Scripture reading – Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2

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An Invitation

If you have enjoyed my daily Bible studies from www.HeartofAShepherd.com, I hope you will invite others to join you in the New Year. Featured in 2024 will be Bible devotions from the Major Prophets (Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah) and the Minor Prophets. I am especially looking forward to our study of the New Testament. Of course, 2024 will conclude with a study of the Book of Revelations. Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the Book of Ecclesiastes. This is the first of two daily devotions for today.

Ecclesiastes 1 – Vanity of Vanities

 

Unlike the Book of Proverbs, which challenged us with couplets of wisdom written and was written by Solomon as a father, the Book of Ecclesiastes was penned by the king in the latter years of his life. With his youth far spent and the frailty of old age his daily haunt, Solomon’s outlook on life had turned to regret. In the opening verse of Ecclesiastes, Solomon introduced himself as “the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 1:1). He then wrote a phrase that is sadly the theme of this book:

 

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

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

Consider with me three principles found in Ecclesiastes 1.

 

Your perspective on life affects your contentment in life. (Ecclesiastes 1:3-9)

Solomon came to understand that a life that fails to pursue God’s will and purpose will inevitably become full of labor and without meaning (Ecclesiastes 1:3). Time marches on, and one generation passes, and another comes (Ecclesiastes 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” (Ecclesiastes 1:4-9).

It’s not your chronological age but your spiritual perspective that dictates your outlook on life. (Ecclesiastes 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” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

Living in the past will rob you of your joy and passion for life. (Ecclesiastes 1:15-18)

Solomon was looking back on life and all he had achieved (Ecclesiastes 1:16). In this, he concluded his pursuit of worldly knowledge and pleasure (i.e., “madness and folly”) had only increased his sorrows (Ecclesiastes 1:18).

Closing thoughts –

 

What happened to Solomon, a man with everything but whose life became so 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).

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

 

* This concludes the first of two daily Bible studies for Friday, December 8, 2023.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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