More Vanity and Vexation of Spirit

Eccl. 2:24-26.

24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?

26 For God giveth to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

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It is true that it is good for a person to enjoy the good in his labor. I love my work, although I’m now looking forward to retirement. I loved teaching. I enjoyed all the volunteer things I’ve done in the church over the years. I loved rearing our children to walk with God, to walk with the wise. I love seeing their children also following that path.

I don’t know exactly what Solomon meant when he said it is good for one to eat and drink. If he meant feasting and alcohol, then no, that is not good. But we do need to nourish our bodies to do whatever work God has provided us. And isn’t it a wonderful gift that God created the food we need to be delicious!

In verse 25, Solomon acknowledges that no one has more opportunity to eat and drink at leisure than he does. And then he acknowledges that God gives a good man wisdom, and knowledge, and joy. A sinner, however, can work hard to gather and amass great treasure, only to end up yielding it to someone else who is godly.

That last sentence, however is not always true. Many times, a sinner leaves his goods to other sinners; sometimes, a righteous man leaves his to other righteous people. We can’t always predict what our inheritors will do with what we have gained, and therein lies vanity and vexation of spirit.

Emptiness. Every time you see the word vanity in this book, replace it with the word emptiness. Solomon was so empty in his heart that he just assumed it was the natural lot of mankind. How sad.

No Personal Profit

Eccl. 2:22-23.

22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?

23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.

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If King Solomon were alive today and happened to visit a medical doctor or a counselor, I’m pretty sure he would have been prescribed an antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication 🙂 And I do believe he was suffering from what we call clinical depression, but I don’t think medication would have fixed his problem. He was just so far away from the Lord that he had lost all desire in life to move forward.

What he says here, paraphrased by me, is “What does a man gain for all his work and trouble that he has done? Nothing but sorrow, and grief for all his work. A man can’t even rest at night because of the emptiness of his life.”

Apparently Solomon had trouble sleeping because he was so troubled in heart and mind. And of course, as you know, being restless and sleepless too many nights in a row plays havoc with your thinking, your health, your energy level. So he spiraled ever downward, and it gets worse before it gets better.

But take heart. He does eventually get it figured out. I believe, if we read this book with our spiritual eyes open, we can gain much from Solomon’s experience. One thing I’ve already taken to heart is that all of us are susceptible to the temptation of discouragement. Solomon, the wisest of all men, was not satisfied with his wisdom. Isn’t that a paradox? And we, too, can become dissatisfied with life if it isn’t giving us everything we had hoped for.

Just be careful about complaining. No one wants to listen to your sad story over and over and over.

Unworthy Inheritors

Eccl. 2:20-21.

20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.

21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

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Have you ever wondered how the people reacted to Solomon’s rather dismal message on how empty and worthless he found all his great works to be? Were there any standing there listening to him who had labored to build what Solomon was now renouncing as worthless? Were his sons nearby, hearing how their father considered them to be unworthy inheritors of all his riches? Were there hidden enemies who fingered their daggers and plotted how to remove Solomon so they could get their hands on all of it–riches, power, women, armies?

He says he labored in wisdom, and knowledge, and equity; yet it would be left to a man who had not lifted a finger to achieve any of it. Such was not only vanity, but a great evil.

I’m thinking Solomon didn’t think much of his sons. And he was right. Things spiraled out of control quickly after Solomon died.

You can read the history in I Kings 1 – 11 to get a clear picture of Solomon’s reign.

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Day of Rejoicing!

Every once in a while I get an earworm; a song that I love that plays over and over, and I can’t make it stop. So I decided to share it with you this morning, and maybe sharing it will move it over and make room for something else.

It’s a wonderful old gospel song that I can’t remember when I didn’t know it:) It takes me back to when I first began to sing harmony; when I first paid attention to the pianist who made that piano talk; when I first really began to understand and enjoy a church congregation singing together, voices lifted in praise and joy because we all believed there IS coming a day when we will all see Jesus!

So now, maybe you’ll have an earworm for a while and give mine a rest 🙂

Our Story: 50 Years, #7

Seventh installment of Our Story: 50 years. If you want to see the rest, go to Lindaswritingblog; scroll down under “Categories” to Our Story: 50 Years. To start from the beginning, scroll all the way down to # 1.

Just Writing!

With our engagement official, there were decisions to make. Foremost, I had to decided what to do about finishing college. One year to go. The problem for me was that I was still paying down my bill from the previous year. A good summer job had helped, but I really didn’t want to start my senior year still paying on my junior year.

You have to remember, this was over 50 years ago. A semester for me, at the private Christian college I attended, ran to maybe $600. Seems like a pittance compared to what young people pay these days. I worked my way through, as many others did, and lived on a shoestring. There was no undesignated money. Every penny was spent before I even put my check in the bank.

I had 27 class hours to graduate, and I wondered if I could do it all in the…

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You Can’t Take it With You

Eccl. 2:18-19. 18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. 19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.

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One of the reasons for Solomon’s malaise was that all his work, all his riches, all his fame, would belong to the man who followed him on the throne; and who knew if that person would be wise or foolish? So, he concluded, all of it is vanity. Emptiness. Of no value.

I did a little searching to find the origin of the saying, “You can’t take it with you.” The first thing I found was this:  “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6-7). 

The article went on to discuss the saying that is common in English today. Two American authors, George Kaufman and Moss Hart, opened their play You Can’t Take It With You in New York (1936). The play won a Pulitzer Prize the following year and its title became part of everyday speech. Thanks to Max Cryer. ( )

Then I thought about all the riches the ancient Egyptians buried with their kings and queens, believing they were providing for a comfortable after-life. They even built great tombs like the Pyramids to house the dead ruler with all his servants, armies, and belongings. Clearly, that didn’t work out very well since tomb-raiding is also an ancient art, and modern archaeology has unearthed all those riches that never went anywhere.

The idea that everything he had done would simply pass into the hands of another man, who may turn out to be a fool, was unbearable to Solomon. And so he hated it all, hated his life, and fell ever deeper into his pool of misery.

I Hated Life!

Eccl. 2: 16-17.

16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.

17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

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I read somewhere that most people are forgotten after about 60 years. Normal, ordinary people, once their children and grandchildren pass off the scene, are easily forgotten. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it makes sense to me. But does that mean that life is worthless, useless, of no importance?

Apparently not, or God wouldn’t have allowed His only Son to give up His life in behalf of all of us. The truth is, the life that counts the most is the one we have in eternity.

While we are here on earth, though, we influence all the people around us. We certainly influence our children, their children, and perhaps that fourth and fifth generation of children. And the influence we have extends into those lives, and is passed down for generations. So make sure your influence is godly, Bible-centered, and worth bestowing in your children’s children.

I think one of Solomon’s saddest statements is that he hated his life; that all the works he had accomplished were grievous to him; that life is merely vexation and vanity. Was he depressed? My professional judgment says, “Oh, yes, no doubt about it!” The question, then, would be, “But why? He had everything any man could wish for, and more! He was the wisest man in the world! He should have been happy!”

His problem was that he had everything any man could wish for, plus great wisdom. And it brought him only temporary pleasure, because he was out of sorts with God.

No One Escapes Death

Eccl. 2:14-15

14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

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Another way to say that first sentence in v. 14 would be, “A wise man keeps his eyes open, to discern good and evil; right from wrong; God’s way or man’s way.”

To walk in true wisdom is to “have eyes in your head,” For in reality, if our steps are not guided by truth, we are going to take lots of missteps, and end up in places we didn’t intend to go.

And then Solomon makes a discovery that has him realizing the folly even in his great wisdom. There is one event that happens to us all, fools or wise. No one escapes death. And with that being true, he says, what is the point in all of his wisdom? It will go to the grave with him, and it doesn’t seem to have made his life any more worth the living.

Why? Why didn’t all his wisdom make his life a daily delight? The answer is obvious if we look at his life, and of course hindsight is always more clear than foresight. He turned away from God, Who gave him his wisdom. He looked to everything else in this world to give him happiness, and he forgot about God.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Mom

I accidentally posted this on my writing blog, so I’m reblogging it in my Bible Study blog, which is the home of my Sunday Morning Coffee posts.

Just Writing!

She was 69 here, three years younger than I am now.

May 8 is Terry’s birthday. May 12 was Mother’s Day this year. May 16 was my mom’s birthday. She was born in 1925, and was part of that Great Generation. She was widowed at 68, and for a while I don’t think she really wanted to go on living. But, while she never got over missing my dad, she did get through her period of unbearable grief and went on to live almost 20 more years.

When I think of Mom, so many things come to mind. Right now, I’m thinking of her losses.

Her mother died of typhus when mom was just 22. I have no memory of my maternal grandmother. I was just one year old. But I certainly remember the way my mom loved her mother so much, and talked about what a kind and loving…

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Wisdom and Folly

Eccl. 2: 12-13.

12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.

13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

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The meaning of these two verses: “I have fully examined everything known by science; I have experienced all the maddening pleasures of unbridled lusts; and I have fully enjoyed all mirth of folly. I have experienced these things to the utmost, more than any man before me; and no man after me will be able to exceed me in means and power of self-gratification.”

“Then I discovered that that there is no supreme good or lasting happiness in all the pursuits of science, no genuine satisfaction in unbridled lusts, no true joy to folly; and that wisdom excels folly as much as light excels darkness.”

Poor Solomon. He spent a great deal of time, energy, money, and emotional investment to try to find the answer to a happy life, and all the things he tried left him still seeking. He even realized that no one who comes after him will ever exceed his own search for self-gratification. That’s an amazing statement, isn’t it? Especially in our day and time, when self-gratification seems to be the only aim of so many. The “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” mentality has taken over the minds of way too many people. Limitless time and incredible amounts of money are spent to satisfy the physical and emotional cravings of mankind. Alcohol. Drugs. Sexual pleasure. Movies. Video games. The list is endless, and even includes the pursuit of the most strange and exotic foods, because our appetites are sated with too much of everyday fare.

So far, what he has learned is that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.

The picture I used today caught my attention because of the strong contrast between what seems like utter darkness; but the darkness is conquered by a sliver of moonlight cast onto the snow.

Darkness of the soul and spirit can be changed by the light of the Word of God, and the whole landscape changes.