Ecclesiastes 1 Commentary: First of all, let’s discover what the message of the book of Ecclesiastes is. What is the book about in a nutshell?
Everything is Meaningless
Let’s look at what the text says. How’s this for a cheery optimistic start in Ecclesiastes 1:2? Vanity of vanities! Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.
Yes. Breath. Meaningless. Insubstantial. Futile. Frustrating. Unending. Dull. Monotonous. Maddening.
But – wait – ALL is vanity or meaningless or futile? Well, that’s what Qoheleth says. And he would know.
So, let that sink in. Everything is futile. That’s the assertion that God breathed out through Qoheleth for you and me to receive and believe.
It’s All Meaningless… “Under the Sun”
But now that you have completely accepted this fact without reservation – that everything is futile – let’s notice one important caveat that Qoheleth himself makes.
Alright – everything is futile – where? Ecclesiastes 1:3 – What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh … under the sun?
And this is our major clue to interpreting this book correctly. Some people look at the book of Ecclesiastes and think that it’s just the work of a cynic.
In fact, one Old Testament scholar that has earned a reputation of respect in the believing community (Tremper Longman) thinks that all of this book – except the first few verses and last few verses – is the writing of a cynic who’s just utterly jaded with life and he’s basically a wisdom teacher gone rogue. And – according to Longman – the first and last few verses are a warning to not really take all of what the guy says to heart.
I don’t believe that’s how we ought to read this book.
Qoheleth is not unreasonably cynical. Yes, he says that all things ultimately are futile – but really only as those things are done under the sun.
The Meaning of “Under the Sun”
And that phrase is the major phrase to take note of in this book. If you miss this, you miss everything in the book of Ecclesiastes and it will remain an impossible enigma for you forever.
When Qoheleth talks of things under the sun he’s speaking of a life lived with merely human values in mind. He’s talking about a worldly or earthly mindset, a mindset that is limited to what one can see and hear and taste and touch and smell, a mindset that’s devoid of thoughts of heaven, that doesn’t value heavenly realities.
A person who lives only in the realm under the sun is one who is living for merely the here and now. God is not in the picture in his life.
There’s More Than “Under the Sun”
And many of the passages in the book of Ecclesiastes mention life lived merely under the sun without considering spiritual realities. But that’s not all we have in this book.
In this book we also have Qoheleth giving an alternative approach to life. It’s not that living life with no consideration of God is the only way. No, there’s a better way to view life – one that takes into full consideration God and his desires for your life.
That’s why Qoheleth can say at the end of the book that the main duty of man after all is said in this book is to fear God and keep his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). But that emphasis is not only at the end of the book. You see this God-focused view throughout the book.
We’ll see those passages throughout our study of the book of Ecclesiastes.
Now, as we see in Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 the author of this book is “the Preacher”.
In Hebrew, the word is Koheleth. That word refers to gathering people together – like a preacher would do. And that concept of gathering people is translated into Greek as Ecclesiastes, from which we get the name of this book.
When we speak of Ecclesiastes or Kohelet or the Preacher, we’re speaking of the same person. So, we have a preacher, a gatherer of men, as the author of this book.
Who is the Preacher?
But that doesn’t help us much in terms of getting the true identity of this author. We know what he does. But who is this man?
So, note from Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 that the author is also a son of David, king in Jerusalem.
He’s portraying himself as the Davidic king in Jerusalem. And if you add that bit of information to the location of this book in our Bibles, you might get the idea that the author is Solomon.
What do I mean about the location of the book? Well, let me ask, what book immediately precedes this one? Proverbs. Who wrote Proverbs? Solomon did. That’s the claim in Proverbs 1:1-5.
OK, now, what book comes after the book of Eccelesiastes? Song of whom? Song of Solomon.
So, the book of Ecclesiastes is nestled in the midst of two other books written by Solomon. Maybe Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes.
Then we have the statement that this author is the Davidic king – and you can see why we might have some warrant in thinking that Solomon wrote the book.
Against Solomon as the Author
Now, some do argue against Solomonic authorship. They don’t think Solomon is the author. Here are their reasons.
They would say that the narrator speaks a little too negatively about kings. And if he’s a king, he wouldn’t speak that way about himself and others who are in his position.
There’s also a place in Ecclesiastes where Koheleth speaks of those who reigned before him in Jerusalem. And if that were Solomon, then how many people were ruling in Jerusalem before him? David, his father. Maybe it could be speaking of Saul. But, that’s it. And so, that’s used as another reason to question whether Solomon wrote this book.
