Living a Purposeful Life (Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2)

Scripture reading – Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2

* The following is the second of a two-part devotion taken from today’s scheduled Scripture reading.

Ecclesiastes 2 – Some Things Have Not Changed

I suggest that Ecclesiastes 2 gives us a window into the soul of a backslidden, spiritually destitute man. Like the narcissistic culture we live in today, Solomon’s focus was upon himself. Forty-one times in the first ten verses of chapter 2, Solomon employs the personal pronouns “I…mine…myself” (2:1-10). Unless we consciously avoid it, we are all guilty of the same. In a vain attempt to find happiness, Solomon turned to wine in an attempt to dull his despair and emptiness (2:3). He played the fool with “the sons of men” (2:3), yet, accomplished feats in architecture, and agriculture (2:4-6). He amassed a great fortune, had “servants and maidens” to do his bidding (2:7), and musicians to entertain him (2:8). He was greater and wealthier than all who had gone before him (2:9), and there was nothing he did not afford himself for pleasure (2:10). Yet, there was no lasting joy, no satisfaction, for “there was no profit under the sun” (2:11).

The Wise and the Foolish (2:12-16)

In his lifetime, Solomon exercised two perspectives on life. When he was young, he had been dependent on God, and was tender and humble before Him. As an older man he amassed all that he could ever desire, he lived independent of God, and became spiritually destitute.

Every man faces similar choices in life. He can embrace worldly philosophies, gain wealth, and pursue temporal pleasures, but eventually find himself depressed and spiritually destitute.  Like the rich man in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 12, some men say to themselves, “take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19), but find in the end they are fools, and spiritual paupers in the sight of the LORD (Luke 12:18-21). You too, can choose to be wise, turn to God, and seek wisdom and direction in His Word.

Sadly, for a portion of his life, Solomon chose the way of the fool, and walked in darkness (2:14). In his words, “As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity” (2:15).

There is another perspective by which we are also challenged: If we seek peace and satisfaction apart from God, we will never be satisfied! (2:16-19) All eventually die; the fool and the wise man leave this world and take nothing (2:16).  Many aspire to wealth, and possessions, only to come to the end of life and realize: “18Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me” (2:18). Solomon goes on to observe, as with all men, he would have no influence over those who would follow him as king; whether they be wise or foolish (2:19).  One generation labors and sacrifices, and the next generation will reap what they have not sown (2:20-21).

Closing thoughts – A life lived apart from God, and in contradiction to His Law, shall never be satisfied!  No pleasures can mask the sadness, nor riches satisfy the void of a sinner’s heart apart from the LORD.  Solomon writes,

Eccles. 2:26 – “For God giveth to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner He giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that He may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

If your perspective on life is seeking peace and joy apart from God, you will never be satisfied.

* This concludes the second of two devotionals for today. * You are invited to subscribe to Pastor Smith’s daily devotionals in the box to the right of this devotion, and have future devotionals sent to your email address.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith