Ecclesiastes 1:16-2:8

Ecclesiastes 1:16-2:8

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 – If we try like Solomon to study and seek the answers to life’s mysteries we will like Solomon wind up unfulfilled for at least two reason. First, because on this side of heaven, there are no explanations for some things that happen, and secondly, God has ordained that His people live by promises and not by explanations, by faith and not by sight (John 20:29). Solomon was better equipped than anyone and yet came to that conclusion.

Solomon’s great wisdom only added to his difficulties; for wisdom and knowledge increase sorrow and grief. There is more wisdom than Solomon ever knew found in Yeshua the Messiah: for the Queen of Sheba “came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42). Through his wisdom we move beyond futility to a true wisdom, a wisdom from above (James 3:17).  Wisdom as Yeshua revealed it was not the work of deep study, it was not written on a scroll, but experienced on a cross 1 Corinthians 1:18ff.

The more we seek knowledge and wisdom, the more ignorant we realize we are. It is interesting to consider that the root of all this frustration goes back to the Garden of Eden and Satan’s offer to Eve that, if she ate of the fruit, she would have the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:3). When Adam and Eve sinned, they did get an experiential knowledge of good and evil; but, since they were alienated from God, this knowledge only added to their sorrows. For some people, life may be monotonous and meaningless; but it doesn’t have to be.

For the person who places his faith in God life becomes an open door, not a closed circle; morning by morning new mercies we see.  We may not be able to explain everything; but life is not built on explanations: it’s built on promises, Abraham did not get an explanation of why God was leading out of Ur and to the Promised Land but we see in hindsight God’s plan.  There is a tie between “wisdom,” “knowledge,” and the “fear of the Lord”. True knowledge is more than mere information but centers in the seeking of God’s will and ways and includes obedience, as Hosea wrote (Hosea 4:1 6:3,14:9).

Ecclesiastes 2:1-2 In chapter 1 Solomon’s quest for wisdom was external: he examined everything from how wisdom works to madness and folly (Ecclesiastes 1:17). Now he turns to the internal.  He is going to now explore pleasures to answer the question, will I find more satisfaction in pleasure than in wisdom? Does joy and pleasure bring the answer to the question posed in Ecclesiastes 1:3?  In vs. Ecclesiastes 1:3-11 we have a list of activities that were the elements of his search.  He begins by saying at the very start that the answer is no. His verdict in total is answered with the question “what does it accomplish?” to which his assumed answer is “nothing”!

But we need to keep in mind that though his conclusion was that seeking pleasure was empty, you can be sure that he enjoyed himself on his way to this conclusion. After all, part of pleasure’s lure is that it offers to us a degree in some cases a good degree of pleasure. God gave us our senses of tasting, touching and such.  In fact if you are senses oriented as many today are you come to the conclusion as many do that this is what we were created for. Solomon set about to test that view of life by abandoning himself to pleasure.

Ecclesiastes 1:3 The wise man’s very language suggested how difficult the human quest for meaning is. The good (Ecclesiastes 1:1) in life—what is really worth going after—was not at all apparent. Therefore, the Preacher had to “search” diligently (see Ecclesiastes 1:13 for the force of the verb “searched”). His quest was to discern if the true philosophy of life is “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (Isaiah 22:13)? Like an eager boy at a county fair, he roamed from booth to booth tasting all that was available.

Ecclesiastes 1:4-8 – Solomon pursued the joy of building houses, the planting of vineyards, fruit trees, and gardens (Ecclesiastes 1:4–6). In much the same way as the kings Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, whose achievements in building and planting became wonders of the world Solomon went at with gusto. Solomon oversaw the work as his servants built what he directed  He had only to give the word, and slaves did his bidding (cf. 1 Kings 9:17-22).

Solomon multiplied horses, cattle and sheep in the land (Ecclesiastes 1:7b). He increased his wealth by his strategic use of the trading bridge between Egypt and Asia (1 Kings 10:21-29). He oversaw the gathering of the finest soloists and choirs (Ecclesiastes 1:8). The final item in collecting was wives and concubines.  All of these things were specifically commanded by the Lord not to be done Deuteronomy 17:14ff.  But in his pursuit of wisdom and pleasure he went his own way and not only did he pay the consequences but so did Israel.

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