And, here’s my take on it.
Solomon Wrote Ecclesiastes
I think there isn’t enough evidence to say that Solomon didn’t write this book. And so I would tend to think that Solomon did indeed write Ecclesiastes and that he’s the Koheleth in this book.
Solomon Doesn’t Want You To Think He Wrote Ecclesiastes
But at the same time, I’d also encourage us to not make too much of Solomon’s authorship of this book. Here’s why.
Solomon didn’t put his name on this book. He could have. He does it with the Song of Solomon. He does it with the book of Proverbs. He doesn’t do it with Ecclesiastes.
What to Think of Solomon Writing Ecclesiastes
And here’s what I think we should do with that information.
Don’t really try to fit the things written in the book of Ecclesiastes into Solomon’s life. There are some who strain to match up things said in Ecclesiastes with what we have recorded of Solomon’s life. Don’t do that.
This is what led the old Jewish commentators to postulate that Solomon wrote this book at the end of his life. But – you say – Solomon went away from the Lord at the end of his life because of all his foreign wives. That’s true. And that’s why the Jewish commentators of old made up this story where Solomon actually turned back to the Lord after his apostasy and then wrote this book.
Now, is that story romantic and encouraging and exciting? Yes.
It is biblical? No.
Should we try to conjure up some similar story to fit Ecclesiastes into the timeline of Solomon’s life? No. At least, I’m not going to.
So, while I don’t deny that Solomon was likely the author of this book, I imagine I won’t be making any attempt to bring him up in any of our lessons.
But here’s what I will do. I will assume that Solomon is writing this book but not wanting us to think of him as we read it.
So, when this Koheleth says that he was the king, I’ll believe him and teach accordingly.
When he says that he had the finances and power to build all sorts of public works and to have all sorts of wives and concubines like a king would – I’m going to believe him and teach likewise.
This narrator wants us to believe that he’s a Jewish king with unlimited resources. And therefore we’re going to take him at his word.
At the same time, he doesn’t come right out and say that he’s Solomon. So I’m not going to make any sort of effort to force that idea onto his book.
Basically we’re just going to consider this book to be written by a nameless and unidentified Jewish king. And I’m going to use his Hebrew name – Koheleth.
Now that we know the author of Ecclesiates, we’ll start where the book of Ecclesiastes starts – with a view of the meaningless cycle of life lived merely under the sun. What is life like for a man or woman who views this physical world as all there is? That’s Ecclesiastes 1:4-11.
So, when we pick up and start reading this book, we’re immediately directed to the never-ending cycles of life on this earth.
In Ecclesiastes 1:4, the earth is said to remain fixed and steady. It doesn’t change. It doesn’t pass away. But humans do. One generation of men and women pass off the scene by death. And another generation enters the scene of this life. Year after year, and decade after decade, and century after century, and millenium after millenium this happens.
The people who inhabit the city of Whitewater (where my church is located) will not be around in another 100 years or so. They will pass off the scene. And there will be a new group to take their place. It’s as if it didn’t even matter that this current generation existed. Who’s going to remember all the people that dwell in that city just one century from today? Probably no one. How futile!
And – really – how shocking! Man under the sun is so focused on himself and his life and his activities. And yet, it’s as if the earth just watches every single generation like that — that’s just so full of itself and has such an elevated sense of its own importance. And the earth just sees them come and sees them go and then sees another come and another go and on and on. It seems like there’s nothing substantial or permanent or meaningful to human life. How futile.
And it’s not just generations of men that come and go endlessly. The sun does something similar in Ecclesiastes 1:5.
Study Psalm 19 some time. It’s in that psalm that the sun is used to assist us in marveling at God’s creation and what God communicates to us through that creation. In fact, the sun – we learn in Psalm 19 – is actually intended to demonstrate to us that we can’t hide from God’s communication through nature.
And yet, here we are now in Ecclesiastes 1 and the sun is communicating something different. It rises, goes down, and rises again. It’s just like the monotonous changing of generations. In fact, the word translated “goeth down” in the King James is the same word in Ecclesiastes 1:4 as “cometh” – speaking of the entering of a new generation. There’s a cyclical pattern to the sun.
