say, “here is something new!” But no, it has all happened before, long before we were born. 11No one remembers what has happened in the past, and no one in days to come will remember what happens between now and then.
The Philosopher’s Experience
12I, the Philosopher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13I determined that I would examine and study all the things that are done in this world.
God has laid a miserable fate upon us. 14I have seen everything done in this world, and I tell you, it is all useless. It is like chasing the wind. 15You can’t straighten out what is crooked; you can’t count things that aren’t there.
16 I told myself, “I have become a great man, far wiser than anyone who ruled Jerusalem before me. I know what wisdom and knowledge really are.” 17I was determined to learn the difference between knowledge and foolishness, wisdom and madness. But I found out that I might as well be chasing the wind. 18The wiser you are, the more worries you have; the more you know, the more it hurts.
Today’s Key Verse: Ecclesiastes 1:9
What has happened before will happen again. What has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new in the whole world.
Based on today’s reading, how would you describe the author? Why does the Philosopher describe life as useless? How does your outlook on life compare with that of the Philosopher? Do you agree or disagree with the Philosopher? Why? Reread verse 18. What do you think of this view?
Sovereign God, you are my source of life, and you are in control of my life. Help me each day to trust in your steadfast love and care, and guide my thoughts and actions this day. Amen.
Ecclesiastes 2:1-26: The Philosopher searches for happiness.