Yesterday, we saw Solomon’s qualifications for persuing his quest. Today, we’ll consider how he went about completing that quest.
Ecc 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Ecc 8:9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.
Ecc 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
How did Solomon pursue his goal? He did it the same way many people in our day do – by experience and contemplation. Solomon experienced everything life had to offer. He didn’t just try to think through it, he lived it, pondered it and recorded his observations. You can see the experiential nature of his question in phrases like:
- Under the sun (29 x)
- I saw / I have seen / have I seen / I beheld (16 x)
- I made / I got / I gat / I gathered (6 x)
What Solomon doesn’t mention is almost as telling as what he does mention. Here are some missing ingredients in his search for meaning:
- He doesn’t quote scripture. Solomon had at least the first five books of the Bible. In fact, he was required by law to write out a copy of it (Deu. 17:18-20). Even so, he never mentions anything that God says about the questions he is contemplating. H
- Solomon doesn’t mention the writings of other wise men, not even his father, David.
- Solomon didn’t discuss his observations and conclusions with others. He simply communed with his own heart (1:16). It’s all first hand, personal experience and observation. (The word used most often in Ecclesiastes is “I,” which appears 87 times.)
Solomon collected data and drew conclusions without counsel, or insight from God. His findings are, therefore, limited, as any person’s research would be. As a result, some of his observations and conclusions are wrong. (The Bible accurately records his incorrect conclusions.) In this sense, Ecclesiastes is like the book of Job. (See Job 42:7)
We are going to compare his findings with the rest of the Bible to determine where his observations are right, and where they are wrong.
What About You?
- Are you leaning on your own understand as you search for meaning in life?
- Do you seek to make sense of life from wise counsel and God’s Word?