And we can all be very happy that the sun keeps coming back day after day. But the idea is – there’s no progress. It’s an endless cycle. It’s not as if the sun makes new advances every day and achieves more and more. No – the sun does the same exact thing day after day after day. It’s an endless meaningless cycle.
And, in addition to the never-ending pattern of generations of men and the sun itself, we also need to consider the wind in Ecclesiastes 1:6.
The same word used of the generation that passes away into obscurity is used of the wind. The wind, too, just kind of blows around. “Turning” is a big emphasis in this verse. The wind turns. It whirls about. It returns in its circuits. Again, the idea is that there’s no progress. There’s no advancement. Ultimately, nothing changes. It’s not as if the wind accomplishes anything new or gains new heights. It’s basically twirling in a circle and has been from before any living human can remember.
And you might say – “that doesn’t bother me. I don’t care that the various generations of humanity and the sun and the wind don’t make any real progress or ultimately achieve anything.” And to that I say – then you aren’t thinking as deeply as Qoheleth is! You’re not following him in his thinking. He wants you to be bothered by this. God himself wants you to be uncomfortable and a little frustrated by these facts that are evident all around you.
If you don’t see anything disturbing about the realities presented so far, just stay with Qoheleth’s way of thinking. Try to follow. You’ll know that you’ve come to terms with the author of this book when these realities he keeps mentioning start to bother you.
So, from generations to the sun to the wind, Qoheleth turns to consider what even we refer to as our water “cycle” in Ecclesiastes 1:7.
Again, the Hebrew word used of generations passing away and the wind circling around is used now of the rivers running into the sea.
And you know what this is like. If you put your boat into – say the Rock River – eventually you can make it into the Mississippi River. And from there, you’d make it into the Gulf of Mexico. And from there, you could paddle out into the Atlantic Ocean. And yet, it’s not as if all those waters that contribute to the ocean – as if they start overflowing the ocean. No. Water is evaporated from the ocean to form clouds which are blown by the circling wind which then eventually lets down rain – sometimes at the exact locations from where those rivers start.
It’s interesting to think that a drop of water might flow from your drive way to the sewer to a river to the ocean – and then come right back in a cloud and be dropped right back into your driveway – only to have that exact same process repeat over and over and over again.
And yet, for all that activity, you really can’t tell that anything is happening by simply looking at the ocean. It’s not as if the ocean makes any progress or achieves anything. It’s not as if it can meet some preset capacity and when it reaches that point just say – “OK, I’m done. I’ve reached my goal! I’ve achieved something.” No, it’s an endless cycle. It’s repetitious. It’s monotonous. It’s vanity.
And, just like the ocean never gets to experience true satisfaction and fulfillment – a sense of real accomplishment or fullness – so too are we humans. It’s not just nature that experiences this endless apparently irrelevant cycle. Man does, too according to Ecclesiastes 1:8.
All things are full of labour. Or – all things or words are wearisome. Even to speak of these things – the apparent emptiness and futility of life under the sun – is a wearying burden.
Do you feel that way yet? No? OK, then let’s continue on and we’ll be given more and more reasons to feel this way.
Now, we spoke of some of the wearying facts of life from the perspective of nature. The sun. The wind. The rivers. But now let’s consider mankind’s existence.
To begin with, there’s no real and ultimate satisfaction in this life under the sun lived without a consciousness of God and spiritual realities.
Let me ask – what does your eye do? Does your eye taste? Does it smell? Does it touch? Well, it can touch, but that’s not its primary function. No, the eye sees.
And yet, the only thing that the eye is made to do, doesn’t satisfy it.
Have you ever noticed that? You can look at – let’s say – a really fine-looking house. And you can look at it every day as you pass by that nice area of town. Does that satisfy you? No.
You can have your eye on a top-of-the-line luxury car. And you can eye it up every day you pass by that dealership. But does that satisfy? No.
And those two considerations have to do with coveting something, which is immoral. But let’s direct our minds to something not so suspect.
Have you ever seen something that’s just so beautiful that you want to just keep it? It’s hard to explain, but you know what it’s like to experience some beautiful moment – a sunset or a picturesque day on the lake or a walk in a park. And sometimes you can just want to take it in – in some permanent way. And maybe if you can do that, it would satisfy your eyes. But it ends. And you’re left ultimately unsatisfied.
And that’s not an issue for the eye only. There are similar dynamics with the ear. Now, do you remember earlier in this chapter where we were told how the rivers keep pouring into the ocean and yet the ocean is never full? That’s the same word we have here for the ear.
