Thursday, April 11, 2019 -
Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes probably as his life was drawing to a close, and he had time to reflect on his brief time on earth, probably repenting after the Lord’s rebuke (I Kings 11:9-13). Much of Ecclesiastes seems to be words of regret and confession. He recognizes that what man does and one’s attitude in his service to the Lord are everything (3:12-14). That without a fear of the Lord, there is emptiness (5:7), that riches and wealth, while a blessing from God, can be a distraction (5:19-20), and will be meaningless at one’s death (chapter 6). And we all must die (3:18-20). Yet God wants man to be happy (3:22), but in his service to God (5:20, 11:9, 12:6-7, 12:13-14). He fully recognizes his weakness for women and that it was sin against God (7:26) that he loved pleasure (8:15), that his love of riches and hoarding of wealth was to his detriment and did not bring satisfaction (5:10-20), and that even his wisdom was futile (1:12-18) without a fear of God (5:7, 7:18). Solomon did all kinds of things for himself that his heart desired, but it was for naught (2:1-11).
In the end, the book of Ecclesiastes is a huge confession that life served for selfish purposes, rather than for the Lord’s purposes, is a life served in vain with no lasting purpose, and one that will be quickly forgotten. And so, the last chapter is a warning, primarily to young people, not to make the same mistakes he made. He says, “The conclusion, when all this has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
In contrast to Solomon’s regrets, we have the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3), “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6), “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Jesus even mentions Solomon and his earthly glory in Matthew 6:29, saying it could not compare to the beauty of His creation. And so we should “be anxious for nothing”, “but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-34). What a contrast!