Ecclesiastes 1:3-8 [29:56]
Ecclesiastes 1:3, The phrase “under the sun” appears 27 times and suggests that Solomon was making his case for despair based only on evidence from the natural world. As the outline suggests, Solomon dealt with the problem of life’s apparent meaninglessness in four stages: He stated his “belief” that life is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11).
He offered evidence for that belief, showing how his and other people’s efforts to find meaning in life yielded only despair (Ecclesiastes 1:12-6:12). He offered advice about how to cope with a meaningless world (Ecclesiastes 7:1-12:8). Having hinted at his own belief in God, he concluded by stating that meaning can be found through faith in and obedience to God (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14).
Ecclesiastes appears to be the work of a Solomon made older and wiser by the unforeseeable misfortunes of life and by his own serious mistakes in spite of his great wisdom. The word rendered “profit” or “gain” (yitron) is found only in this book, where it occurs frequently. It means “that which remains over”. Man is Adam, is the natural man, not enlightened by God’s Word and election by the grace of God. While the Hebrew word “ish” is man moved by grace. “Under the Sun” is an expressions that the Rabbi’s understood was a description of life in this world. It only appears in this book in the Older Covenant. It’s sister phrase “under heaven” is used 3 times.
Both terms speak of Solomon’s perspective on life. He continually speaks of the uncertainty, injustice, futility, and uniformity of life, as well as the finality of death. God in heaven does His will and it will not change and knows what we cannot begin to comprehend. Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 express Solomon’s observations of the vanity or futility of life which demonstrates, 1) our human inability to understand life’s mysteries, and 2) our inability to change what we see that needs changing.
Ecclesiastes 1:4-6 When you don’t know the purpose of life, life can be an endless cycle of futility. In these verses Solomon says such things as, “generations come and generations go… “The sun rises and the sun sets and returns back to where it rises,” and “”the wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes…” So life becomes like a merry-go-round – going round and round, yet never getting anywhere.
And Solomon gives this result in Ecclesiastes 1:8, “the eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.” We always want more. We have gone from 10” black and white picture tubes to HD giant screens with full color, stereophonic surround sound and even now 3D. But we’re still not happy because the things of life don’t really satisfy unless you have a purpose for living. When you don’t know its purpose, life itself will seem insignificant. See Ecclesiastes 1:11
Tony Campolo said, “if you ever start to feel proud, just remember that soon after your body has been lowered into the grave, your family and friends will be eating potato salad and telling jokes, and you’ll be history.” Pretty depressing, isn’t it? Solomon describes a life that without God is empty, meaningless, futile, insignificant, and out of control.
Ecclesiastes 1:7 – Solomon described in this verse the “water cycle” that sustains life on our planet. Scientists tell us that 97 percent of all the water on earth is in the oceans; and only.0001 percent is in the atmosphere, available for rain, the equivalent of 10 days of rain. The balance of creation with the sun and wind makes possible the evaporation and movement of moisture, and this keeps the water “circulating.”
But the sea never changes. The balance is maintained, but this too is a source of frustration to Solomon in that even though there is this balance nothing changes. Solomon sees this as the monotony of life and supports his argument that life is not worth living. All of this is true only if you look at life “under the sun” and leave God out of the picture. If you look at life as a closed system his appraisal is correct but when you place God in the equation life then does have meaning and unpredictability. Prayers are answered (as in Joshua prayer in Joshua 10:12-13) and in answer to Hezekiah’s prayer (Isaiah 38:1-8) just to name two examples among scores. When we come to faith through Yeshua our eyes are opened to a God who is there and He is not silent and not removed. Life then has meaning, purpose, and we begin to align our will to the Father’s will and become a part of His work of redemption.
Ecclesiastes 1:8 – But without that faith in a God who opens up the closed universe of man’s natural observation the conclusion is just what Solomon utters here in this verse all things are wearisome. We become like the Athenians that Paul addressed in Acts 17:21 who spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas. Man becomes the center of the universe and the result is that he will come up with all kinds of vain ideas that ultimately lead to destruction.