Words and music and all sorts of sounds enter the ear. The ear’s main job is to hear. Actually, that’s all it can do. And yet, even though the ear takes in all sorts of noises, yet, it’s never full. It’s never satisfied.
So, man’s senses are insatiable. Nothing under the sun ultimately satisfies them.
Now, Qoheleth continues exposing the vanity of life’s meaningless cycles in Ecclesiastes 1:9. In other words, “What has been… is what currently is… and what has been done… is what is currently done.” What existed a long time ago is what exists now. And what people did a long time ago is what they do now.
The earth and heavens existed from the Creation Week. They still do. The rivers and trees and creatures that exist now existed back then. The stars and asteroids and comets and planets that exist now – they existed back then. It’s not as if there’s anything new under the sun. No, in fact, there is not one single thing that is new under the sun.
And it’s at this point I need to conceed that there are indeed some new gadgets that man has made. And there’s new technology. There’s new fashions. There are new modes of transportation.
Right? I mean, so-called smart phones didn’t exist in Qoheleth’s day. Neither did the internet. Cell towers didn’t exist. Space ships, microwaves, toaster ovens, refrigerators, fluorescent light bulbs, electricity for that matter, diesel engines, telephony, vaccines, pacemakers. And I could go on. None of these things existed in Qoheleth’s day. They’re all new.
So, is Qoheleth wrong?
I don’t think so. Look at some of those things we mentioned.
Cell phones are new, yes. But really, what is their essence? What do we use them for? Communication. Has communication existed since Qoheleth’s day? Of course. It’s not new. The means by which humanity communicates can be new, but the bare fact that we communicate is not.
What about pacemakers? Surely, Qoheleth’s day didn’t see those. But what are pacemakers intended to do? Extend one’s life. And so a medical device like that would fall under the category of things which physicians use to heal their patients. Did physicians exist in Qoheleth’s day? Of course. They didn’t have pacemakers, but their craft has been with us since the fall.
Even something as monstrous as modern-day abortion – do we really think this is something new? Yes, the sterile, medical environment and tools that come along with such a heinous act now are new. But could a mother get rid of an unwanted child in Qoheleth’s day? Of course. Leave him on someone’s door step. Or sacrifice him to your idols. Or whatever else.
What I’m saying is that the manifestations of certain desires and activities of mankind might be new. But those basic desires and activities are certainly not.
And that’s what Qoheleth is thinking. He’s already told us that one generation goes and another – what? Comes. Well, that would be a new generation. Is that something that’s new? Well, yes. But it’s still a generation of people. And having yet another generation of people is nothing new in this world.
And actually, Qoheleth goes on in later verses to tell us that he constructed new building projects and planted gardens and all sorts of things. Those things would have all been new in a sense – but not in the sense in which Qoheleth is speaking in Ecclesiastes 1:9. People before him had planted gardens and built buildings. There’s nothing new under the sun.
Let’s move on to Ecclesiastes 1:10.
The Preacher addresses in his mind the exuberant optimist.
I can imagine such a one saying “Come on, Qoheleth! Look! Here’s something new!”
What’s Qoheleth’s response?
“Nah, I’m afraid not, son.”
And someone listening to this might have ideas in his mind about this or that that he thinks is new. And regarding that, you need to know that Qoheleth’s not going to agree – for the reasons we already reviewed in Ecclesiastes 1:9. Every basic desire and interest of mankind has been acted out throughout the millenia of human existence. And they’re still with us today.
No Memory of Old Things
Then we get to Ecclesiastes 1:11 with the crowning vanity of this whole meaningless cycle of life under the sun. There’s no remembrance of former things.
Do you know the name of your great-great-great grandfather?
I do. His name was Henry. And that’s one of the only things I know about him. He was a farmer. He came from Ireland in the early 1800s. He was a Roman Catholic man. His family for a few years lived in Erin, WI near Holy Hill in the Hartford area. He moved to Minnesota in the mid- to late-1800s. He passed away in Minnesota in the late 1800s. He owned some land. He had a number of children… And that’s all I know about him. This man, Henry Weir Sr. lived a long time. Maybe 7 decades or a bit more. He woke up every day and did a number of things and at the end of the day he went to sleep. He woke up the next day and did more stuff and then slept. And on and on. He must have done a lot of things in his life. And yet, I know only a handful of the things he did.
And who was his father? I have no idea. And I know what I know about Henry Sr. because I’ve spent multiple hours researching him using the only documents I can find on him.
The point is – I’ve actually tried to know this man and I can’t do much beyond what I’ve already done. The former things aren’t remembered.
And you know what? You and I are going to be like that, too. Do you think that your great-great-great grandchild will know anything about you? Will he even know your name? Will he know what you did?
There’s a good likelihood that no one will know anything about us in 200 years. And that’s not because each of us is just particularly uninteresting. It’s just the fact of the matter. You and I will be forgotten. That’s what it says here – people who come after us won’t remember – not just us – but even our children and grandchildren.
And it’s not just people that are not and will not be remembered. It’s everything.
Its animals. Do you know what animals existed before the flood? Maybe some – especially those laid down in the fossil record – but certainly not all.
Do you know how war was waged in ancient times? We have some clues – again with things written in stone or whatever that’s lasted. But ultimately, so much of ancient history is shrouded in mystery to us.
And it’ll be just like that for people centuries from now who are trying to understand what the United States of America was like.
Or maybe in the future there will be schools in which ancient languages are taught and one of those languages will be English. And they’ll be pretty much guessing at the pronunciation of the vowels and diphthongs because by that point no one will speak it. The language that you all know – maybe the only language most of us know – it will likely be forgotten in a few hundred years or so. No one will remember it. No one will remember you.
That sounds bleak and pessimistic. It is bleak. But it’s not pessimistic. It’s realistic. It’s part of this endless and meaningless cycle of life.
Where’s the significance? Where’s the significance for someone who lives under the sun – for someone who lives without any knowledge of God and spiritual realities?
There is no significance. There is no meaning. There’s nothing but vanity, futility, and emptiness for those men on earth who don’t know God.
And I’d like to end by speaking more about God and the realities that lift a man up from life lived merely under the sun. But I’m not going to in this post. I want to leave us like Qoheleth leaves us – feeling – not just knowing and/or acknowledging – but feeling the emptiness of life without God. Qoheleth will get to giving us a correct perspective and worldview. And even in these rather bleak and pessimistic sections, he’s getting us ready to receive that instruction which we’ll see in the next few chapters, Lord-willing.
And Now… Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:23!
But I’m afraid to say that in this section we’re in for more vanity. In fact, what we’ll see now is Dead Ends in the Journey for Satisfaction in Life.
(By the way, this is another title borrowed from Leland Ryken. Everything he has written and which I’ve read has been of great value to my understanding of the Scripture. If I perhaps don’t agree with everything I’ve read from him, I at least have been challenged in my understanding. I was even privileged to carry on a short e-mail conversation with him a few times. Anyway, just know that I’m indebted to him and that much of what I write on this site is influenced by his writings and perhaps even direct quotes, which I will endeavor to cite.)
The King Speaks
So you see Qoheleth letting you know in Ecclesiastes 1:12 that he’s putting on the hat of a king. He’s going to give you a king’s perspective on the matter under discussion.
1:12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
Seeking Meaning from Wisdom
And he starts by seeking meaning from wisdom in Ecclesiastes 1:13. What did he find? How did his wisdom work out for him?
13 And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven: it is a sore travail that God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.
Well, his wisdom led him to see the vanity of life according to Ecclesiastes 1:14. All works done under heaven – or with a merely earthly mindset – it’s all vanity and vexation of spirit.
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.
Now, let me break in here and explain something. Let’s look at this phrase “vexation of spirit” if you’re looking at the King James Version. “Vexation” has the idea of exercising or struggling or striving. The word “spirit” can also mean wind. And this is why some have translated this phrase as “striving after wind”.
Can you picture that? Striving after wind? Like striving and struggling and working so hard… just to find that your reward is … wind.
How disappointing. How unfulfilling. Why would anyone strive and struggle in order to obtain wind? That’s exactly Qoheleth’s point! No one wants to. It’s useless and worthless and frustrating.
And that’s what Qoheleth’s wisdom led him to see — that all work done for merely earthly reasons and with a mindset that leaves God out of the picture — it’s futile.
Irreversible Nature of Things
Qoheleth’s wisdom also led him to acknowledge the irreversible nature of things.
15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
He says in Ecclesiastes 1:15 that what’s made crooked can’t be straightened. I think that Qoheleth has in mind the natural world.
