“Vanity of Vanities” (Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2)

Scripture reading – Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2

On January 1, 2021, I began writing daily Bible devotionals for www.HeartofAShepherd.com. Nearing the end of the first year of our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures; today’s Scripture reading brings us to the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 1 – Vanity of Vanities

Unlike the Book of Proverbs which challenged us with couplets of wisdom written by Solomon as a young father, the Book of Ecclesiastes was penned in the latter years of the king’s life. His youth far spent, and the frailty of the daily haunt of his old age, Solomon’s outlook on life had turned to regret. Asserting himself as “the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem (1:1), Solomon wrote:

Ecclesiastes 1:2 – “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

What happened to Solomon? He was, apart from the LORD Jesus Christ, the wisest of men. How did a man of wisdom, understanding, insight, and discernment come to look at life as empty, vain, and meaningless?

Solomon was a man of great accomplishments. He had built the Temple in Jerusalem, and the very presence of the LORD dwelled there. He had constructed a magnificent palace, built cities, and fortified the remote cities of His kingdom. Israel had prospered under his reign, and came to inhabit all the LORD promised Abraham’s heirs as their inheritance. How did Solomon come to ask, “What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?” (1:3)

Consider several principles with me that we might take from today’s Scripture reading.

The first: Your perspective on life affects your contentment in life. Solomon came to realize, a life that fails to pursue God’s will and purpose will inevitably become full of labor, and without meaning (1:3). Time marches on — one generation passes, and another comes (1:4). The sun rises, and the sun sets; the wind blows, the rivers run, and “all things are full of labour…there is no new thing under the sun” (1:4-9).

A second principle: It’s not your chronological age, but your spiritual perspective that dictates your outlook on life (1:12-14). Like a sophomore student attending college and pondering the philosophy of men apart from the revelation of God, Solomon came to conclude “I have seen all the works [of men] that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (1:14).

A third principle found in Ecclesiastes 1 is: Living in the past will rob you of both your joy, and passion for life (1:15-18). Solomon had been looking back on life and all he had achieved (1:16). In this, he concluded his pursuit of knowledge and pleasure (“madness and folly”) had only increased his sorrows (1:18).

What happened to this man who had everything, but whose life was empty?  The answer to that question is found in 1 Kings 11:3-4, where we read: “And he [Solomon] had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:3-4).

Solomon’s heart had turned from the living and true God, to worship other gods, and the sum of his life had become, “Vanity, all is vanity!”

* This concludes the first 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