Study Reference Ecclesiastes Chapter One
Most like everyone else, when the name of Solomon is aired, the human mind takes a whirlwind ride through the individual’s ranks of fantasy. I am intrigued by the life of King Solomon, but for some dark and uncommon reasons. For the most part, people seem to be drawn to the life and style of Solomon because of his wealth, his grandeur, or his wisdom of life. To this very day Solomon is celebrated among all peoples and nations. Solomon is seen as powerful, mysterious, and precocious. As we will begin to study Solomon, we will soon discover the inner workings of a well meaning but troubled young man with a lot of time on his hands. We might find attempting to walk in his father’s footsteps was part of his undoing. Solomon’s life has intrigued more people than myself. Many have written volumes on him and many have I read but, for the most part, seem to be eluded by Solomon’s seemly wealth and vivaciousness. Apart from the blessings of Almighty God, it seems Solomon’s amiability led a life of boyish desires coupled with a young man’s virility.
“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Ecclesiastes 1:1
At the beginning of the first chapter, Solomon directs his readers to the authority given to him from God. The words of the title of Preacher have a spiritual connotation of gravity and driven concern for the welfare of others. Solomon has aspired himself to be a preacher, but why? It seems when one becomes incapacitated with insult and injury one begins to convey to others around to please listen to reason. In part this seems to be the motive because of the terrible price to be paid by ignoring the facts and the number one rule of the universe, “what goes around comes around”.
“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
It is disconcerting that with this authority he begins with a note of pessimisms, despair, concluding with the bizarre negative equation, “All is vanity”. The real question is why? What happened to this aspiring young King to turn him to ponder the dark side of life? Let’s face the truth, Solomon had it made beyond compare. He was the ‘golden boy’ of all Israel. His father, King David, had set the stage of life for his beloved son. All Solomon had to do was but follow thru to be successful with God and man. This all is recorded in the Book of I Kings beginning with chapter one and verse 28.
By the end of his life Solomon had all the wealth a man could muster in his life. We have all heard of the notorious mines that produced untold wealth. Over a period of time Solomon had all the beautiful women a man could gather in order to keep the alliances of close neighbors and a territory to rule that God himself handed to him on a silver platter. Let’s face it; Solomon didn’t draw a sword for forty years. Wow, that in itself is amazing! It seems that America cannot go without some kind of war scenario for more than ten years at a time. But something seriously had backfired in Solomon’s life.
“What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?”
Solomon began writing with serious doubt of his own existence. What’s the use he exclaimed! It is a waste of time and energy he continues to bog himself down with self pity and a sense of unworthiness. But why is this? Why is he so discouraged and bitter about life?
“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. Ecclesiastes 1:4-11
To give further reasons to be discouraged with his life, Solomon goes into detail about how the inner workings of the cycles of the earth are compared to a man’s life. Yes, there is no doubt Solomon obtains carnal wisdom of the workings of science, math, and astrology, but there are places that those things tend to be left behind. I feel if one would look a little closer at Solomon, the consensus would conclude that Solomon had obtained a worldly or carnal edification of matters instead of spiritual insight. This is evident by just looking at Solomon’s achievements. Solomon seemly had focused on the temporal, while in contrast; his father David had acquired a Godly fear and reverence for matters of spiritual content. David’s reverential fear of God came by hardship and dry seasons of the soul without answers that could only come from the Creator himself. This seems to be the line drawn in the sand, the point of departure between Solomon and his father. With this writing, Solomon was expressing a season of spiritual drought that had crept upon him that was beginning to takes its toll.
After a while and given a little time, Solomon exclaims that even a man can be predictable as the seasons! To a certain degree, and given the license, mankind is predictable but, this can all be changed with the proper instruction from a higher and more reliable source than what we have here on earth. God encourages all of us to obtain wisdom and the only way to do this is to fear God in the very beginning. There are those who never experience the fear of God in their lives, but blessed are those who have! Maybe this is what Solomon is lacking in his life? As we read and discover for ourselves, Solomon does not possess the fear of God that his father had concluded with as King David exclaimed in the Psalms.
“I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. Ecclesiastes 1:12-16
In these next verses we can see what Solomon has attested to be fact by discovering the calculation of toil and labor with disciplined observance. Solomon claims to have obtained wisdom but complains of complications adjoining the conclusion of matters. He seems to give into exhaustion by admitting there is no sound reason to continue on. How can a man of his stature become so anesthetized and claim to have wisdom that cannot see beyond dismal circumstances? One would think with Solomon’s unfathomable resources that much could be accomplished resulting in a resounding joy of accomplishments. While the nation of Israel reveled in their King’s deeds, Solomon on the other hand neglected to celebrate along with them as having accomplished something of grandeur together. Sure, the country as a whole celebrated the building of the Temple as a national accomplishment. But, I feel Solomon didn’t share his father’s dream about his father’s personal goals being accomplished by the Golden Boy. This is the deluge that was flooding uncontrollably in Solomon’s mind. I perceive that after the fact of the Temple’s completion, Solomon began to waiver and flounder with no other direction but from his pagan wives with the insatiable whims of their pagan gods.
“And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:17-18
At this juncture, I perceive Solomon divulges the secret of his demise. He admits offhandedly, he made an irresponsible decision. He takes the wrong turn at the juncture of wisdom and madness, hand in hand with folly. Those are two roads, separate and different roads to travel. To leave wisdom is to follow madness and folly, but it is impossible to travel the two together. He was precise about one thing; it is vexation of spirit to depart from wisdom to experience folly. On the other hand, to leave the road of folly and place one upon the road of wisdom is to experience sheer joy and exuberant delight, the path of righteousness. From a man of considerable stature, Solomon mixed a lethal concoction of strong drink, foolishness, and a burlesque attitude towards the complex matters of state. When he gave himself to strong drink mixed with matters only to be attended by sobriety and wisdom, the tragic train wreck resulted in Solomon’s mind and heart. Thus, the summation of futility and foolhardiness to proceed any further was the only conclusion to be announced.
I have come to a conclusion of my own choosing that Solomon was writing without consideration of the magnitude and majesty of Almighty God. It seems to me if Solomon had ever once realized how great God really is and how small man is, this writing would have never taken place to begin with. Solomon was overwhelmed because he had unconsciously placed himself on the same plateau as God. Wealth and prosperity possesses the tendency to intoxicate a man past the point of self sufficiency. Yes, he was a great man beyond compare, but, nevertheless, Solomon was just a man, a natural man wallowing in self pity. No doubt, now it is foreseeable to understand Solomon had blinders on to prevent him from seeing the whole picture, the big picture that includes one being able to understand Almighty God, Jehovah, is the most important being in the universe. It would pay us well to take note that anything that takes our eyes off or away from God, His Son, Jesus, and His magnificence, has in itself become the curse that leads to our very demise. Therefore, Solomon became intoxicated with unnerving license and maneuverability, but completely unable to control his fear of disappointing his constituants, further accompanied by the pressures of too many wives and their false gods. Little did Solomon realize, that the wisdom that he attained wasn’t the same as what God endues to a man or woman with the precept of reverence and fear. Yes, God did answer his prayer to be able to know right from wrong, but that prayer fell short without Solomon obtaining the fear of the LORD that accompanies wisdom. This is the ingredient that makes wisdom so precious and sought after by mortal man. In short, what wisdom Solomon attained was perverted with whims of fleshly desires and thereby squandered by a foolish young man.