The massive crooked branch of a mighty oak cannot be straightened. It can be chopped down, but no one is going to straighten it out.
The crooked turns of a river will never be straightened.
Crooked jagged rocks in the wilderness of Israel will never be straightened.
And on it goes. Crookedness in many cases in nature cannot be reversed. It cannot be straightened.
Qoheleth also noticed one other irreversible trend in this life. He says in Ecclesiastes 1:15 that that which is wanting cannot be counted. This is obvious. But think about it.
If something doesn’t exist, you can’t count it. For many things in life, once it’s gone, it’s gone. This might speak to the reality of scarcity in this world. We do have renewable resources. But there are a number of non-renewable resources.
Could you imagine if that wasn’t the case? If we never ran out of anything?
But that’s not what happens in this world. And Qoheleth’s wisdom brought this to his mind – another irreversible trend in this world.
Now, in Ecclesiastes 1:16, Qoheleth kind of takes a step back and evaluates where he is with this wisdom. He communes in his own heart – and by the way, he says that a lot in this section at least. He communes in his own heart – he takes inventory inwardly. And this is what he realizes.
16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I have gotten me great wisdom above all that were before me in Jerusalem; yea, my heart hath had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
His wisdom was astounding! He had more wisdom than any who were before him in Jerusalem. At least, that’s what the King James Version reads. But that word “in” is more often translated as “over”. This would indicate that Qoheleth is stating that he – as king, like he told us earlier – he’s wiser than any who were before him OVER Jerusalem. Ruling over Jerusalem. He was wiser than any king in Jerusalem before him. He was the wisest of the wise.
Again, what that means is that either he’s wanting us to think of him as Solomon and he’s speaking of basically one person when he mentions ANY who were before him as king. Or it’s what I suspect – the author does not necessarily want to be identified with Solomon, and so he’s putting on this character of Qoheleth to make himself out to be some sort of Super-Solomon. A great-than-Solomon.
And as this Super-Solomonic figure, Qoheleth says that he has superior wisdom. We need to believe him with this one. He’s the wisest ever. No one ever anywhere excelled him in wisdom.
And armed with this wisdom he sought out to understand wisdom in Ecclesiastes 1:17 along with madness and folly. He wisely discerned what these things were like. And what did he discover?
17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also was a striving after wind.
Wisdom Leaves Us Disappointed
He found that even wisdom left him disappointed. I mean – he’s the wisest man in history. And even then, he can’t find meaning in wisdom. Here’s all he ultimately arrives at with the help of worldly wisdom. Grief and sorrow – Ecclesiastes 1:18. A man who doesn’t know God can spend his whole life pursuing being as wise and knowledgeable as possible – and what will it ultimately produce in him? Grief and sorrow.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
And you can imagine why. Look at what’s happening in this world. Current events aren’t just bad for Christians and those who fear the Lord. The policies and values being adopted by this nation right now are bad for everyone.
And turning our eyes beyond our shores, the current radical Muslim resurgence is not bad for just Christians. It’s bad for everyone – even Muslims!
I experience regular grief and sorrow over these things – and I’m not all that involved with these issues. I just read about them. Imagine having to study them in-depth for a living.
And what’s the world’s solution to all these problems? More education! Throw more money at our educational system! That’ll fix the problem. But has it? With over a century basically of people taking refuge in education – we’ve had two World Wars. We’ve seen atrocities. We’ve seen oppression. And with all this education – we still can’t seem to solve our problems.
And so in fact, the more educated you are, the more sorrow and grief you generally have. Now, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t be educated people. Get all the education you can. In fact, you know that I work for a Christian university. I believe in the benefits of education – especially from the right worldview. But I’m not deceived into thinking that more education will fix our problems. No, and especially for someone who doesn’t know God, more knowledge basically equates to more sorrow and grief.
And you can extend this principle of sorrow increasing with added knowledge to any other area of learning that one could pursue. The more you learn of any area of life under the sun, the more you’re acquainted with the grief and sorrow that attend life in this sin-cursed world.
Are any of us under the delusion that if only I was smarter – if only I knew more – then I’d be satisfied? Then life would be meaningful? Let the wisest man who ever lived counsel you that that just ain’t the case!
Well, so much for finding meaning by attaining great wisdom and knowledge. So, what else can a natural man find meaning in…?Tags: Old Testament Poetry Old Testament Wisdom